Units of Study

LNGS2616 - Historical Linguistics

Semester 2, 2013  |  Credit Points: 6

Coordinator: Jason Clift Johnston


This unit looks at the mechanisms of change within a particular language as well as across groups of related languages. This raises the question of how languages can be related: whether through sharing a common ancestor; by being in contact for a long time or by being consciously planned. In each instance we must either rely on knowledge we can gain from languages still in use or on records of extinct languages or earlier stages of existing languages. Because the records are often sparse it becomes necessary to reconstruct earlier stages and the unit provides the tools for undertaking a reconstruction. Once we reconstruct a common ancestor language we are then able to make inferences about the culture of the people who spoke it as well as where they lived and how they moved about. Each level of linguistic structure is relevant to the study of language change so that the unit considers how sounds systems change over time as well as changes in meanings and grammatical systems.


Problem sets and 2x in-class exams totalling 6000 words


Campbell, Lyle. 2004. 'Historical Linguistics, an introduction', second ed. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.


1x2-hr lecture/week


LNGS2621 or LNGS2601


  10am 11am 12pm 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm






  10am 11am 12pm 1pm 2pm 3pm 4pm 5pm





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