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    Macalester College
  Dec 12, 2017
College Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

LING 201 - Historical Linguistics

Languages are constantly changing. The English written by Chaucer 600 years ago is now very difficult to understand without annotation, not to mention anything written a few centuries before that. This course investigates the nature of language change, how to determine a language’s history, its relationship to other languages and the search for common ancestors or “proto-languages.” We will discuss changes at various linguistic levels: sound change, lexical change, syntactic change and changes in word meaning over time. Although much of the work done in this field involves Indo-European languages, we will also look at change in many other language families. This is a practical course, most of class time will be spent DOING historical linguistics, rather than talking about it. We will be looking at data sets from many different languages and trying to make sense of them. In the cases where we have examples of many related languages, we will try to reconstruct what the parent language must have looked like. Prerequisite(s): LING 100  or LING 104  (4 Credits)