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Chinese Linguistics


Admission requirements



This course will bring students up to date with respect to most relevant aspects of Chinese linguistics. Taking a broad view, we will investigate recent developments in the such fields as historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, grammar, dialectology, etc. In doing so, we will at the same time, work towards (re)introducing most of the important basic notions in linguistics.

Course objectives

The course aims at providing the students with a broad understanding of current issues in Chinese linguistics. Besides, the course aims at developing further their research skills, as well as their skills in reporting on their findings, both in writing and orally, for general as well as scholarly audiences.


First semester, two hours per week. See the timetable

Mode of instruction

The first half of the course, we will do a lot reading; in class we will discuss topics related to the readings. In the second half, there will be lectures on specific topics of our choice, as well presentations by the students.
Assessment method

  • four written assignments (40%)

  • oral presentation (20%)

  • term paper (40%)


will be used as the need arises. See blackboard

Reading list

Steven Pinker, The language instinct. How the mind creates language. [orig. publ. 1994; any subsequent printing is okay]

Jerry Norman, Chinese. Cambridge University Press. [orig. publ. 1988; any subsequent printing is okay]

Ping Chen, Modern Chinese. History and Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press. [orig. publ. 1999; any subsequent printing is okay]


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

R. Sybesma