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De talen van Latijns-Amerika


Admission requirements

Completed introduction to linguistics


In this course, students are introduced to the incredibly rich and diverse linguistic landscape of Latin America, as shaped by the relatively short but turbulent history of human presence in this region. The hundreds of languages spoken in Latin America tell a story of several layers. The deepest time layers are formed by the Indigenous languages, which have developed enormously diverse linguistic structures, including many unfamiliar from a European perspective. Some of these structures are found across many languages and language families, and suggest intensive interactions between groups of speakers. A much more recent layer is formed by Indo-European languages, in particular Spanish and Portuguese, but also e.g. English, French, Dutch, German. These languages sound familiar to European ears, but also have developed considerable internal variety. The arrival of the Europeans has had great impact on the previously existing linguistic landscape, most significantly through mass extinction of the Indignous population as a result of epidemics and massacres, but certainly also by cultural and political marginalization of Indigenous groups. In addition, contact between Indigenous groups and the European colonizers gave rise to new languages, resulting from contact due to a variety of settings and circumstances. In this course, we will look at these layers of languages, their linguistic characteristics, thus building up a linguistic understanding of the history of Latin America from pre-Columbian times up to the present.

Course objectives

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • apply basic concepts used in linguistics to language structures found in Latin American languages;

  • provide a basic description of Latin America’s language diversity, including the genealogical and typological classifications, as well as classifications in terms of endangerment status;

  • recognise and describe a number of specific features of languages of the region, subregions, or language families;

  • describe in broad terms how history has shaped the linguistic landscape of Latin America.


The timetables are available through My Timetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


Group presentation and individual essay


Group presentation: 30%
Individual essay: 70%


In case of an insufficient final grade, students can do a substitute assignment.

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 MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


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

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats


not applicable