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Historical Grammar of Latin


Admission requirements

Linguistics students: basic knowledge of Latin grammar (A-level or equivalent)
Classics students: Griekse Taalkunde (BA 2) or equivalent knowledge of the basic principles of Historical Linguistics
Others: both the above requirements.


This course gives an overview of the linguistic developments (sound changes and morphological changes) taking place between Proto-Indo-European and Latin. Important features of the phonology and morphological structure of Old and Classical Latin itself are also covered. We will also read inscriptions in archaic Latin and an excerpt from a comedy by Plautus, and explain the linguistic differences between these varieties and the Classical language. We will use a syllabus (detailed ppt presentations), and sets of exercises will be used to test the students’ knowledge and skills.

Course objectives

The student:

  • understands the basic facts of the phonetics and phonology of Classical Latin, and is able to apply this knowledge to formal variation within Latin (processes like vowel reduction);

  • remembers and understands the historical sound changes and morphological developments taking place between PIE and Latin, and understands the reasons to assign relative dates to these changes;

  • can identify these linguistic developments by analyzing Latin words, and conversely, can apply them to PIE reconstructions to obtain the result in Latin;

  • is able to analyze differences between Archaic/Classical Latin and the other Italic languages by applying the comparative method of reconstruction;

  • understands the sociolinguistic situation of Latin (Classical vs. Vulgar Latin, urban vs. rural dialects, etc.) and knows the most important historical developments from Old Latin to Proto-Romance.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Mid-term and Final exam. Both are written examinations consisting of short open questions


Mid-term 25 %, Final exam 75 %.


The resit examination holds for both parts at once. This resit will cover the entire material of the course, and the mark will replace both previously earned marks.

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

We will use a syllabus (ppt slides) and exercise sets (both to be distributed via Brightspace). Literature for further reading will also be communicated or made available through Brightspace.
Optional: M. Weiss (2020), Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin, Beech Stave Press (can be ordered online at the publishers’ website).


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.



This course is also offered as a BA elective.