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Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure II: Typology



In this course, we study languages—or language stages—exhibiting typological differences and similarities from a cross-linguistic perspective, and discuss some major current approaches to language universals and typology. Guest lecturers will present the state-of-the-art of various typological research domains.

Course objectives

  • Learn about major current approaches to language universals and typology from various perspectives (functional, generative, cognitive, semantic,…).

  • Learn about typological parameters relating to word order

  • Learn how arguments are morphosyntactically represented; different alignment systems (nom-acc, abs-erg and variations thereof), head-dependent asymmetries in phrase structure and in morphological markings, various interpretations of the notion of subject.

  • Learn how causatives and relative clause constructions are structured crosslinguistically, and how they are accounted for.

  • Learn about the role non-linguistic properties such as ‘animacy’ play in linguistic expressions.

  • Learn about diachronic dimensions in typology as in research on contact-induced typological change and the use of typology in language reconstruction

  • Learn about phonological typology

  • Practice typological research, analysis and argumentation in assignments and a final paper


The timetable will be available by June 1st at the website of Research Master in Linguistics

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  1. Several written assignments during the course. The average mark of the assignments is 50% of the final mark. Assignments will only be marked when they are handed in during the week they are assigned.
  2. A final paper (minimally 7 pages) (50%) due before the summer break.


Yes. Blackboard

Reading list

Textbook: Comrie, Bernard. 1989 [2nd edition] or later reprints. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

More recent developments in typology will be discussed using additional course readings that will be announced when the class starts. These will also include the reading materials assigned by the guest lecturers.

All readings will be available either through Blackboard or as hard copies in the ReMA student’s room.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Application for Contractonderwijs

After application, students can register for courses and exams through uSis

Contact information

Dr. M.A.F. Klamer