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Historical English Phonology


Admission requirements

Students should have passed Linguistics 6: Phonology in the B.A. English Language and Culture (or equivalent course). If in doubt, consult the course tutor before registering.


This course will be concerned with the interpretation of historical change in current phonological theories, with particular emphasis on theories of the representation of phonological units. We will examine the suitability of the generative paradigm for the description of sound changes such as Breaking, i-umlaut, and the Great Vowel Shift, and will consider the status of processes such as Open Syllable Lengthening and Homorganic Lengthening.

Course objectives

To extend the students’ knowledge of phonological theory acquired in earlier courses to historical data;
To introduce them to the question of the relationship between theory and historical data, in particular the extent to which a particular theoretical paradigm determines the reconstruction of what ‘actually happened’ in particular sound changes in the history of English.


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

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Time spent on attending seminars: 26 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing for the presentation: 132 hours

  • time to write a paper (including reading/research): 122 hours

Assessment Method

  • Written assignment 70%

  • Classroom contribution 30%

Resit: students who fail the course may resit the written assignment.


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

Articles to be made available.


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration via Studeren à la carte
Registration via Contractonderwijs


MA Linguistics departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;