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A Linguistic History of the Western Steppe: Indo-European, its sisters, and its neighbors


A Linguistic History of the Western Steppe: Indo-European, its sisters, and its neighbors

The era of Big Data offers historical linguistics new roles, new possibilities, and urgent priorities. This course uses these new developments to draw up a linguistic prehistory and early history of the western Eurasian steppe and its periphery, in particular situating Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Uralic, indigenous Caucasian languages, and their ancestor(s) in space, time, and areal-typological context. Topics will include the phonological, morphological, and morphosyntactic typologies of the Eurasian families, protolanguages, and isolates; current knowledge and sources on reconstructed protolanguages; mechanisms and routes of language spread; the typologically defined areas of western Eurasia; substratal effects and their likely sources; evaluation of proposed deep genetic connections; how and when and where the linguistic Europeanization of Italic-Celtic/Romance, Germanic, Slavic, and Finnic proceeded. Students will get an understanding of this large historical picture as well as models and guidance in raising hypotheses, developing a research proposal on a topic of interest, and relevant conventions of 21st-century scientific writing.

Course Status: Closed

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Four-week Session


3:10 pm-5:00 pm
3:10 pm-5:00 pm



All levels welcome. Some knowledge of general linguistics or the history of a language or language family helpful, but not necessary. Most of the course material will be new to everyone from beginner to advanced, and assignments will be geared to individual students' knowledge and interests.