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Advanced Typology


Admission requirements

BA in linguistics or a language. Knowledge of basic linguistic terminology is required. Basic knowledge of the programming language R is desired (but I will offer a basic training for those who are not familiar with it).


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.
The course focuses on the more practical issues of setting up and carrying out a typological research project: What is a good research question, how do I determine a good sample, how can I compare between languages, how do I look up the information I want? We will also discuss ways of analyzing data and interpreting results.
We focus on four areas of grammar: phoneme inventories, inflectional morphology, alignment patterns, and word order.

Course objectives

At the end of this course you will be able to

  • formulate a typological research question

  • design a variable system that allows you to capture cross-linguistic variation with respect to a linguistic phenomenon

  • understand different ways to compare sometimes very different languages

  • search through a grammatical description of a language unknown to you

  • learn about methods that can be used to explore data and test hypotheses

  • understand explanations for given distributions of linguistic features


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10EC x 28 hours=280 hours

  • Lectures: 22

  • Practical work: 4

  • Preparation tutorials: 1

  • Tutoring:

  • Study of compulsory literature: 120

  • Assignment(s):

  • Tutorials: 3

  • Preparation exam: 10

  • Exam(s): 120

Assessment method

  • Take home examination (with essay questions)

  • Abstract, oral presentation.


Oral presentations and take-home exam with essay questions


Oral presentations: 30%, take-home exam: 70%


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.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • providing literature

  • collecting data

Reading list

  • Van Gijn, Rik, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich & Steven Moran (in prep) Typology in Practice.

  • Further literature will be announced later. Literature will be made available on Blackboard.


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

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.

The coordinator of studies is Else van Dijk