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Universals and rarissima


Admission requirements

BA German or BA Linguistics, plus a good command of German.


Where we come from determines what we regard as normal. This holds for many areas, but also for language. Speakers growing up with German or a related Germanic language expect languages to have certain properties. These might include articles, for example, or a perfect formed with “have”. For linguistics, it is important to question such – often implicit – prejudices. How common are articles in the languages of the world? What other strategies are there for forming the perfect? What properties are found in many languages but are absent in German? Is German, typologically speaking, an ‘exotic’ language? These and related questions are addressed in this course.

Course objectives

After completing the course, students possess:

  • a sound knowledge of and insights in the grammar of German from a typological perspective

  • elementary knowledge of phonological, the morphological and syntactic characteristics of non-Germanic languages

  • the ability to report – in an adequately scientific manner – in oral and written form on observations about language and on selected linguistic literature. This is proven in an oral presentation and in a short written essay.


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

10EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 13 x 2 = 26 hours

  • Class preparation and study of compulsory literature: 13 x 4 = 52 hours

  • Preparation presentation: 26 hours

  • Written version of presentation: 36 hours

  • Essay: 140 hours

Assessment method


  • Active participation in class

  • Oral presentation

  • Written version of the presentation (1000 words)

  • Essay (4500 words)


  • Active participation in class: 10%

  • Oral presentation: 20%

  • Written version of the presentation: 20%

  • Essay: 50%

The essay and the oral exam have to be sufficient, i.e. 5,5 or higher. The final grade for the course has to be sufficient, i.e. 5,5 or higher.


A resit is offered for the written version of the presentation and for the essay.

Exam review

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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • providing study material (including powerpoints from classes)

  • communication

Reading list

  • reading matter will be provided during class


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students other than MA Linguistics need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.