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Comparative Syntax


Admission requirements

BA Linguistics; BA Dutch language and culture (specialization Linguistics),
BA English language and culture or equivalent and/or Advanced Syntax 1


This course in an advanced introduction to comparative syntax in the generative syntactic framework, combined with hands-on syntactic research.
All humans can learn any language as a native tongue. For this reason, the most central hypothesis in current syntactic research is that all languages share abstract syntactic principles. The first goal of comparative syntactic investigations is to discover whether syntactic principles are shared in this sense and what kind of principles are shared this way. The second goal is to understand how these principles allow for variation among languages and how syntactic variables are connected. This leads to a general theory of syntax for natural languages.
The specific empirical domain we will study is agreement, a syntactic phenomenon that shows considerable uniformity as well as variation across languages. Some languages lack agreement entirely, while others exhibit a great deal of agreement in the expression of grammatical relationships. In view of the current literature on the topic, we formulate topical research questions that students will investigate in the language of their choice.

Course objectives

When you have completed this course you are able to:

  • Research and analyse syntactic phenomena from the perspective of language variation

  • Carry out your own comparative syntactic research, including a presentation and writing of an essay

  • Report and discuss orally and in writing on the most important questions, findings and theories in comparative syntactic research

  • Use the most relevant methods and data collection for comparative research


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Literature study

Assessment method

  • paper and oral presentation of own research

  • presentation on an article

  • active participation


A resit is only possible for the paper.


  • paper and oral presentation of own research (80%)

  • presentation on an article (10%)

  • active participation (10%)


A resit is only possible for the paper.

Inspection and feedback

The students will receive feedback on their paper during the final presentation and can get more personal feedback upon request.

Reading list

Articles to be announced on Brightspace. Brightspace will be used for:

  • Course program and further information exchange

  • Assignments

  • Bibliography


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

Registration Contract teaching

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


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

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats