LING2070 Historical Linguistics: Languages, Genes and Human Migrations

Dr. Marcelo Sevilla

Advanced. Sem 2, 6 credits

Course Description

The history of the world’s languages is deeply linked to our history as a species of diverse and inter-connected human communities. This course provides a survey of the latest developments in historical linguistics, with a focus on computational approaches to the relationships between languages, genes and cultures. Students will cover traditional principles of historical linguistics, before getting acquainted with more recent phylogenetic algorithms and other modelling attempts. Debates around the origins of modern languages (e.g. the question of monogenesis versus polygenesis) will be introduced. The diversification of modern languages will be placed within the context of the migrations of early and later Homo sapiens, as revealed by patterns of genetic, phenotypic, and cultural diversity today. The constraints and drivers underlying language change will also be emphasized. Throughout the course, the dispersals of speakers of the Bantu family of languages in Africa will serve as a case study.


100% coursework

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