Method and theory of historical and comparative linguistics. Problems of phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic change and reconstruction. Prerequisite: either LING 200, LING 201, ANTH/LING 203, or LING 400.
This course introduces the basic concepts of historical linguistics and historical reconstruction, including the comparative method. The main focus is on the types of changes (phonological, morphological, syntactic, and semantic) which commonly occur, and on the practical application of methods of reconstruction. A broad range of languages will be examined. The course also touches on genetic classification, language families, and writing systems.
Student learning goals
Gain introductory knowledge of the field of historical linguistics
Gain an understanding of the concepts and methodology underlying the field
Practice the analytic methods employed in linguistic analysis and reconstruction
General method of instruction
Class lectures, readings, and exercises. Our main textbook will be Campbell, Lyle. 2004. Historical Linguistics: An Introduction. (2nd edition). MIT Press.
See listed prerequisites. It is assumed that students have a good understanding of articulatory phonetics, IPA, and a basic command of concepts in phonology, morphology, and syntax, all of which can be acquired in any introductory linguistics course or from an introductory linguistics textbook.
Class assignments and grading
Most assignments will be problem sets through which students will gain an understanding of and familiarity with the techniques of historical reconstruction.
Midterm exam: 20% Final exam: 30% Homework: 35% Preparation and class participation: 15% (subject to change)