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Core: History of Linguistics


Admission requirements

This course is only open for students of the Research Master Linguistics


This course gives an overview of some of the most important figures and ideas in the history of linguistics, starting with Panini and Sibawaydh and concentrating on the development of linguistic thought in the 19th and 20th Centuries. We look at the history of linguistics not from a purely historical point of view, but in order to be able to understand how scholars have understood human languages, and what methodologies have been developed to study it.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to
(i) see the paradigms in which they usually work in a broader historical light;
(ii) have led to different schools of thought; they should have a larger understanding of the origin of our current ideas;
(iii) be able to understand how different visions on human language have led to different schools of thought;, and to see how different current views on language are connected and contrasted.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total time: 280 hours (10 ECTS)
Of which:

  • Course hours (28h)

  • Preparation of courses; reading compulsoray literature (72h)

  • Preparing oral presentation: 40 hours\

  • Preparing final essay: 100 hours

Assessment method

Written exam (80%)
Presentation (20%)


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:

Blackboard will be used for contact with the students and dissemination of information on e.g. additional reading.

Reading list

The papers to be read (some English translations of original texts; others recent scholarly work on the history of linguistics as well as on links between modern work and historical work) will be distributed on the course’s Blackboard website.


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

Contact information

Marc van Oostendorp