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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. Each module will address distinguishing characteristics and intricacies of the native languages of the region, 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 other things, the course addresses topics such as tone, nominal classification, serial verb constructions, switch reference, voice, precategoriality, nominalization, language dispersal, and evidentiality.

Course objectives

After this course, students can
1. provide a first description of the linguistic diversity of Africa, Island Southeast Asia and New Guinea, and the Americas and their historical and genetic background;
2. indicate particularly salient linguistic properties for each area;
3. describe the typological diversity in these regions;
4. carry out an areal linguistic study by, e.g., a basic reconstruction or typological comparison using primary data, or by reviewing one or more articles reporting on such work;
5. report on specific linguistic features in languages of one of the regions or all the regions in oral and/or written form.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar (twice per week)

Assessment method

Students are required to:

  • complete three assignments, one for each region and each with a focus on a different transferrable skill (each 15% of the final mark)

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

ResMA students are required to write and format the final paper in the shape of a (publishable) article to make the course count, and this final paper counts for 70% of the final mark, with each assignment counting for 10%.


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.

Reading list

Readings for the three parts will be announced on Brightspace will be used for:


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies