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Language typology


Admission requirements

Propedeuse BA Linguistics or equivalent


Linguistic structures are generally not randomly distributed around the globe: some seem to be universally preferred, others are common in certain parts of the world, or in particular language families. The goal of modern typology is to detect distributional patterns, and to explain them in terms of factors that influence the historical development of languages.

During this course, we will study a number of structural similarities and differences between languages, with a focus on recurring (morpho)syntactic patterns in the languages of the world. Which features coincide? Why are some patterns much more common than others? Why are some patterns particularly common in e.g. Africa or South America? We will explore the basics of typological research, including how to create a representative sample of languages, how to compare different languages, and we look at the applications of linguistic typology. In addition, we will discuss how typological knowledge informs linguistic fieldwork on an undescribed language.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students will have:

  • An understanding of the ways in which languages are similar (linguistic universals) and different (linguistic diversity)

  • Knowledge of fundamental notions and methods regarding language typology (e.g. sampling, implicational hierarchies, and universals)

  • Basic skills needed to apply typological principles on primary data (gathered in fieldwork for example)


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Combination of lecture and tutorial

Assessment method

Assessment & weighing

  • Written examination with short open questions

  • Poster presentation

  • Assignments (not graded, requirement for taking the exam)


  • Written examination with short open questions (70%)

  • Poster presentation (30%)


For the written examination, a resit will be offered.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on this website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

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For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats
E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies


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