Faculty of Arts

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2013 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

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FacultyFaculty of Arts
Organisational UnitLinguistics
OfferedNot offered in 2013
Coordinator(s)Prof Kate Burridge


Previously coded LIN3080


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.


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

Chief examiner(s)

Contact hours

2 hours (lectures/seminars) per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


A first year sequence in Linguistics