G-LSUD3 ThLing 396E Language Typology: Synchronic and Diachronic Views

Course type



This course will briefly present the vast diversity that the approximately 7000 living languages of today present in terms of their phonology, morphology and syntax. At the same time, it will offer an introduction to Typology, the field of linguistics that classifies languages according to their common features while seeking an explanation as to why certain structures are more common than others or why certain structures are cross-linguistically unattested. For that purpose, different theoretical approaches (e.g. formalist vs. functional) will be addressed taking into consideration both synchronic and diachronic views. In addition, issues of methodology and language-sample-construction will be discussed, terms such as language families and language universals will be clarified, while topics in morphological typology (the relationship between morphemes-words-sentences, types of affixation), syntactic typology (sentential word-order, ergative-absolutive systems) and phonological typology (preferred sounds, syllable structure, stress and tone) will be explored. Questions that will be answered during the course include, among many others: (a) why is Greek genetically closer to Iranian/Farsi than Hungarian? (b) why is English (phonologically) exotic? (c) why are there languages where in a sentence like “Mary slapped John and left”, it is actually John who left and not Mary?


Teaching hours: 3 | Credits: 3 | ECTS: 6

The course is not currently offerred.