Historical sociolinguistics

Prof. dr. Rik Vosters


In this new course, which will be taught for the first time this academic year, we will explore the main topics, methods and theories within the field of historical sociolinguistics. After an introduction on what historical sociolinguistics is, why a historical sociolinguistic approach is useful, and how historical sociolinguistics studies language variation and change at the macro level, we will deal with a range of themes, such as dialect contact, standardization, social networks, communities and individuals, genres, speech and writing, language history from below, attitudes and ideologies, multilingualism and language contact, and language planning. The course will use examples and cases from different languages and linguistic communities, with a special emphasis on recent and ongoing research into the history of Dutch, linking up with the research specialization in historical sociolinguistics within the department.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should have learned:

  1. to recognize, situate and explain relevant theories, concepts and terms from the field of historical sociolinguistics;
  2. to apply your knowledge of and insight into theories, concepts and terms in the field to a range of case studies in different languages;
  3. the necessary scientific independence to carry out a thorough study of research literature on a specialized topic and/or a relatively small-scale empirical research project on a related topic within the field of historical sociolinguistics;
  4. to report about your reading of specialized literature in the field by means of a seminar presentation, using fluent academic English and making correct use of the appropriate sociolinguistic terminology;
  5. to report about your insights and findings of a critical literature review and/or an empirical study in the form of a scientific paper, written in an appropriate academic register of a standard variety of English and with an accurate and rich use of the acquired terminology.

More info

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