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CL LI 501 A: Comparative Phonology of Greek and Latin

Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
DEN 257
Olga Levaniouk
Olga Levaniouk

Syllabus Description:


MW 2:30-4:20

 Prof. Olga Levaniouk                     Denny M262B                            phone: 206-484-0391

Office hours: Tuesday 3-4 and by appointment

Course Description:

Most of us will have to teach Greek and/or Latin at some point in our lives, if we have not already. Suppose you have an inquisitive undergraduate who wonders why Latin does not have an aorist, or why mi-verbs in Greek are such a bother. What do you say? The goal of this course is to provide the students with the basic facts of the (pre)history of the two languages, which would allow them to answer such questions. The idea is to acquire a basic picture of what we know about the Proto-Indo-European, the common ancestor of Greek and Latin, and then to trace a trajectory from that common ancestor to the two languages as we teach and learn them. This is a big-picture course: we will focus on the most salient phonetic, morphological and syntactical developments, the famous examples, the rules you get the most "mileage" out of. This means that you will not be able to answer every question a future inquisitive undergraduate may put to you, but you will acquire a general picture into which to fit such questions, an ability to make a (relatively) educated guess, and a firm knowledge of where and how to look up the answer, should it exist. As always, the history of language is also a cultural history, and we will always keep an eye on the cultural aspects of our subject.


Three take-home tests: 20% each

Two short reports (etymologies): 10% each

Participation: 20%

NB:     All exercises from Fortson will be discussed in class and will not be graded. All take-home tests are open book.

 Schedule (provisional) Link


Bakker, E., ed. 2010. A Companion to the Ancient Greek Language. Blackwell (online through UW libraries Link)

Benveniste, E. 1973. "Indo-European Language and Society." Coral Gables, FL.

(translation of Le Vocabulaire des institutions Indo-Europeennes, Paris, 1969.)

Colvin, S. 2007. A Historical Greek Reader. Mycenaen to Koiné. Oxford .

Colvin, S. 2014. A Brief History of Ancient Greek. Balckwell.  (online through UW libraries Link)

Clackson, J. 2007. Indo-European: An Introduction. Cambridge.

Clackson, J. and Horrocks, G. 2007. The Blackwell History of the Latin Language.


Chantraine, P. 1968-1999. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. Paris.

Ernout, A. and Meillet, A. 1951. Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine. Paris.

Meiilet, A.1925. La méthode comparative en linguistique historique. Paris.

Meier-Brügger, M. 2003. Indo-European Linguistics. Berlin.

Fortson, B. 2009. Indo-European Language and Culture. An Introduction.


Horrocks, G. 2010. Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers. Blackwell.

Nagy, G. 1990b. Greek Mythology and Poetics. Ithaca.

            . 2004a. Homer's Text and Language. Urbana.

Watkins, C. 2000. "The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European

Roots." Boston.

            . Proto-Indo-European: Comparison and Reconstruction.

Cambrigde, MA.

            . How to kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics. Oxford.

Weiss, M. 2009. Outline of the Historical and Comparative Grammar of Latin. Ann




Online resources

intro to articulatory phonetics: vowels Linkand consonants Link

Indo-European Linguistics and Philology Commons Link

Indo-European Linguistics (open access journal) Link

Titus project Link

The University of Texas at Austin Linguistics Research Center Link

And for a bit of fun, here are two articles by E. Powell in the Archaeology magazine:

Telling Tales in Proto-Indo-European (includes Andrew Byrd's reading of Schelicher's and his own tales)  Link

The Wolf Rites of Winter Link

Catalog Description: 
Phonological developments of Greek and Latin from Indo-European to the classical periods of both languages.
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:12pm