There are four special courses which do not specifically belong to any of the other programmes: Comparative Uralic Linguistics (slot 1), Old Javanese (slot 2), Sumerian (slot 2), Lexicostatistics (slot 4). Note that both Old Javanese and Sumerian are scheduled for the same slot 2.

Slot 1: Introduction to comparative Uralic linguistics

Mikhail Zhivlov (Moscow)

Course description
The aim of the course is to give an overview of the historical grammar of the Uralic languages with particular emphasis on etymology, comparative phonology and issues of language contact between Uralic and Indo-European languages. Brief overviews of particular subgroups of Uralic family will include very short structural sketches of the main languages, historical phonology of the subgroup in question and information on the main peculiarities of its lexicon from the historical point of view. At the end of the course, the student should be able to independently evaluate Uralic etymologies proposed in the literature and reconstruct Proto-Uralic forms.

Course outline
1. Survey of Uralic languages
2. The structure of Proto-Uralic
3. Subgroups of Uralic: Finnic and Saami
4. Subgroups of Uralic: Mordvin and Mari
5. Subgroups of Uralic: Permic
6. Subgroups of Uralic: Ob-Ugric and Hungarian
7. Subgroups of Uralic: Samoyed
8. Contact between Indo-European and Uralic languages (I)
9. Contact between Indo-European and Uralic languages (II)
10. Uralic homeland and prehistory

The student should be familiar with the general principles of historical linguistics. No prior knowledge of Uralic languages is required.

- Abondolo, Daniel M. (editor). 1998. The Uralic Languages. London and New York: Routledge. Collinder, Björn. 1960. Comparative Grammar of the Uralic Languages. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell
- Hajdu, Péter. 1975. Finno-Ugrian Languages and Peoples, translated by G. F. Cushing. London: André Deutsch
- Napol'skih, V. V. 1997. Vvedenije v istoričeskuju uralistiku. Izhevsk
- Sinor, Denis (editor). 1988. The Uralic Languages: Description, History and Foreign Influences. Leiden: Brill 

Slot 2: Introduction to Old Javanese

Willem van der Molen (Leiden / Depok)

Course description
Old Javanese is an Austronesian language. It is the oldest documented language of this family, used in Java - at least in written form - between the ninth and sixteenth centuries. Its literature consists of prose and poetry, varying from royal edicts to religious tracts and literary writings. Both the language and the literature betray a massive influence from Sanskrit. At the end of the course the students should be able to read and interpret simple texts with the help of a dictionary.

Course outline
During week 1 an outline of Old Javanese grammar will be given. In week 2 selections of a prose and a poetic text will be read, with continued attention for grammatical problems.

No knowledge of Old Javanese or any other Austronesian language is required. There will be short daily translation assignments.

Materials will be supplied. The standard Old Javanese-English dictionary by P.J. Zoetmulder is available online (http://sealang.net/ojed/).

Introductory reading
- Ali, Daud, 2010, 'The early inscriptions of Indonesia and the problem of the Sanskrit cosmopolis.' In: Pierre-Yves Manguin, A Mani, and Wade Geoff (eds.), Early interactions between South and Southeast Asia. Reflections on cross-cultural exchange (Singapore; New Delhi: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies; Manohar India. Nalanda-Sriwijaya Series 2), pp. 278-295
- Hunter, Thomas M., 1996, 'Ancient beginnings. The spread of Indic scripts.' In: Ann Louise Kumar and John H. McGlynn (eds.), Illuminations. The writing traditions of Indonesia, featuring manuscripts from the National Library of Indonesia (Jakarta, New York and Tokyo: The Lontar Foundation; Weatherhill), pp. 3-12
- Ogloblin, A.K., 2005, 'Javanese.' In: Alexander Adelaar and Nikolaus P. Himmelmann (eds.), The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar (London, New York: Routledge. Routledge Language Family Series), pp. 590-624
- Supomo, S., 1996, 'The sovereignty of beauty. Classical Javanese writings.' In: Ann Louise Kumar and John H. McGlynn (eds.), Illuminations. The writing traditions of Indonesia, featuring manuscripts from the National Library of Indonesia (Jakarta, New York and Tokyo: The Lontar Foundation; Weatherhill), 13-32

Slot 2: Sumerian

Bram Jagersma (Leiden)

Course description
Sumerian is an ancient Near Eastern language which was spoken in what is now southern Iraq. It was there the main written language until ca. 1700 BC and is known to us from more than 100,000 inscriptions and clay tablets written in the cuneiform script, which the Sumerians invented around 3200 BC. Sumerian is a language isolate and its position in a remote corner of the Near East shows it to be a last remnant of the languages that preceded the arrival of Semitic languages in the area.

Course outline
The first day we will look at the basic principles of the Sumerian script and spelling, and what they tell us and do not tell us about the Sumerian language and its pronunciation. During the rest of the course, we will cover the basic grammar of Sumerian and read a few simple texts in transliteration. The course materials, including an introductory grammar to Sumerian, will be supplied.

Students need to be familiar with basic linguistic terminology, but previous knowledge of Sumerian or the cuneiform script is not required.

There will be short daily homework assignments.

Slot 4: Basic introduction to lexicostatistics and glottochronology (16.00 - 17.30)

George Starostin (Moscow)

Course description
This theoretical / methodological course focuses on lexicostatistics, a widely used method of classifying languages based on the percentage of etymologically related items in their basic lexicon, and on the related procedure of glottochronology — a controversial, but frequently successful method of assigning chronological dates of disintegration for the ancestral protolanguages of modern languages. Under the right conditions and when properly handled, lexicostatistics can be quite a powerful tool not just for language classification, but even for demonstrating genetic relationship of languages. In addition, a thorough study of the comparative evolution of basic lexicon in related languages offers deep insights into various issues of historical semantics, typology of phonetic and semantic change, areal linguistics, and general lexicology.

The aim of the course is to give a brief overview of the main postulates of lexicostatistics, the principal advantages and limitations of the method, and its application to concrete cases of language relationship, ranging from Indo-European and other Eurasian languages to linguistic families of other continents. From a practical angle, the course will also instruct students on how to work with The Global Lexicostatistical Database, a recently undertaken online project that collects basic lexicon inventories of the world's languages and uses them as the basis for different types of lexicostatistical analysis.

An overall acquaintance with the most basic elements of general and comparative-historical linguistics is required; no special language knowledge is necessary. Since the course focuses more on various theoretical aspects of language evolution, the underlying mathematical apparatus will be kept to a minimum.

There will be select reading assignments in class and occasional small homework assignments.

Participants who would like to prepare for the course in advance may check the following sources:

- Sheila M. Embleton. Statistics in Historical Linguistics. Bochum: Studienverlag Dr. N. Brockmeyer, 1986.
- Colin Renfrew, April McMahon & Larry Trask (eds.). Time Depth in Historical Linguistics. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Oxford Pub­li­shing Press, 2000.
- Dyen, Isidore (ed.): Lexicostatistics in genetic linguistics. Proceedings of the Yale Conference, Yale University, April 3-4, 1971. The Hague: Mou­ton, 1973.
April McMahon & Robert McMahon. Language Classification by Numbers. Oxford University Press, 2005.
- George Starostin. Preliminary lexicostatistics as a basis for language classification: a new approach. Journal of Language Relationship, v. 3, pp. 79-117, 2010.
- Morris Swadesh. Lexicostatistic dating of prehistoric ethnic contacts. // Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 96, pp. 452-463.