Historical Linguistics 2022-23
School Of Arts, Culture And Language
Module - Semester 1
This module explores the field of historical linguistics and philology from both a theoretical and a practical viewpoint. Students will learn about theories of language change and will learn to critically evaluate studies of historical language change. They will also acquire practical skills in identifying the origins of words and grammar in languages that they know.
Lectures will introduce students to the big picture and will provide them with concrete and theoretical examples of the topics being discussed, while seminars will be an opportunity to go deeper into the topics in a student-led pedagogical manner.
While the lecturer will provide examples of language change (etc.) from his own experiences, students will be highly encouraged to explore languages of their own choice that they find interesting so as to find their own examples of the kinds of changes being learnt about.
The following types of topics will be covered in lectures and seminars:
- Introduction to historical linguistics
- Exploring Proto-Indo European
- Reconstructive analysis and the comparative method
- Sound change
- Semantic change
- Morphological change
- Issues in Germanic historical linguistics
- Issues in Celtic historical linguistics
- Issues in Romance historical linguistics
-threshold -D: The answer must address the question. The answer must show a basic knowledge and understanding of the relevant key areas and principles of Historical Linguistics. The student must show evidence of being able to apply the principles to the analysis of language and linguistic examples and/or data. The answer must show evidence of some background study. -good -B: The answer must be focussed and structured. The answer must show a better-than-average standard of knowledge and understanding of the relevant areas of Historical Linguistics. The linguistic examples used in the answer may be based upon examples from the literature but must also include original examples. The answer must show evidence of background study with at least some from primary sources. -excellent -A: The answer must be highly focused and well-structured. The answer must show comprehensive knowledge and detailed understanding of Historical Linguistics. The answer must show some original interpretation, new links between topics and/or a new approach to a problem. The answer must show evidence of extensive background study using primary sources.
- Students will be able to analyse language data to reconstruct hypothetical earlier linguistic forms.
- Students will know how to compare languages and identify the similarities and differences between them, and how those factors illustrate the historical relationship between languages.
- Students will know the central questions and aims of historical linguistics by critically evaluating studies in the field.
- Students will understand how the etymology of words and grammar can be identified and analysed.
- Students will understand the principles of reconstructive analysis in reconstructing languages and how this can inform us on the various mechanisms that occur in language change.
- Students will understand the principles underlying language change and how these can be used to describe the history of languages like English.
Analysis of etymology and linguistic reconstruction (take-home exam)
Essay on a topic in historical linguistics