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The languages of South and Southeast Asia: history, context and structure


Admission requirements

Not applicable.

Course description

The languages of South and Southeast Asia is an introduction to the historical, cultural, and structural dimensions of the languages of South and Southeast Asia. We provide both knowledge about these languages in their historical, cultural, and linguistic context and insight into the main ways these languages are studied.

The course consists of four blocks. After an introduction to the language map and language families of South and Southeast Asia, we survey the current language situation in the countries of the region. In particular we look at the relationship between languages and ethnic identity and the role of national languages in the formation of nation states. Subsequently we discuss the cultural functions of language on a more local level, to conclude with various linguistic approaches to the region’s languages.

Course objectives

  • Knowledge of the language map and the genetic relations between languages in South and Southeast Asia, especially India and Indonesia;

  • Knowledge of and insight into the social and political roles of languages in the contemporary states of South and Southeast Asia, in historical perspective;

  • Knowledge of and insight into the socio-cultural dimensions of languages in South and Southeast Asia;

  • Acquaintance with the scientific study of language and an introduction to the disciplinary focus Linguistics (Taalkunde)

Time table

See website

Mode of instruction

Lecture course (Hoorcollege)

Assesment method

  • Two assignments per block (blocks I and II taken together): one assignment focused on knowledge of concepts/theory, and one of their application. The mark for each block counts for 20% of the overall mark.

  • Written final examination (40% of the overall mark).


Blackboard is used for:

  • table of contents of the course

  • course materials

  • making available of assignments

  • submission of assignments by students

  • announcements

Blackboard serves as the primary means of communication about the course between instructors and students outside class meetings. Registration for the course on Blackboard is essential.

Reading list

A reading list, to be announced later. The readings must be studied prior to the class in question.


Registration via uSis obligatory.
Registration for A la Carte
Registration for Contractonderwijs


The course coordinator, Prof.dr. B. Arps