nl en

Core: Samples of Linguistic Structure I: Analysis


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 will also be invited to participate. An average structural survey comprises two sessions of 4 hours each.

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 course provides a basis for the study of whole languages, which may serve as a preparation for linguistic fieldwork aiming at the documentation of undescribed languages. This effect is obtained by the relatively short duration of the presentations and the compact character of each survey.

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 (Ib students have a good overview of various approaches to linguistic diversity and the way in which variation and uniformity in languages can be identified and studied)
(iii) can develop an alternative analysis of a given phenomenon in a particular language on the basis of cross-linguistic comparison



Mode of instruction


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 4 of the 5 languages.
The first assignment is to evaluate a grammar (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 (objective iii)


This course is supported by Blackboard. Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course. Please see:

Reading list

Will be announced on the Blackboard website


Prospective students, please check the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.

Aanmelden voor Contractonderwijs

Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.

Contact information

Prof.dr. M.P.G. Mous
Dr. E.I. Crevels

Programme Linguistics Research