skip to primary navigationskip to content
 

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 2017–18

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: Greek and Latin Through Time

DR N ZAIR
(8 L and C: Michaelmas)

An introduction to language change, with particular reference to the pre-history and history of Latin and Greek. The course will concentrate closely on the phonological development of the languages, in particular the principal historical Greek and Latin sound changes, such as loss of /h/ and /w/ in Greek, labiovelars, changes in the Greek vowel system, rhotacism and vowel weakening in Latin.

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.)

L. R. Palmer, The Greek Language, Bristol Classical Press 1995 (many printings)

L. R. Palmer. The Latin Language, Bristol Classical Press 1990 (many printings)

 

TOPIC 2: The Workings of Greek and Latin

DR T MEIßNER
(8 L and C: Michaelmas, weeks 5-8)

A systematic description of Greek and Latin morphology and syntax,
including topics such as inflectional and derivational morphology; the
categories of the noun and verb; case use and case syncretism; grammaticalisation; word-order and word-order change.

 

TOPIC 3: The Language of Greek Literature

DR R THOMPSON
DR P JAMES
(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

DR N ZAIR
(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 The Latin Language (2007) 183-228

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

RSS Feed Latest news

Roman Britain

Aug 07, 2017

Faculty statement concerning ethnic diversity in Roman Britain

Access, Outreach and Alumni Administrator

Jul 28, 2017

Details of how to apply for this post are now available online. Closing date: 25 August 2017.

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme

Jul 18, 2017

Details of how to apply for this scheme, for entry in 2018, are now available online.

Inaugural Lecure: Professor James Clackson

Jun 06, 2017

Watch again: the inaugural lecture by Professor James Clackson, Professor of Comparative Philology, " 'Dangerous Lunatics’: Cambridge and Comparative Philology".

View all news