Historical Linguistics


a) To understand the specificity of diachronic approaches of linguistic phenomena.
b) To be acquainted with arguments that support the complementarity and interrelation of synchronic and diachronic linguistic approaches.
c) To master methods designed for diachronic data collection, selection and analysis.
d) To describe distinct types of linguistic changes and to critically review (some) theoretical proposals that claim to accurately frame their approach.
e) To identify the various manifestations of linguistic change – ‘innovation’, ‘persistence’, ‘obsolescence’ - affecting Portuguese forms and constructions and to propose explicative hypotheses.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Available soon


Weekly - 3 letivas + 1 tutorial

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Fertig, David (2013) Analogy and Morphological Change. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
Fischer, O. (2008) On analogy as the motivation for grammaticalization, Studies in Language.32/ 2, pp. 336-382
Hale, M. (2007) Historical Linguistics. Theory and method. Malden USA / Oxford UK: Blackwell
Hickey, R. (ed.) 2003. Motives for Language Change. Cambridge: CUP
Hopper, Paul J. & Traugott, E. C. (2003) Grammaticalization. 2nd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Joseph, B. D.; Janda, R. D. (eds.) (2003) The Handbook of historical linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Lehmann, C. (2005). Theory and method in grammaticalization. Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 32/2, pp. 152-187
Maiden, M., Smith, J. C. & Ledgeway, A. (eds) (2011) The Cambridge History of The Romance Languages. Vol. I Structures. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Narrog, H.& Heine, B. (eds.) (2011) The Oxford handbook of grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Teaching method

This is a course seminar. The seminar sessions include a theoretical component and its application to case studies. Students must participate on a regular basis in the seminar sessions (presentation and discussion of course topics, papers, data analysis, etc.).
In class teaching.

Evaluation method

Participation in the seminar sessions (20%); 1 paper, prepared under close supervision, and oral presentation (80%). The paper can be improved after its presentation.

Subject matter

i. Methodological issues
How is language change ‘observable’? – concluded changes vs. changes in progress; the uniformitarian principle.
Evidence for historical linguistics – attested vs. non attested data; written records (typologies and transmission issues).
ii. Linguistic change - types, processes, mechanisms
Morphological change and analogy; some generalizing proposals (general vs. language specific conditioning factors); morphological change and inflexion systems organization - diachrony and synchrony.
Evolution of the definition of grammaticalization in historical linguistics; relating grammaticalization to other diachronic processes (e. g. extension, reanalysis, analogy); unidirectionality; persistence; some case studies (grammaticalization of Portuguese forms and constructions).
The question of ´explanation´ in historical linguistics.


Programs where the course is taught: