Languages enable us to record history, but languages themselves are also products of history and of prehistory. Many clues about the past are to be found in the vocabulary and structures of individual languages; the way languages are distributed in space, and how they are related to each other. At the same time, the discipline of historical linguistics has its own history, which we cannot afford to ignore if we want to approach the subject critically.
This course will examine what linguistics and history have to say about each other. It will introduce you to the history and some of the basic methods of historical linguistics, survey the major language families of the world in historical context, and touch on areas of recent research and controversy.