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Linguistics: Language Change: English and Beyond


Admission requirements

Students should have passed introductory (BA) courses in (English) syntax and phonetics/phonology in the B.A. English Language and Culture (or equivalent).


In this course we will focus on three questions concerning linguistic change: (1) What type of changes occur? (2) What are the causes of linguistic change? (3) How can our knowledge of linguistic change be used to reconstruct earlier stages of a language, in particular those stages for which no written records are available? Using the course book and a number of articles as background, we will try to determine and evaluate some of the answers that have been given to these questions. In doing so, we will consider various examples of linguistic change — most of them from English, but also from a variety of other languages.

Course objectives

Students will not only increase their knowledge of (English) historical linguistics, but they will also learn how to do historical linguistics.


The timetable will be available by June 1st at

Mode of instruction

One two-hour seminar per week

Assessment method

Written exam (50%), 2 classroom presentations (20%), 1 essay (30%)


This course is not supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Campbell, Lyle (2004). Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Selection of articles (to be announced)


Students should register through uSis.

Contact information

Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Coordinator of Studies Master: Ms. K. van der Zeeuw-Filemon, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.


This course will NOT be offered in the evening