ELL329 : History of Linguistics

Convenor(s): Prof Andrew Linn


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

When we study Linguistics or the English language or any other language-based subject today, we do so in a fairly standardized way. There are textbooks containing generally agreed bodies of knowledge. There are particular methods we learn to employ and particular types of question we learn to ask about language. However, language has not always been thought about as it is today, and no doubt in the future people will focus on different aspects of language and have different priorities. This module is about understanding our place in history and getting a feel for what people have thought about and done with language at different points in history, and why. I hope that you will finish the module not only knowing a bit more about European intellectual history but also with more respect for the past, where some pretty amazing ideas and insights developed.


You will be required to attend two classes each week. Some of these will be traditional lectures and some interactive workshops where your preparation and input is essential.


The first assignment will be to write an essay of not more than 2500 words on the development of language study up to the end of the 19th century, focusing on a specific area of Linguistics. A list of topics will be provided in week 6, but you are welcome to choose a different aspect of language study which is of special interest to you and/or of relevance to other modules you are taking. The second part of the assessment will be a 2-hour examination at the end of the semester, focusing on the emergence of modern Linguistics from the 18th century onwards. There will be classes dedicated to preparation for both assessments.

Contact Details

ext 20216


Information last changed: Thursday 17th of March 2016 :: 09:31:00 AM (GMT)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK