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Diversity Linguistics: Africa, Asia and the Americas


Admission requirements

Knowledge of basic linguistic terminology is assumed, and some background in historical linguistics and linguistic typology is advantageous.


This course presents an overview of the linguistic diversity found in three major regions of the world: Africa, Asia, and the Americas. We focus specifically on Africa, Island Southeast Asia and New Guinea, and South America. The course is divided into three modules, one for each region. It will address distinguishing characteristics and intricacies of the native languages of the three regions, looking at the spread and the diversity of these languages, as well as the results of language contact situations. We will hone in on specific themes of descriptive, historical, and typological interest. Among others we will address such issues as tone, nominal classification, serial verb constructions, switch reference, voice, precategoriality, nominalization, pluractionality, and evidentiality.

Course objectives

The relationship between these objectives and achievement levels for the programme should be evident.

  • to acquire knowledge of the linguistic diversity of Africa, Island Southeast Asia and New Guinea, and the Americas and its historical and genetic background

  • to become familiar with the languages and linguistics of these regions

  • to understand the typological variety found in these regions

  • to understand how linguistic research is done either by, e.g., carrying out a basic reconstruction or typological task using primary data, or by reviewing one or more articles reporting on such work

  • to gain practice in reporting on certain linguistic features in languages of one of the regions or all the regions in oral and/or written form


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (twice weekly)

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • time spent on attending seminars: 52 hours (26 seminars x 2 hours)

  • time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing for class: 104 hours (26 seminars x 4 hours; guideline 7 pages per hour, depending on the type of literature)

  • time to prepare assignments: 24 hours (3 x 8 hours)

  • time to write the final paper: 100 hours

Assessment method

Students are required to:

  • make three assignments, one for each region (50%)

  • write a final paper, focused on one of the regions (50%)


The promedian of three course assignments (one per region): 50%
A final paper, to be handed in after the end of the course: 50%


The final grade consists of the weighted average of the above components.


Students who fail the course may resit the final paper.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • on overview of current affairs

  • specific information about components of the course

Reading list

The booktitles and /or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk