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Advanced Topics in Indo-European Phonology


Admission requirements

The student should have a solid basis in Indo-European reconstruction, for instance by having completed the track Comparative Indo-European Linguistics of the Leiden BA Linguistics, or an equivalent programme elsewhere.


During this course, we study key issues in the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European phonology. We evaluate different approaches at establishing the phoneme inventory: the complexity of the vowel system (the problem of the vowel *a, the lengthened grade), the articulation of the stops (two or three velar series, the Glottalic Theory), and rules concerning Proto-Indo-European phonotactics (consonant clusters, neutralization processes, root constraints). At the background of this, we explore the most important principles of the comparative method: the difference between phonetics and phonology, problems of reconstructing allophony (vocalization processes, ruki’s rule), and strategies to distinguish between inherited and parallel developments (Sievers’s & Lindeman’s law). The aim of the course is to face the most important challenges concerning the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European and to strengthen our methodological tools to tackle them.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, the student

  • is able to apply the methods of historical linguistics to tackle more complex problems in the reconstruction of IE phonology

  • is able to summarize arguments in favor of or against certain phonological reconstructions

  • has developed insight in the difference between phonetics and phonology


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 14×2 = 28

  • Preparation tutorials: 14×7 = 98

  • Study of compulsory literature: 50 hours

  • Exam (writing paper): 104 hours

Assessment method

Assessment: Paper 100%
Resit: If the quality of the paper is insufficient, there will be an opportunity to hand in an improved version.

Exam Review

Students are entitled to view their marked examination within a period of 30 days, following publication of the results of a written examination.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • making available study materials such as handouts and ppt presentations

  • communicating homework, schedule changes, etc.

Reading list

The articles and books to be studied will be communicated at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English.

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof