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Die Welt auf Papier: Schrift und Schriftsysteme


Admission requirements

BA German Language and Linguistics or equivalent skills.


The world on paper: Writing and writing systems.
In linguistics, writing is often seen as secondary: an artificial system that imperfectly represents the natural, spoken language. In this course we will question this view and explore the exciting world of writing. What are the major differences between speech and writing? How does writing influence our views on language? What kinds of writing systems do we find? How are writing systems developed for unwritten languages, and how can this help preserve endangered languages? What principles govern the rules of orthography? And what would happen if spelling wasn’t regulated and would be left free?

Course objectives

The students

  • deepen their understanding of linguistic issues and methods by getting acquainted with the field of grammatology

  • have a general knowledge of writing systems

  • acquire a new, critical perspective on linguistic units such as the phoneme, the word or the sentence

  • are able to reflect critically on the regulation of spelling and can defend their position on orthography in a debate

  • are able to communicate their acquired knowledge and insights in German, orally as well as in written form.


The timetable is available on the “MA Linguistics website”:

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours.

  • Attending class: 26 hours

  • Preparation and reading: 5 hours/seminar = 65 hours

  • Preparation of oral presentation: 20 hours

  • Brief written version of oral presentation: 40 hours

  • Assessment (essay): 130 hours

Assessment method


  • Active participation in class

  • Oral presentation

  • Brief written version of oral presentation (1000 words)

  • Essay (MA: 7000 words)


  • Active participation in class: 20%

  • Oral presentation: 15%

  • Brief written version of oral presentation (1000 words): 15%

  • Essay (MA: 7000 words): 50%
    The essay needs to be sufficient.


Resit for the essay only.


Blackboard will be used:

  • to provide study material (including powerpoint presentations from class)

  • for communication and news

  • for handing in essays (Turnitin)

Reading list

To be specified later.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the “coordinator of studies”:

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs Not applicable


Student administration Van Eyckhof