Historical Linguistics

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Bachelor's level, 5LN231

A revised version of the syllabus is available.
Education cycle
First cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
General Linguistics G1F
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 6 March 2019
Responsible department
Department of Linguistics and Philology

General provisions

The course is an independent course. It is furthermore included as optional module in Linguistics B, C or D. The course syllabus was approved by the linguistic section board on the 15 Feb 2007.

Entry requirements

Phonetics and Phonology, 7.5 credits or Phonetics I, 7.5 credits or 30 credits in a language subject.

Learning outcomes

The course intends to give an introduction to language change from a historical perspective and knowledge of the more important theories of language change. On completion of the course, to earn the grade Pass the student should at least be able to: describe the differences between synchronic and diachronic linguistics at a general level describe historical linguistics as a field within linguistics and its historical development account for the main types of language change: (in) sound change, (ii) grammatical change, (iii) changes in syntax, (iv) semantic changes discuss the concept of grammaticalisation describe language-internal versus language-external language changes, what is a loan word? what can be borrowed? why does language borrow? account for the different linguistic methods of classifying languages: Genetic classification, typological classification, areal classification reflect on the following concepts critically: the comparative method, internal reconstruction account for different models of language change at a general level: the family tree model, the wave model, the dialect model, the generative model discuss the relation between area linguistics and historical linguistics


The course treats theories in historical-comparative linguistic research and its methods such as the comparative method and internal reconstruction and the applicability of the methods and their reach. Sound changes and the concept of sound laws Form and semantic changes. Etymology.


The instruction consists of lectures, exercises and assessment. The student's own learning activities are crucial for the completion of the course.


Examination is conducted through a written examination.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

The course may not be included in a degree if the equivalent parts have been studied within another course included in the degree.