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Sound Changes in the History of English

Dette er studietilbudet for studieår 2020-2021.


The student will gain knowledge of:
  • The major phonological developments that distinguish English from other Germanic languages and that distinguish early English dialects from one another
  • The chronology of the major phonological developments between Common Germanic and Early Modern English
  • The main controversies about the evolution of the English sound system in modern scholarship
  • The particular problems in interpreting the evidence for sound systems and sound change in historical periods
  • Some main theories of sound change
  • The relationship between traditional philology and linguistic theory

Understand how developments in linguistic theory have changed views of sound change
• Use appropriate notation to indicate sound changes
• Demonstrate how postulated (pre)historic sound-changes explain the actual forms found
• Discuss and problematize the dating and ordering of sound changes
• Discuss well-known theories and controversies about the major phonological changes in the history of English
• Make informed and critical comments on the evidence for specific historical sound changes

Generell kompetanse
By the end of the course, the student will be able to:
• Evaluate spelling variation as phonological evidence
• Carry out research in historical English phonology on an informed basis


The course deals with the evolution of the English sound system, tracing it from Common Germanic. Major dialectal variation is considered and specific debates and problem areas are selected for discussion. Such areas may include all or some of the following: the Old English diphthongs, the voicing of initial fricatives, i-mutation, second fronting, h-dropping, the Great Vowel Shift and quantitative changes. Basic theoretical assumptions and problems relating to sound change are discussed, including problems of evidence and explanation. The course includes a substantial element of student participation.



Anbefalte forkunnskaper

To benefit from the course, the participant needs to have a basic knowledge of linguistic concepts and terms, especially those pertaining to phonology. Prior knowledge of the history of English and/or historical linguistics is also highly desirable.


Oral presentation and written assignment
Vekting Varighet Karakter Hjelpemiddel
Oral presentation1/230 minutterBestått - Ikke beståttAlle.
Written assignment1/22 ukerBestått - Ikke beståttAlle.
The written assignment consists of a set of tasks requiring problem-solving and self-study. In addition to the presentation and assignment, the students should demonstrate their command of the material through active participation in the workshops.

Vilkår for å gå opp til eksamen/vurdering

Attendance at the sessions is obligatory. A student who is absent from 25% or more of the sessions will not be allowed to pass the course. The student has to be present for at least 2/3 of each session for attendance to be recorded.


Merja Riitta Stenroos


The taught part of the course comprises a series of workshops, organized as nine three-hour sessions in total. The sessions form two intensive study periods (5+4 sessions) two weeks apart. The candidates are expected to prepare for the course in advance and to work on their assignments during the two-week break. Presentations may be held either in the first or second teaching period, after agreement with the instructor. Participants from outside Stavanger may take the second part as an online/self-study course. Under exceptional circumstances (such as an epidemic), parts or whole of the course may be carried out online for everyone.
The language of the course is English.

Åpent for

Students enrolled on a doctoral programme.


The course convener will seek student feedback on the quality of the course, both continuously during the course and at its end. An evaluation form in accordance with the expectations in the UiS quality system will be made available to the candidates after the completion of the course. The course participants are encouraged to contribute to the course evaluation



Litteratur/pensum blir publisert så snart det er klargjort av emneansvarlig/faglærer

Dette er studietilbudet for studieår 2020-2021.

Sist oppdatert: 13.08.2020