World Language Structures

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Sunday 17 January 2021
Friday 26 March 2021
27 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module explores syntax from a cross-linguistic perspective and provides students with a deeper understanding of syntactic variation. We examine key concepts of grammatical organization as it is exhibited in the languages of the world. We look at syntactic variation, as well as the limits which seem to operate on this variation. We will explore a number of categories and concepts which are challenged when data from a broader range of languages is taken into consideration.

Module aims

• To introduce students to the key goals and motivation behind cross-linguistic syntactic analysis
• To stimulate student’s interest in cross-linguistic variation
• To provide students with an understanding of syntactic variation in the world’s languages
• To equip students with the skills of syntactic analysis using data from a range of languages
• To develop students’ skills of syntactic argumentation

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

• Engage with key issues and concepts in grammatical analysis
• Understand the goal of enquiry in syntax from a cross-linguistic perspective
• Explore syntactic variation (and its limits) found in the world’s languages
• Analyse syntactic data from a range of languages
• Use data to support argumentation

Module information

1. Lexical categories
2. Encoding grammatical relations
3. Configurationality
4. Valency changing
5. Head-marking and dependent-marking languages
6. Tense-aspect-mood, modality
7. Sentence types
8. Subordination
9. Information structure
10. Language universals

Learning and teaching methods

The two-hour session will combine lecture and practical tasks.


  • Paul Kroeger. (2005) Analyzing grammar: an introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Tallerman, Maggie. (2015) Understanding syntax, New York: Routledge.
  • Song, Jae Jung. (2001) Linguistic typology: morphology and syntax, New York: Longman.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Assignment 1    40% 
Coursework   Assignment 2    60% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Hannah Gibson, email: h.gibson@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Hannah Gibson
Dr Hannah Gibson, Office: 4.127, Telephone: 01206 872227, Email:h.gibson@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Dr Christopher Lucas
University of London
Senior Lecturer in Arabic Linguistics
Available via Moodle
Of 935 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
935 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Language and Linguistics

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