BA Film Studies and English Language

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:

Unit code LELA20032
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module provides an introduction to Typology, the field of linguistics aiming to describe and analyse the diversity of structures found in the languages of the world and to uncover similarities between languages that cannot be explained by a shared history. We will examine cross-linguistic variation and recurring patterns in selected areas of morphology, syntax and semantics, such as constituent order, encoding of grammatical relations possession, and spatial relations. We will also discuss methods of collecting data for typological research and their limitations, and critically review some of the explanations proposed for structures that are cross-linguistically frequent. Students will conduct a project on a language previously unfamiliar to them on the basis of published reference grammars and/or own fieldwork. This module is essential for students interested in pursuing cross-linguistic research or language documentation, and is also highly recommended for students with an interest in grammatical theory.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
English Word and Sentence Structure LELA10301 Pre-Requisite Compulsory


  • Students will obtain an overview of the degree of variation, and limits to variation, in selected grammatical characteristics of the languages of the world.
  • Students will acquire the ability to apply grammatical and comparative concepts to a language unfamiliar to them.
  • Students will critically evaluate typological generalisations and test their applicability to specific languages.

Teaching and learning methods

  • 1 hr weekly lecture on campus. Pre-recorded lectures will also be made available online as an alternative way of accessing lecture content.
  • 2 weekly 1hr seminars with analysis of data sets from unfamiliar languages, and discussion of readings.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course unit, students will
  • be able to define some key notions in linguistic typology, and apply them to new data
  • be able to identify the cross-linguistically most frequent strategies in the marking of selected grammatical constructions,
  • be able to evaluate explanations that have been proposed for the prevalence of certain construction types;
  • appreciate the methodological issues that arise in cross-linguistic research

Intellectual skills

  • Identifying patterns in sets of data
  • Identifying key points in the literature relevant to a given topic
  • Critically evaluating a model against new data
  • Evaluating the validity of a generalisation from a sample

Practical skills

  • Using different strategies for locating relevant information
  • Glossing and translating data from an unfamiliar language
  • Eliciting data from speakers of an unfamiliar language (optional)

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Tackling a complex and unfamiliar task by completing several steps, following guidelines, taking into account feedback, and asking for assistance in case of difficulties
  • Awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Confidence in discussion and argumentation
  • Offering precise argumentation in written work that is backed by empirical evidence

Employability skills

Students will benefit from this course on the job market from their ability to handle and analyse unfamiliar data sets. Awareness of cross-linguistic differences (as well as similarities across boundaries of language families and cultures) will be of use in the cross-cultural work place and in the interaction with second language speakers. The different components of the adopt-a-language project also allow students to gain confidence in speaking in front of a group of people, in structuring an argument and in presenting it in a clear and concise manner in written and spoken form.

Assessment methods

Multiple-choice quizzes on Blackboard on the assigned readings and data N/A (formative)
Weekly data problem sets discussed in seminars N/A (formative)
3 Quizzes on Blackboard on analysis of data sets 15%
Progress report on coursework (oral presentation of relevant language data, with written handout) 15%
Individual essay 70%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback on weekly seminar exercise sheets


Automatic feedback on reading quizzes


Automatic feedback on summative data quizzes, and further feedback during seminar discussions

Formative and summative

Oral and written feedback on progress report

Formative and summative

Written feedback on essay on Turnitin


Additional one-to-one feedback during office hours



Recommended reading

  • Croft, William (2003), Typology and Universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Greenberg, Joseph (1963), Some Universals of Grammar with Particular Reference to the Order of Meaningful Elements, in J. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Language, 58-90. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Song, Jae J. (2018), Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Velupillai, Viveka (2012), An Introduction to Linguistic Typology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Whaley, Lindsay J. (1997), Introduction to Typology: The Unity and Diversity of Language. London: Sage Publications


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Eva Schultze-Berndt Unit coordinator

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