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Linguistic History of the Middle East


Admission requirements



This course introduces students to the linguistic diversity of the Middle East across space and time, from the earliest attested languages, such as Sumerian and Ancient Egyptian, to modern Turkish and Persian. Throughout this survey, we will focus on how these languages relate to each other, evolve, and go extinct. Students will also be introduced to genetic linguistics and methods of language classification. In addition to this, we will examine relevant socio-linguistic topics, such as the development of language ideologies, the development of communal dialects, socio-, and religiolects, and the connection between language, identity, and ethnicity. Upon completing this course, the student will have a holistic understanding of the linguistic history of the Middle East and will be conversant in historical linguistics.

Course objectives

Students gain an understanding of the linguistic diversity of the Middle East across space and time. They will be able to describe this diversity in historical linguistic terms, and discuss the relevant sociolinguistic issues.



Mode of instruction

Attendance is not obligatory for lectures. The conveners do not need to be informed in case of missed classes. Information and knowledge provided in the lectures greatly contribute to the subsequent courses of the programme. In order to pass the course, students are strongly advised to attend all sessions.

Course load

  • Lecture: 2 contact hours per week = 13×2: 26 hours

  • Reading and BB discussion: 62 hours

  • 12 home assignments, 12 x ca. 1 hours: 12 hours

  • Preparation of each exam: 2×20 hours: 40 hours

Assessment method


Two written examinations:

  • one multiple choice examination at the end of the first block

  • one written examination with essay questions at the end of the second block

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average: midterm (40%), final exam (60%).


There is only one resit opportunity (in January 2018) which will make up 100% of the mark.

Exam review

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will be organized.

Reading list



Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs

Contact information

Dhr Dr. A.M. Al-Jallad


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accomodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).