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Linguistics 5: Introduction to English Historical Linguistics


Admission requirements

A pass mark for Linguistics 1, 2 and 4 or similar courses.


This course introduces students to the historical description and analysis of the English language. We will discuss fundamental principles and methods of historical linguistics and will apply them to changes that have taken place in the history of English. The types of changes we will examine include sound change, grammatical change and lexical change. We will also refer to language contact and other possible reasons for language change.

Course objectives

  • Students have insight in the principles and methods of historical linguistics.

  • Students have basic knowledge of the language changes that have occurred in the history of Engels.

  • Students can name the reasons for various language changes.

  • Students can apply the principles and methods of historical linguistics to changes that have taken place in the English language.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction

One hour lecture and one hour seminar per week.

Course Load

  • Time spent on attending lectures and seminars: 14 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 50 hours

  • Time to prepare for the exam and in-term quizzes: 76 hours

Assessment method

  • Final written examination (combining closed questions, fill-in questions en essay questions) (70%)

  • In-term written assignment (30%)

If the final grade is 5 or less students may only resit the insufficient course component(s).

Attendance is compulsory. Unauthorized absence will mean that you cannot take part in the relevant exam(s).


Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course.

Reading list

Herbert Schendl (2001). Historical Linguistics. (Oxford Introductions to Language Study.) Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Enrolment in uSis is obligatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

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

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


English Language and Culture departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;
Coordinator of studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.