nl en



Admission requirements

BA/MA in linguistics or in a language. Knowledge of basic linguistic terminology is required.


In this course, languages—or language stages—exhibiting typological differences and similarities will be studied from a cross-linguistic perspective. Some major current approaches to language universals and typology will be discussed. Three guest lecturers will present the state-of-the-art of particular typological domains, such as dialect typology or phonological typology.

Course objectives

  • Learn how arguments are morphosyntactically represented

  • Learn about different alignment systems (nom-acc, abs-erg and variations thereof)

  • Learn about head-dependent asymmetries in phrase structure and in morphological markings

  • Study various interpretations of the notion of ‘subject’.

  • Learn how ditransitive and causative constructions are structured crosslinguistically, and how they are accounted for.

  • Discuss case studies relating to: – typological generalisations about word order – diachronic dimensions in typology: the use of typology in language reconstruction, and contact-induced typological change – phonological typology – dialects and typological research

  • Practice typological research, analysis, argumentation and presentation in written assignments, an oral presentation, and a final essay.


The timetable is available at the website of MA Linguistics: Language Diversity of Africa, Asia & Native America.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

– four written assignments (each 10%) – one oral presentation (10%) – a final essay (50%) ### Blackboard

Yes. Blackboard

Reading list

Textbook: Comrie, Bernard. 1989 [2nd edition] or later reprints. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

More recent developments in typology will be discussed using additional readings (articles, book chapters).
The reading list will be made available through Blackboard a couple of weeks before the course starts.
All readings will be available either through Blackboard or as hard copies in the ResMA students’ room.


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

Application for Contractonderwijs

After application, students can register for courses and exams through uSis

Contact information

Dr. M.A.F. Klamer