nl en

Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure


Admission requirements

There are no additional admission requirements.


This course consists of a series of compact structural surveys of minimally five languages, constituting a representative selection from different language types in different parts of the world. For each language, the sound system and the grammatical structure (morphology and syntax) is discussed along with other salient characteristics. The language data presented during the course are subject to the type of analysis generally found in solid, user-friendly language descriptions. In every stage of the structural surveys, the unity of the language as a system of mutually related elements and processes will be emphasized. The acquired knowledge is then put into practice by reading and analysing a representative sample of text in the language in question.
The teaching staff in charge of each structural overview consists of specialists in the languages to be dealt with. They include members of the tenured academic staff, but guest researchers or visiting professors not connected to Leiden University may also be invited to participate. Each structural survey consists of four sessions of 2 hours each in two weeks; classes are twice a week.
The purpose of the course is to rapidly gain insight into the overall structure of languages previously unknown to the participants. It is essential for the ability to read and interpret grammars and linguistic descriptions, in which a great deal of coherent information must be processed, retained and evaluated. The central theme of this Research Master and the Leiden University Centre of Linguistics is linguistic diversity. The purpose of this course is to enable students to apply linguistic diversity to their preferred subdiscipline, area of interest and approach to linguistics.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the student
i. understands how linguistic observations are constructed in a grammar or other source for linguistic observations on languages of the world
ii. has developed an appreciation how different languages can be in a range of areas of language structure and how that relates to our knowledge about language in general
iii. can develop an alternative analysis of a given phenomenon in a particular language on the basis of cross-linguistic comparison.
iv. can make use of the world linguistic diversity in their own research


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar (twice weekly)

Assessment method

During the course the students hand in a number of written assignments for each language and for the general introduction. The assessment is based on the results of the assignments and students are required to obtain a passing grade for four out of the five languages.
The first assignment is to evaluate a grammar book (objective i). This assignment is compulsory but not graded.
For each of the languages there are two assignments: one aimed at developing familiarity with the structures of the given language (objective ii), and a second one writing a short critical essay on an aspect of the language (objectives iii and iv).

Exam review

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

Readings for the different subcourses will be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on this website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

not applicable


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats

E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

Coordinator of Studies


not applicable