• Offered by School of Culture History and Language
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject Asian Studies
  • Areas of interest Asian Languages, Cultural Studies, Pacific Studies, Asian Studies, Asia Pacific Studies More...
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Bethwyn Evans
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2020
    See Future Offerings

This course is an introduction to historical linguistics, and how the study of linguistic histories informs our more general understanding of the history of Asia and the Pacific - particularly when we go back beyond the reach of written records. Asia and the Pacific forms the most linguistically diverse area in the world, and past and present societies across the two regions are typically identified by the kind of languages they speak. The course explores the status and internal diversity of a number of different language groupings, including language families such as Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Tai-Kadai and Austronesian, linguistic areas such as India and Mainland Southeast Asia languages whose historical connections remain debated, such as Japanese and Korean. It considers what language histories can tell us about the non-linguistic histories of Asia-Pacific societies. The course aims to introduce students to the basic principles and methods of historical linguistics, including processes of language change and language contact, as well as the ways in which linguistic development reflects socio-cultural change. We will use language history as a starting point for broader discussions that incorporate research from anthropology, archaeology and population genetics, asking how the different disciplines tell similar or different stories about the Asia-Pacific past.

In this ‘L’ version of ASIA2308, students will engage with readings and complete written assessment in the language they are studying. This course can be counted toward an Asian language major. Enrolment is conditional on confirmation of staff available to mark assessment.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1. understand and evaluate current models and theories of using language to recover the past
2. analyse linguistic data using methods of historical linguistics
3. critically assess and evaluate research on a specific language history scenario
4. reflect on and articulate how language histories interact with research from related disciplines.

Indicative Assessment

1. Tutorial Participation- 10% of course grade; addresses all four learning outcomes
2. Three Assignments- 30% of the course mark (10% each assignment); addresses learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3
3. Research Essay- 30% of course mark; addresses 1, 3 and 4.
4. Final Exam- 30% of course mark; addresses all four learning outcomes

In response to COVID-19: Please note that Semester 2 Class Summary information (available under the classes tab) is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available to enrolled students via Wattle. 

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Contact hours for this course are two one-hour lectures per week and eight one-hour tutorials across the course of the semester. Students are expected to spend an additional six hours of independent study on prescribed class readings, tutorial preparation, and assessment preparation.

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course is incompatible with ASIA2308 Linguistic Histories in Asia and the Pacific and ASIA6308 Linguistic Histories in Asia and the Pacific.

You will need to contact the School of Culture History and Language to request a permission code to enrol in this course.

Preliminary Reading

Readings for this course, from a variety of sources, will be available on the course Wattle site, and include, but are not limited to:
- Ao, Benjamin. 1991. Comparative reconstruction of Proto-Chinese revisited. Language Sciences 13(3/4):335-379.
- Ballard, Chris. 2002. A history of Huli society and settlement in the Tari region. In Bryant J Allen (ed.) Health and Environment in the Tari Area. Special Issue Papua New Guinea Medical Journal 45(1-2):8-14.
- Burenhult, Niclas, Nicole Kruspe and Michael Dunn. 2011. Language history and culture groups among Austroasiatic-speaking foragers of the Malay Peninsula. In N. J. Enfield (ed.) Dynamics of human diversity. The case of mainland Southeast Asia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 257-275.
- Crowley, Terry and Claire Bowern. 2010. An introduction to historical linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Chapter 5: The Comparative Method: Procedures, 78-107.]- Enfield, N. J. 2005. Areal linguistics and mainland Southeast Asia. Annual Review of Anthropology 34:181-206.
- Pawley, Andrew. 2010. Origins and diversification of the Austronesian languages from Southeast Asia to Remote Oceania. In Christophe Sand and Stuart Bedford (eds) Lapita: Oceanic Ancestors. Paris: Somogy Editions d'Art, 77-89.
- Thurgood, Graham. 2010. Hainan Cham, Anong and Eastern Cham: three languages, three social contexts, three patterns of change. Journal of Language Contact 3:39-65.

Areas of Interest

  • Asian Languages
  • Cultural Studies
  • Pacific Studies
  • Asian Studies
  • Asia Pacific Studies
  • Language Studies
  • Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Linguistics


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $3120
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2020 $4800
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

First Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4387 24 Feb 2020 02 Mar 2020 08 May 2020 05 Jun 2020 In Person View

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions