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Historical Linguistics


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of phonology, phonetics and IPA. Students who have not followed the course Indo-European language and culture are advised to purchase and study the reader of that course.


An introduction to Historical linguistics. The structure and meaning of words and sentences change over time. How and why does language change? The course provides answers to these questions with the help of examples from various languages, but predominantly from English and closely related languages such as Dutch, German and Frisian. During the seminars, the same processes discussed during the lectures will be illustrated with excercises about the same phenomena in lesser known languages.

Participants are also required to attend classes on Academic skills

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of and insight in the methodology of historical linguistics;

  • The skills to apply these insights to new data;

  • Knowledge of the terminology of historical linguistics.


Linguistics (BA)

Mode of instruction

Lectures (1 hour weekly) and seminars (1 hour weekly).

Assessment method

Oral presentation (10%), written examination (half-term, 20%) and final written examination (70%). There is a resit covering the material of the written examinations (90%) if the weighted average of the exams is insufficient.

Reading list

To be purchased before the start of the course: Robert McColl Millar (2015): Trask’s Historical Linguistics. 3rd edition. London/New York: Routledge.

Joris J.W. Buis, Ger Post & Vincent R. Visser (2016): Academic Skills for Interdisciplinary Studies. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on this website

Registration Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats

E-mail address Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats: osz-oa-wijkplaats@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Coordinator of Studies


This course is open to students from the BA Linguistics only.

First year’s students BA Linguistics will be enrolled in the seminars of this course by the Education Administration Office.