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Description of a Non-western Language I: Trio language structure and cultural context


Admission requirements



Trio, a language of the Cariban family, is the largest indigenous language spoken in Suriname across a large area of dense rainforest. There are ca. 2700 speakers of Trio, including about 700 across the border in Brazil. In this hands-on seminar, students will analyze the basic linguistic structures of the language, phonology, morphology and morphosyntax as well as focus on the cultural context within which Trio is spoken. It is mandatory for students to learn basic Trio conversation. From week 3, students will receive short Trio texts to gloss and translate. Reference material for this class is the Trio grammar of E.B. Carlin. Other material shall be distributed as relevant.

Weeks 1 & 2: Getting to know the Trio. Greetings and politeness.
Week 3: Reading Trio: The alphabet, phoneme inventory, and phonological rules.
Weeks 4 & 5: Word classes; Nominal morphology
Weeks 6 & 7: Basic verb morphology & Clause types
Weeks 8 & 9: Postpositions
Weeks 10 & 11: Clause types and evidentiality
Rights reserved to make changes as deemed appropriate.

Course objectives

  • To remember and list relevant cultural facts about the Trio, including their location and demography.

  • To identify and describe basic Trio structures across word classes according to Basic Linguistic Theory.

  • To demonstrate your ability to gloss and analyze unseen Trio data.

  • To learn basic conversation skills in Trio.


BA Linguistics

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 140 hours

  • Lectures: 26

  • Study of compulsory literature: 30 hours

  • Assignment(s): 24

  • Preparation exam: 60 hours

Assessment method

Written exam with open questions: 70%

Active participation 15%
Assignments: 15%
In case of failing the course only the exam can be re-sit.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • announcements only

Reading list

Carlin, Eithne B. A Grammar of Trio, a Cariban language of Suriname. Should be downloaded before the start of the course from the teachers' website


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on this 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


For questions about the content of the course, please contact the teacher:
Dr. Eithne B. Carlin

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats

E-mailaddress Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk