Skip to content | Change text size

LIN2080 - Language Across Time

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Prof Kate Burridge


Not offered in 2007


All languages are constantly changing - just as other aspects of human society are also constantly changing. How and why do these changes begin? How and why do they take hold and spread? How can we explain them? This subject is an introduction to the study of language over time. It examines changes at all linguistics levels - vocabulary, meaning, sounds and grammar. Examples are drawn from the history of a wide range of languages - Germanic, Romance, Pacific and Asian. Part of the subject also gives students practice in reconstructing lost stages of languages, using the internal and comparative methods of reconstruction.


On successfully completing this subject students should be able to:

  1. Describe language as a dynamic system of communication.
  2. Analyse language data with respect to the evolution of sounds, vocabulary and grammar.
  3. Identify the types of change that occur.
  4. Discuss the factors responsible for these changes and how they interact.
  5. Explain the major processes of language change.
  6. Use the methods of comparative reconstruction to build past linguistic systems.
  7. Integrate language observation and analysis with corresponding literature in the field (3rd year students only).


Three written practical assignments (approximately 3,000 words): 70%
One examination (1.5 hours): 30%

Contact hours

2 hours (lectures/seminars) per week


A first year sequence in Linguistics