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Historical Grammar of Latin


Admission requirements

Linguistics students: basic knowledge of synchronic Latin grammar (A-level or equivalent)
Classics students: Griekse Taalkunde (BA 2) or equivalent knowledge of the basic principles of Historical Linguistics
Others: both the above requirements


This course gives an overview of the linguistic developments (sound changes and morphological changes) taking place between Proto-Indo-European and Latin. We will also read texts and inscriptions in archaic Latin as well as in other ancient Italic languages, and explain the linguistic differences between these varieties and the Classical language. Sets of exercises will be used to test the students’ knowledge and skills.

Course objectives

The student:

  • knows the basic facts about the phonetics and phonology of Classical Latin;

  • knows the historical sound changes and morphological developments leading from PIE to Latin, is able to give a linguistic description of these developments, and to date them;

  • is able to identify these developments in Latin words, and to apply them to PIE reconstructions

  • is able to compare word forms from archaic Latin and other Italic languages to corresponding Classical Latin forms, and to explain the differences between them;

  • has insight in the sociolinguistic situation of Latin (Classical vs. Vulgar Latin, urban vs. rural dialects, etc.)


The timetable is available on the MA Linguistics website

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Lectures: 2 x 13 weeks = 26 hours

  • Preparation tutorials: 4 x 13 = 52 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 40 hours

  • Preparation exams: 57 hours

  • Exams: 5 hours

  • Paper: 100 hours

Assessment method

A. 5 EC: Mid-term and Final exam. Both are written examinations consisting of short open questions

  • Weighing: Mid-term 25 %, Final exam 75 %.

  • Resit: The resit examination holds for both parts at once. This resit will cover the entire material of the course and the mark will replace both previously earned marks.
    B. 10 EC: In addition to the written exam(s), the student writes a paper on a subject related to the historical grammar of Latin (and/or the other Italic languages). The grades for written exam(s) and paper should both be sufficient.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • homework assignments, handouts and ppt presentations

  • communicating changes in the schedule

Reading list

We will use a syllabus (to be distributed via Blackboard) and exercise sets. Further texts and literature to be studied for the exam will also be communicated through Blackboard.
Optional: M. Weiss, Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin, Beech Stave 2009 (can be ordered for $75 online at the publishers’ website)


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.


  • The course can be taken for 5 EC by both BA and MA students.

  • The 10 EC course is examined both with a written exam and a paper. For ResMA students in Linguistics, the option exists to write a paper with an extra requirement.

  • Part of the written final exam for MA students will be identical to that of the BA students; another part will consist of additional questions about texts and literature to be studied individually in advance.