SIS code: 

Variability of languages in time and space

Variabilita jazyků v čase a prostoru


Fall term 2020/2021: Wednesday 12:20-13:50 via Zoom - ***for details on how to access the Zoom meetings please write at sevcikova et***

Did you know that...

  • there are languages with less than three vowels and more than 30 consonants?
  • stress can be totally unbounded?
  • there may be up to 7 consonants in one syllable?
  • there may be a special case for doing something without someone?
  • Hungarian has 19 cases, while old French has only two?
  • a protolanguage can be reconstructed?
  • inflection and derivation are quite close to each other?

How to compare languages if they are so different?

The course is an introduction to how multiple languages can be approached by linguistic analysis. First, different approaches to classification of the world’s languages will be summarized (genealogical classification, areal typology, language typology). Referring to existing resources containing information on many languages, we will focus on language typology of phonological, morphological, and syntactic features. Recent approaches to typology of word formation will be presented too. The course concludes with general types of diachronic changes and basic terms of sociolinguistics.


SIS code: NPFL100

The course's site in the Student Information System

Semester: winter

TeachersAnja Nedoluzhko, Magda Ševčíková, Šárka Zikánová


Timespace Coordinates

Wednesday 12:20-13:50 via Zoom

Course completion requirements

Completion of check-up tests during the term and active participation


Course schedule







Introduction, lecture topics, course completion requirements

Sep 30, 2020

Lecture 1

Magda Ševčíková

Basic facts and linguistic resources on the world's languages


Oct 7, 2020

Lecture 2

Magda Ševčíková

Classification of the world's languages

  • Genetic classification
  • Areal typology
  • Linguistic typology


Oct 14, 2020

Lecture 3

Magda Ševčíková

Basic linguistic terms

  • Linguistic sign and the language system
  • Types of morphemes
  • Linguistic disciplines


Oct 21, 2020

Lecture 4

Anja Nedoluzhko

Writing systems around the world

  • Differences between written and spoken forms of the language.
  • The development of writing systems.
  • Characteristics of pictographic, ideographic, morphographic, syllabic and alphabetic writing systems 


Oct 28, 2020   no lecture (public holiday)

Nov 4, 2020

Lecture 5

Anja Nedoluzhko

Linguistic typology: Phonology

  • Vowel and Consonant inventories 
  • Segmental processes (e.g. Vowel harmony)
  • Syllables
  • Suprasegmentals (stress, length, tones)


Nov 11, 2020

Lecture 6

Anja Nedoluzhko

Linguistic typology: Morphology

  • Distinguishing word classes
  • Structural typology (How grammatical meanings are built in languages)
  • Typology of grammatical categories:  Evidentiality, Determination, Head-marking, Number, Case
  • Differential object and place markers


Nov 18, 2020

Lecture 7

Magda Ševčíková

Linguistic typology: Word-formation 

  • Word-formation across languages
  • Approaches to cross-linguistic study of word formation


Nov 25, 2020

Lecture 8

Anja Nedoluzhko

Linguistic typology: Syntax 

  • Different types of syntactic structure. Examples for Nominativ-Accusative, Ergative-Absolutive syntax and Active systems.
  • Word order typology: within the whole sentence and within the noun phrase
  • Correlations in word order typology, examples of recently found correlations in modern typology studies
  • Standard Average European


Dec 2, 2020

Lecture 9

Šárka Zikánová

Synchrony and diachrony, typical diachronic changes 

  • Diachronic view of language relatedness. Influence of diachronic language processes on language variability.
  • Diachronic changes in phonology. Sound changes in Indoeuropean and Slavic languages
  • Diachronic changes in morphology


Bible translations

Dec 9, 2020

Lecture 10

Šárka Zikánová

Basic terms of sociolinguistics 

  • Language and identity
  • Language standards
  • Language and Power


Dec 16, 2020

Lecture 11

Šárka Zikánová

Speakers’ attitude to language 

  • Stratification of a language
  • Language norm and codification
  • Ideolect, sociolect, etnolect


Jan 6, 2021

Lecture 12

Šárka Zikánová


  • Style forming factors
  • Text genres anf register
  • Style and language means (vocabulary, morphology, syntax)




  • Jan Bičovský: Vademecum starými indoevropskými jazyky. Praha: Univerzita Karlova v Praze, Filozofická fakulta, 2009.
  • Lyle Campbell: Historical linguistics: An introduction. 2004.
  • Bernard Comrie: Language universals and linguistic typology. 1989.
  • Terry Crowley – Claire Bowern: An introduction to historical linguistics. 2010.
  • František Čermák: Jazyk a jazykověda (Přehled a slovníky). Praha: Karolinum, 2004.
  • Jiří Černý: Dějiny lingvistiky. Olomouc: Votobia, 1996.
  • Jiří Černý: Úvod do studia jazyka. Olomouc: Rubico, 1998.
  • Tomáš Duběda: Jazyky a jejich zvuky. Univerzálie a typologie ve fonetice a fonologii. Praha: Karolinum, 2005.
  • Adolf Erhart: Základy jazykovědy. Praha: SPN, 1984.
  • Victoria Fromkin – Robert Rodman – Nina Hyams: An Introduction to Language. International Student Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, 2006.
  • Eva Hajičová – Petr Sgall – Jarmila Panevová: Úvod do teoretické a počítačové lingvistiky. Svazek 1: Teoretická lingvistika. Praha: Karolinum, 2002.
  • Martin Haspelmath et al. (eds.): Language typology and language universals. 2001.
  • Hans Henrich Hock: Language history, language change, and language relationship: an introduction to historical and comparative linguistics. 2009.
  • Jakov G. Testelec: Vvedenie v obščij sintaksis. Moskva: Izdatel'stvo RGGU, 2001

Online resources: