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Topics in Linguistics A:Introduction to quantitative methods in linguistics


Admission requirements

There are no special requirements.


This one-semester course will teach the basics of the R programming language and how to use it for some common, statistical analyses of linguistic data.
Each class is divided into two one-hour sessions. The first session will consist of an introduction to the basics of R, allowing you to eventually write your own scripts. I will be writing code in the R editor, save it, and, after each class, send it to you per email, along with some comments. I will also give you little exercises for the next class. No textbook will be needed for these sessions. The second session of each class will consists of introductions to some basic statistical techniques. Here we will use all the utilities of R to perform specific analyses. In the beginning you will sometimes not understand all of the R code used in these analyses, but you will at least be able modify the scripts for your purposes to run similar analyses. Towards the end of the course you will have a better understanding of the code used in the second sessions from what you have learned during the first sessions of each class.
By, in each class, having a ‘theoretical’ session and a session looking at statistical applications, I wish to ensure, through the applications, that we don’t lose sight of why one should bother about learning R; but, through the theoretical sessions, I also want you to develop skills that allow you to independently write your own scripts rather than having to rely on scripts that you copy from books or the Internet. For the applied sessions we will be reading some of the chapters from the following book:

Levshina, Natalia. 2015. How to do Linguistics with R: Data exploration and statistical analysis. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

You should each bring a laptop to class (but you can still follow the classes even if you don’t have one).

Course objectives

At the end of the course you will have learned to carry out the most common types of statistical analysis of linguistic data in R, and you will have acquired enough basic knowledge of R as a programming language that you can start writing your own scripts.


Linguistics Research

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC x 28 = 140 hours

  • Lectures: 16 × 2 hours

  • Practical work:

  • Preparation tutorials:

  • Tutoring:

  • Study of compulsory literature: 50

  • Assignment(s): 60

  • Tutorials:

  • Preparation exam: 7

  • Exam(s): 1

  • Other components:

Assessment method


One half-hour written examination with short open questions in the middle of the course.
One one-hour written examination with short open questions at the end of the course.


The mark is established by an average, weighted by the duration of the examinations.


Resit is possible only for the parts that were insufficient.


Blackboard will not be used in the course, instead emailing will be used.

Reading list

Selections from Levshina, Natalia. 2015. How to do Linguistics with R: Data exploration and statistical analysis. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

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*

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Prospective students, please check the Study Abroad/Exchange website for information on how to apply.


For questions about the content of the course, please contact the teacher:
Soren Wichmann

Administrations Office: van Wijkplaats:

*Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk