nl en

Language typology (10 EC)


Admission requirements

The examination and, if indicated, the teaching of the following units of study can only be taken if the examinations of the preceding units of study have been passed:
Morfologie / Morphology, Klanken van de wereld / Speech sounds of the World.


Linguistic structures are generally not randomly distributed around the globe: some seem to be universally preferred, others are common in certain parts of the world, or in particular language families. The goal of modern typology is to detect distributional patterns, and to explain them in terms of factors that influence the historical development of languages. Typological work crucially depends on language description, but at the same time, typology feeds back into language description.

During this course, we highlight this co-dependency between descriptive linguistics and language typology by studying patterns both in individual languages, and across languages. We will study a number of structural similarities and differences between languages, focusing on questions such as: “Which features coincide?” “Why are some patterns much more common than others?” “Are some patterns particularly common in e.g. Africa or South America?” “How can language X be compared to language Y?”

In doing so, you will become acquainted with the fundamentals of linguistic typology. In addition, we will discuss how typological knowledge informs linguistic fieldwork on an undescribed language.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, you will have:

  • an understanding of the ways in which languages are similar (linguistic universals) and different (linguistic diversity), and how you can describe this for individual languages with which you are unacquainted;

  • knowledge of fundamental concepts and methods regarding language typology and language description;

  • basic skills needed to apply typological principles on primary data (gathered in fieldwork for example);

  • basic skills in translating structures in individual languages into a typological framework.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • Poster presentation during one of the classes (with pass/non-pass grade)

  • Written exam


Written exam 100%


A resit will be offered for the written exam

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. 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

To be announced


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

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.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies


All other information.