HENA0392DU English - Free topic 13: Historical Linguistics (Exam form B)

Volume 2014/2015

All languages change constantly and historical linguistics is the discipline that records and analyses these changes in phonology, grammar and lexicon. The course offers an introduction to the methods and theories of historical linguistics, including genetic linguistics (“language families”) and language typology. The focus will be on English.

Linguistic fossils abound in English and Danish, giving us glimpses of previous stages of our language. In English, albeit is NOT a spelling error and wanton boys are definitely not wanted. Have you ever wondered why in Danish, when a story is told, it is snip – snap – snude? Or why Donald Duck’s nephews are called Rip, Rap and Rup, and always in that order?

We will look at possible explanations of some major changes in English, drawing on external factors such as migration, contact and war as well as some modern sociolinguistic studies.

Coursebooks: (All to be found in the department library)


Jean Aitchison: Language Change, Progress or Decay? 4th ed, Cambridge UP 2013

Barbara Fennell: A History of English. A Sociolinguistic Approach, Blackwell, 2006

Herbert Schendl: Historical Linguistics, Oxford University Press, 2001

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 176,75
  • Total
  • 204,75