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Historical Linguistics


Admission requirements



An introduction to historical linguistics, illustrated mainly by examples from Dutch and its nearest cognates German, English and Frisian. All aspects of languages undergo change: from sounds, word formation and lexical meaning to sentence structure. How does this change take place and what causes it? These questions are discussed using examples from well-known languages and the knowledge thus obtained is applied to daa from lesser known languages during the seminars.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, participants are expected to

  • be familiar with the basic terminology and processes of historical linguistics;

  • have an understanding of the methodology of historical and comparative linguistics;

  • be able to apply this methodology to previously unseen data.


Linguistics bachelor

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures and seminars.

Course Load

Total course load: 140 hours
Lectures: 13 hours
Seminars: 13 hours
Seminars: Academic Skills:12 hours
Assessments: 4 hours
Preparation lectures and assignments: 52 hours
Preparation assessment: 46 hours

Assessment method

Oral presentation during classes (passed) Written half-term examination (25%) and final examination (75%) with open questions. There is one resit (100%).


Blackboard will be used for providing literature to the students and communicating with them.

Reading list

To be bought in advance: Robert McColl Millar (2015): Trask’s Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. London/New York: Routledge.
J.J.W. Buis, G. Post & V.R. Visser (2015). Academische vaardigheden voor interdisciplinaire studies. Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press.
Other materials (slides and exercizes) will be distributed through Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


For questions about the content of the course, please contact the teacher:
Tijmen Pronk

Administrations Office: van Wijkplaats: osz-oa-wijkplaats@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk