This course is designed to introduce students to several concepts vital to the understanding of “historical” (or diachronic) linguistics. Students will learn about common sound changes and other forces which can affect later forms of language, such as analogy, paradigm levelling, and borrowing.

We will also take a look at how language families are determined – and how subgrouping is determined within language families, as well as language isolates, i.e., languages that have no other known relatives - and consider how much we can learn from linguistic reconstruction, as well as what its shortcomings are. We will consider reconstruction across members within the same language family, as well as cases of internal reconstruction.