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Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure


Admission requirements

There are no additional admission requirements.


In this course, students rapidly gain insight into the overall structure of languages previously unknown to them. The purpose of this course is to enable students to apply linguistic diversity to their preferred subdiscipline, area of interest and approach to linguistics. Being able to read and interpret grammars and linguistic descriptions is essential, as a great deal of coherent information must be processed, retained and evaluated.
The 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. In every stage of the overview, 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 data exercises and critically reflecting on an analysis of a particular phenomenon in each language.
Each part is taught by a specialist in the relevant language. Instructors include members of the academic staff, and 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.

Course objectives

At the end of the course the student can
i. explain how a linguistic analysis in a grammatical description of a language is constructed;
ii. relate the diverse structures of the languages presented in the course to general knowledge about language;
iii. develop an alternative analysis of a given phenomenon in a particular language on the basis of cross-linguistic comparison;
iv. 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 sessions. The assessment is based on the results of the assignments and students are required to obtain a passing grade for (at least) five languages.
For each of the languages there are two assignments: one aimed at developing familiarity with the structures of the given language (objective i and ii), and a second one writing a short critical essay on an aspect of the language (objective iii). A final assignment consists of writing a research proposal implementing the newly acquired knowledge (objective iv).

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

Readings for the different subcourses will be announced on Brightspace.


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


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

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


not applicable