Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Language Sciences

Undergraduate Course: History of Linguistics (LASC10096)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe history of enquiry into language as practised within the discipline of linguistics, with due attention to relevant epistemological and methodological issues.
Course description Linguistics as an institutionalised discipline can look back on a history of around two hundred years. In this relatively short time span the discipline has played host to a variety of conceptions of human language and different approaches to its study. This course surveys key ideas that have shaped linguistics as a discipline and the debates surrounding them. The aim is to understand the background of linguistics as currently practised, along with how it has come to be situated where it is with respect to related sciences. The course is structured around the question of how linguists have responded to the diversity of the world¿s languages.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: LEL2A: Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LASC08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 18, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 169 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Class examination (50%): A take-home exam with a set of topics from which students will choose one to answer (2000 words maximum).

Final examination (50%): Two-hour exam will cover the entire course, though emphasising the second half. It will include a short answer section and a longer essay section, with, for each section, students offered a selection of questions/topics from which to choose.
Feedback Following an informal class examination at the end of Week 5, a session will be devoted to issues arising from the results, highlighting particular strengths exhibited, along with misunderstandings or argumentative shortcomings, with an explanation of how to avoid them and attain the best possible results in the subsequent project and final examination.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understanding the background of modern linguistic research
  2. Deeper perspective on relevant epistemological issues
  3. Ability to situate theoretical approaches in their historical context
  4. Contrasting and reconciling a wide range of approaches to language
Reading List
Allan, Keith, ed. 2016. Routledge Handbook of Linguistics. London: Routledge.

Chomsky, Noam. 1959. Review of Verbal Behavior by B.F. Skinner, Language 35, 26-38.

Everett, Daniel L. 2005. 'Cultural constraints on grammar and cognition in Pirahã: another look at the design features of human language', Current Anthropology 46.4, 621-646.

Gabelentz, Georg von der. Forthcoming 2018 [1894]. 'Typology : a new task of linguistics', History and Philosophy of the Language Sciences, James McElvenny, trans.

Humboldt, Wilhelm von. 1988 [1836]. On Language: the diversity of human language-structure and its influence on the mental development of mankind, Peter Heath, trans. Camrbidge: Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, John E. & Frederick J. Newmeyer. 2012. 'All languages are equally complex': the rise and fall of a consensus', Historiographia Linguistica 39.2/3, 341-368.

Joseph, John E., Nigel Love & Talbot J. Taylor. 2001. Landmarks in Linguistic Thought II: the Western tradition in the twentieth century. London: Routledge.

Klautke, Egbert. 2013. The Mind of the Nation: Völkerpsychologie in Germany, 1851:1955. Oxford: Berghahn.

Koerner, E.F. Konrad. 1989. Practicing Linguistic Historiography. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Koerner, E.F. Konrad. 2008. 'Hermann Paul and general linguistic theory', Language Sciences 30, 102-132.

Matthews, Peter H. 1993. Grammatical theory in the United States from Bloomfield to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McElvenny, James. 2017. 'Linguistic aesthetics from the nineteenth to the twentieth century: the case of Otto Jespersen's 'Progress in Language', History of Humanities 2.2, 417-442.

McElvenny, James. Forthcoming 2018. 'August Schleicher and materialism in 19th-century linguistics', Historiographia Linguistica 45.1.

Morpurgo Davies, Anna. 1998. History of Linguistics: nineteenth-century linguistics. London: Longman.

Mueller-Vollmer, Kurt & Markus Messling. 2017. 'Wilhelm von Humboldt', in Edward N. Zalta, ed., Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition) [].

Nerlich, Brigitte & David D. Clarke. 1996. Language, Action, and Context: the early history of pragmatics in Europe and America, 1780:1930. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Ogden, Charles K. & Ivor Armstrong Richards. 1949 [1923]. The Meaning of Meaning: a study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of symbolism. London: Kegan Paul.

Radick, Gregory. 2016. 'The unmaking of a modern synthesis: Noam Chomsky, Charles Hockett, and the politics of behaviourism, 1955:1965', Isis 107.1, 49-73.

Sampson, Geoffrey, David Gil & Peter Trudgill, eds. 2009. Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1959 [1916]. Course in General Linguistics, Wade Baskin, trans. New York: Philosophical Library. []

Schleicher, August. 1969 [1863]. Darwinism tested by the science of language, Alex V.W. Bikkers, trans. London: Camden Hotton. []

Turner, James. 2014. Philology: the forgotten origins of the modern humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Whitney, William Dwight. 1873. Oriental and Linguistic Studies. New York: Scribner, Armstrong and Co. [].
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf John Joseph
Tel: (0131 6)50 3497
Course secretaryMr Liam Hedley
Tel: (0131 6)50 9870
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information