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Language and culture of the Indo-Europeans


Admission requirements

First year’ students BA Linguistics will be enrolled in the tutorials of this course by the Education Administration Office. Other students should first contact the coordinator of studies, Else van Dijk. Self-enrollment is not possible for this course.


Almost all languages of Europe and a large number of languages in South-West and Central Asia are related to each other. Together they form the Indo-European language family and derive from a single ancestor language that we call Proto-Indo-European. With its approximately 3 billion speakers it is the largest language family in the world. Which languages belong to this language family? How do we know that these languages are related to each other? Which are the oldest known texts in Indo-European languages and what are these texts about? How can you reconstruct the proto-language and what did this proto-language look like? To what extent does our knowledge of the historical development of the Indo-European languages provide an insight into the lives of the prehistoric speakers of the proto-language? Can we reconstruct aspects of their culture and habitat? In this course we will try to answer these and other questions about Indo-European language and culture.

Course objectives

  • General knowledge of the results of comparative Indo-European linguistics.

  • General knowledge of the extralinguistic history of the most important older Indo-European languages.

  • Basic knowledge of a number of linguistic changes that shaped some of the daughter languages of Proto-Indo-European.

  • Familiarity with the basics of comparative linguistics and linguistic reconstruction.

  • General knowledge of the culture and prehistory of the speakers of ancient Indo-European languages and Proto-Indo-European.


Linguistics bachelor

Mode of instruction

Lectures (1 hour weekly) and seminars (1 hour weekly).

Course Load

26 hours of lectures and seminars
4 hours of exams
52 hours of preparation for lectures and seminars
58 hours of preparation for the exams

Assessment method

Written examination (mid-term, 25%) and final written examination (75%). There is a resit covering the entire material (100%) if the weighted average of the two exams is insufficient.


The slides that are used during the course will be made available on Blackboard

Reading list

The reader must be purchased through Readeronline before the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website

Students - not registered as students BA Linguistics – who would like to enroll in this course should first contact the coordinator of studies, Else van Dijk

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs


For questions about the content of the course, please contact the teacher: Dr. T.C. Pronk

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats

E-mailaddress Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk