Language Universals and Typology

Linguistics 416
Prof. Suzanne Kemmer

Course Information
Spring 2012

Class meetings: TTh 1:00-2:15, Herring Hall 125
Instructor contact: Office, Herring Hall 209; Tel., (348)-6225, email, kemmer ((AT))
Instructor office hours: TTh 10:50-11:50 and by appointment
Course schedule: See the topics under the Syllabus tool on Owlspace. These are laid out explicitly for the first half or so of the course; then we will begin choosing among topics according to interest.
Owlspace login page

The purpose of this course is twofold. The first goal is to convey an awareness of the range of variation found in the languages of the world, and the limits on that variation. Secondly, the course is designed to introduce some of the principles, goals, findings, and theoretical concerns of the approach to universals and typology research conducted in the Sapir/Greenberg tradition, also known as Functional Typology.

The focus will be on morphosyntactic, rather than phonological phenomena. A practical aspect of the first goal above will be to develop the ability to read and extract useful information from reference grammars of languages.


A selection of assigned readings and additional readings from typologcial textbooks, articles, and web materials will be made available in the Resources on Owlspace. Assigned readings are required for all enrolled students; additional readings, identified by instructor, are required for graduate students and for undergraduates, they can be used as sources for assignments and/or for additional background or greater depth on a particular topic.

Course Requirements

Possible topics have been posted in a document under Resources on Owlspace. Students can consult with me about their topics and new ones not on list can be proposed. Range of appropriate languages to look at can be tailored to the topic, under consultation with me.


If you have a documented disability that will impact your work in this class, please contact me to discuss your needs. Additionally, you should register with the Disability Support Services Office in the Ley Student Center.

Updated Feb 24; March 15; April 18, 2012
© 2012 Suzanne Kemmer