The course requires theoretical knowledge of the principles of historical linguistics, as acquired on a relevant course or by self-study. Course work will be facilitated by prior familiarity with at least one, preferrably two or more Altaic-type languages (e.g. Turkish, Mongolian, Manchu, Korean, Japanese).
Parallel study of one or several modern or historical Altaic-type languages is recommended. For any further work on Altaic linguistics, the acquiring of a reading knowledge in German and Russian, the two principal languages of Altaic linguistics, is also necessary.
After completing the course the student will:
- have an understanding of the meanings given to the term "Altaic" in different times and frameworks
- be familiar with the taxonomy, history and mutual connections of the Altaic languages
- be able to critically apply the methods of historical linguistics to Altaic language material.
Students are advised to take this course any time it is available. The course is offered at least once every two years.
Altaic is the term conventionally given to several languages and language families of Central and East Asia. Depending on the definition, the term covers the Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic languages ("Micro-Altaic"), or also additionally the Koreanic and Japonic languages ("Macro-Altaic"). All these languages share a varying number of material and structural similarities, which used to be explained by postulating an "Altaic" language family, but which are now understood as being due to a complex network of areal interaction. Thus, the Altaic languages offer a field for applying the methods of both genetic and areal linguistics. In addition, many Altaic languages have a long history of written use, and their extinct forms are important philological sources for the understanding of the early history of Central Asia.
This course will present a general overview of the languages covered by the term Altaic, their taxonomy and typology, as well as their history of research. The mutual relations and contacts of these languages will be discussed in the light of shared lexical and grammatical features.
Igor de Rachewiltz & Volker Rybatzki, Introduction to Altaic Philology.
Information on additional material will be given during the course.
Student activities include:
- Active participation in lecture sessions
- Reading and discussing of seminal literature in class
- Completing assigned course work
- Working through self-study material
Course achievements are graded according to the standard grading scale 1-5. Grading is based on class activity, course work and final exam.
Active participation in the course according to the specifications given by the teacher.