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Monash University Handbook 2010 Undergraduate - Unit

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

FacultyFaculty of Arts
OfferedClayton Second semester 2010 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Prof Kate Burridge


All languages are constantly changing - just as other aspects of human society are also constantly changing. How and why do these changes begin? How and why do they take hold and spread? How can we explain them? This subject is an introduction to the study of language over time. It examines changes at all linguistics levels - vocabulary, meaning, sounds and grammar. Examples are drawn from the history of a wide range of languages - Germanic, Romance, Pacific and Asian. Part of the subject also gives students practice in reconstructing lost stages of languages, using the internal and comparative methods of reconstruction.


On successfully completing this subject students should be able to:

  1. Describe language as a dynamic system of communication.

  1. Analyse language data with respect to the evolution of sounds, vocabulary and grammar.

  1. Identify the types of change that occur.

  1. Discuss the factors responsible for these changes and how they interact.

  1. Explain the major processes of language change.

  1. Use the methods of comparative reconstruction to build past linguistic systems.

  1. Integrate language observation and analysis with corresponding literature in the field.


Three written practical assignments (approximately 3,000 words): 70%
One examination (1.5 hour): 30%

Chief examiner(s)

Prof Kate Burridge

Contact hours

2 hours (lectures/seminars) per week

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study



A first year sequence in Linguistics