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Paper 10: Classical and COmparative Philology and Linguistics

Aims and Objectives

  1. To introduce the systematic study of language in general and modern descriptive and theoretical linguistics as applied to Greek and Latin.
  2. To introduce the historical study of language in general and its application to the Classical languages in particular.
  3. To introduce the variety of available evidence relating to the classical languages and their use.
  4. To evaluate the relationship between speech and writing.


Scope and structure of the examination paper 2016–17

Candidates will be expected to show knowledge of Greek or Latin or both. The paper will be divided into four sections as follows:

  • The Writing is on the Wall: Greek and Latin from Primary Sources
  • Principles and Methods of Historical Linguistics
  • Language of Greek Literature
  • Language of Latin Literature

Each section will contain four questions, resulting in 16 questions in total. Candidates will be expected to answer four questions from three different sections.

Subject to Directors of Studies’ approval, supervisions will be organised centrally to complement the lectures.

 

Course descriptions

TOPICS IN GREEK AND LATIN PHILOLOGY AND LINGUISTICS

DR T MEIßNER ET AL
(16 L and C: Michaelmas;
16 L and C: Lent)

TOPIC 1: The Writing is on the Wall: Greek and Latin from Primary Sources

DR T MEIßNER
(8 L and C: Michaelmas)

Practically all of the Greek and Latin we read is from literature, texts that have been handed down to us through multiple stages of copying throughout many centuries, going through the hands of many scribes and scholars. The tens of thousands of Greek and Latin inscriptions, however, connect us much more directly to the Classical past and give us unique insights into the history of the Greek and Latin languages. In this course, we will first examine the origin of the alphabet and its spread throughout Greece and Italy, and put this in a linguistic, historical and cultural context. We will then examine the epigraphic habits and conventions of the Greeks and Romans and will read and interpret a number of inscriptions, from various periods, genres, levels and supports.

It is important to bring pen and paper to the lectures.

Introductory reading:

P. Daniels/W. Bright, The World's Writing Systems, New York 1996

F. Coulmas, Writing Systems. An Introduction to their linguistic analysis, Cambridge 2003

A. Robinson, The Story of Writing: Alphabets, hieroglyphs and pictograms, London 1996

J.T. Hooker, Ancient writing from cuneiform to the alphabet, London 1990

A.E. Cooley, The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy, CUP 2012

A.G. Woodhead, A Study of Greek Inscriptions, 2nd ed., Cambridge 1981

 

TOPIC 2: Principles and Methods of Historical Linguistics

PROF. J P T CLACKSON
(8 L and C: Michaelmas, weeks 5-8)

All languages change over time. Greek and Latin did not appear out of nowhere, but are two languages out of many to have sprung from a common source, Proto-Indo-European. This topic seeks to explore the principles of historical linguistics: how can we find out about Greek and Latin before they were written down? What assumptions are the principles based on, and what is the status and value of the reconstructions? The various methods will be explained and evaluated in detail, with data from the two languages. But the lectures will deal not only with linguistic prehistory, but also with the development of key features of the languages from the beginning well into historical times as an illustration of common types of linguistic change.

Introductory reading:

L. Campbell, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, Edinburgh: University Press 2013 (3rd ed.)

R. McColl Miller, Trask’s Historical Linguistics, Routledge 2015 (3rd ed.)

 

TOPIC 3: The Language of Greek Literature

ANO
(8 L and C: Lent, weeks 1-8)

This topic is concerned with the description and analysis of some of the different literary forms of Greek. We shall address the following questions (among others): What marks off the language of literature from the language of speech? How are linguistic features employed to distinguish different literary genres, and how do those differences originate? How do authors use dialectal differences or archaic forms in literary compositions? How can we separate out colloquial and literary features of language? The lectures will include in-depth analyses of the language of individual authors and texts, many of which will be taken from the Part IA and Part IB schedules, and all of which will be distributed in class.

Suggested introductory reading:

G.C. Horrocks Greek: A History of the Language and its Speakers (2nd ed. 2010) 44–72

E. Bakker (ed.) A Companion to the Greek Language (Blackwell, 2010) 355–482

A.-F. Christidis (ed.) A History of Ancient Greek (corrected ed., Cambridge, 2010) 963–1053

 

TOPIC 4: The Language of Latin Literature

ANO
(8 L and C: Lent, weeks 1-8)

This topic is concerned with the description and analysis of some of the different literary forms of Latin. Starting from the earliest literature written in Latin down to the Classical period, we will examine topics including the development of a Roman poetic register and different genres; the presence and meaning of Greek features (words, morphology, syntax) in Latin literature; developments in the verbal system of Latin; to what extent everyday speech has an influence on literary texts - and to what extent we can use texts as evidence for everyday speech; linguistic aspects of metre and scansion; the use (and abuse) of archaisms. The lectures will include in-depth analyses of the language of individual authors and texts, many of which will be taken from the Part IA and Part IB schedules, and all of which will be distributed in class.

Suggested introductory reading:

J.P.T. Clackson and G.C. Horrocks, The Blackwell History of Latin Language (2007) 183-228

J.P.T. Clackson (ed.) Blackwell Companion to the Latin Language (2011)

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