歷史語言學
Historical Linguistics
  

This course explores traditional and contemporary approaches to historical linguistics, the study of language change. The course is divided into four parts:
    Part (i) is an introduction to the concept of ‘language change’ and the notion that some languages are ‘related’ to each other. (What does this mean? How is it possible? How can we tell?)
   Part (ii) discusses ‘sound change’ ‒ changes within individual languages in their pronunciation of words and the phonetic inventories (i.e., the sounds they use). Tracing sound changes in groups of related languages can allow us to reconstruct ‘ancestor’ languages that we have never heard or seen before.
   Part (iii) examines other types of language change, including borrowing across languages, analogical change (roughly: borrowing within a language), shifts in word-meaning, and changes in sentence structure.
   Part (iv) of the course will deal ‘language contact’ and its influence on linguistic complexity, with a particular focus the history of two languages: English and Mandarin Chinese.

There are three main goals of this course:

  • Introduce students to the phenomenon of language change, the relationships among languages of the world and language families.

  • Familiarize students with the historical study of language and the methods used in identifying relationships between languages and describing different types of language change.

  • Bolster students’ analytical skills, especially through applying familiar concepts to unfamiliar data.