Historical linguistics and typology
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09:30 to 10:30
From 03-06-24 to 07-06-24

A discussion concerning the relation between historical linguistics and typology can only be possible when based on three clear assumptions:

  1. Historical linguistics is different from diachronic linguistics and the two perspectives only partially overlap, i.e. whereas historical linguistics has to do with history in its broadest sense, diachrony simply implies development of linguistic structure both morphological and syntactic over time; sadly, this crucial difference, fundamental to analyse both linguistic change and reconstruction, is very frequently disregarded in the literature on historical linguistics.
  2. Typology is not a theory of language stricto sensu, but an empirical method to discover and recognise differences among languages at any level. It has also to be kept in mind that the first typological model was proposed about morphology, and only more than one century later typology was applied to syntax.
  3. A philological scrutiny of the material under investigation is an absolutely necessary condition in order to correctly and profitably evaluate the linguistic documents.

In the lectures several case studies will be illustrated taken from different languages, not only belonging to the Indo-European family, concerning phonology, morphology and syntax. The linguistic analyses of the instances provided are also meant to show how the three points mentioned above interact with one another.


Luraghi, Silvia. 2017. “Typology and Historical Linguistics”, in: Alexandra Aikhenvald and Robert M. W. Dixon (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press: 95-123.
Pat‐El, Na’ama. 2021. “Typological Approaches and Historical Linguistics”, in: Richard D. Janda, Brian D. Joseph, and Barbara S. Vance (eds.), The Handbook of Historical Linguistics. Volume II, Blackwell – Wiley: 183-195.