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Comparative Syntax


Admission requirements

BA Dutch language and culture (specialization Linguistics), BA Linguistics, or equivalent


All humans can learn any language as a native tongue. For this reason, the most central hypothesis in current syntactic research is that all languages share abstract syntactic principles. The first goal of comparative syntactic investigations is to discover whether syntactic principles are shared in this sense and what kind of principles are shared this way. The second goal is to understand how these principles allow for variation among languages and how syntactic variables are connected. This leads to a general theory of syntax for natural languages.

This course involves an advanced introduction into comparative syntax, combined with hands-on comparative syntactic research. We discuss a number of perpectives on and approaches to comparative syntax. We select a specific empirical domain (e.g., DP structure, VP-structure, dependencies, quantifiers, etc) as a central topic and read and discuss state-of-the-art literature on this topic. Towards the end of block 1 students formulate a topical research question that they are going to investigate in block 2. Block 2 will then be dedicated to the students’ own research, supported by discussion of specific literature relevant to their research questions.

Course objectives

When you have completed this course you are able to:

  • Report and discuss orally and in writing on the most important questions, findings and theories in comparative syntactic research.

  • Use the most relevant methods and data collections for comparative research.

  • Carry out your own comparative syntactic research, including a presentation and writing of an essay.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

  • Literature study

Assessment method

  • paper and oral presentation of own research (80%)

  • presentation on an article (10%)

  • active participation (10%)


A resit is only possible for the paper.

Inspection and feedback

The students will receive feedback on their paper during the final presentation and can get more personal feedback upon request.
If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized

Reading list

Will be announced on Brightspace. Brightspace will be used for:

  • Course program and further information exchange

  • Assignments

  • Bibliography


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats

Coordinator of Studies