This course takes as its starting point the fact that all languages change. It explores explanations and motivations for change across different linguistic domains, as well as the ways in which our understanding of language change enables us to reconstruct past linguistic states and make certain cultural inferences. The course introduces students, on a global scale, to cross-linguistic tendencies of language change, the linguistic and socio-cultural factors that underpin language change, and models of language classification. Both traditional and innovative theories and methodologies are shaped by the study of two large language families: Indo-European, encompassing languages from Ireland in western Europe to India and Bangladesh in South Asia; and Austronesian, which spans Asia and the Pacific, from Taiwan to Easter Island. Students will learn about the role of these two language families in past and on-going developments in the field of historical linguistics, and in our understanding of general principles of language change and linguistic reconstruction.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of how and why languages change;
- Apply methods of describing linguistic changes and reconstruct earlier stages of languages;
- Evaluate and apply models for determining genetic relationships between languages
- Undertake guided research in some area of language change.
- Tutorial Preparation & Participation (10) [LO 1,2,3]
- Online Quizzes (5) [LO 1,2,3]
- Two Assignments (20) [LO 1,2,3]
- Essay (35) [LO 4]
- Final Exam (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
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WorkloadContact hours for this course are two one-hour lectures and one one-hour tutorial per week. It is expected that students will spend an additional 7 hours per week of independent study working on assigned readings, tutorial preparation, and preparation for course assessment items. The total workload for the course is 130 hours including independent study.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsCrowley, Terry and Claire Bowern. 2010. An introduction to historical linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Preliminary ReadingMost of the readings for this course are from the course textbook (Crowley and Bowern 2010), but this text is supplemented by a number of other readings, which include:
- Dunn, Michael. 2014. Language phylogenies. In Claire Bowern and Bethwyn Evans (eds) The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics. London: Routledge, 190-211.
- Greenhill, Simon J. and Russell D. Gray. 2009. Austronesian language phylogenies: myths and misconceptions about Bayesian computational methods. In Alexander Adelaar and Andrew Pawley (eds) Austronesian historical linguistics and culture history: a festschrift for Robert Blust. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 375-397.
- Harrison, S. P. 2003. On the limits of the Comparative Method. In Brian D. Joseph and Richard D. Janda (eds) The handbook of historical linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 213-243.
- Kingston, John. 2011. Tonogenesis. In Marc van Oostendrop, Colin J. Ewen and Elizabeth V. Hume (eds) The Blackwell companion to phonology. Vol IV: Phonological interfaces. Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2304-2333.
- Michael, Lev. 2014. Social dimensions of language change. In Claire Bowern and Bethwyn Evans (eds) The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics. London: Routledge, 484-502
.- Weiss, Michael. 2014. The Comparative Method. In Claire Bowern and Bethwyn Evans (eds) The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics. London: Routledge, 127-145.
Assumed KnowledgeBasic knowledge of linguistics
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