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Linguistic Variation and Change

Code: 100229 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500245 English Studies OT 3 0
2500245 English Studies OT 4 0
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Susagna Tubau Muntaņa

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
english (eng)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:


It is advisable for students to have taken the third-year courses History of English Language I and History of English Language II.

The course requires an initial level of English C2 -Proficiency- of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. With C2 students can understand almost everything they read or hear without effort; they can summarise information from different oral and written sources, reconstruct facts and arguments and present them in a coherent way; they can express themselves spontaneously, with fluency and precision, distinguishing subtle nuances of meaning even in the most complex situations.


Objectives and Contextualisation

This course introduces the student in the description and study of linguistic change and variation in English. Different kinds of linguistic change will be considered (sound change, semantic, lexical, morphological and syntactic change) both from a theoretical and a practical point of view, as well as geographical and social variation (varieties of English).

The aim of the course in relation to the degree is:

  • To describe and analyse different kinds of language change and their relation with processes of analogy, grammaticalisation and lexicalisation.
  • To describe and explain some synchronic features of contemporary English and its varieties in relation to the different historical periods of the language and language change.
  • To describe and explain the main characteristics (shared and unique) of some selected varieties of English.




    English Studies
  • Demonstrate a comprehension of the relationship between factors, processes and phenomena of linguistics, literature, history and culture, and explaining it.
  • Develop critical thinking and reasoning and knowing how to communicate effectively both in your mother tongue and in other languages.
  • Distinguish and contrast the various theoretical and methodological models applied to the study of the English language, its literature and its culture.
  • Rewrite and organize information and arguments coming from several sources in English and presenting them in a coherent and summarised way.
  • Students must be capable of communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialised and non-specialised audiences.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills in order to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.
  • Working in an autonomous and responsible way in a professional or research environment in English or other languages, in order to accomplish the previously set objectives.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Applying the acquired methodologies of work planning to work in an environment in the English language.
  2. Applying the acquired scientific and work planning methodologies to the research in English.
  3. Appropriately assessing and applying the information contained in reference books in terms of diachronic linguistics and the studies based on the main linguistic corpus, in order to interpret and analyse texts in early English and analysing data from other forms of contemporary English.
  4. Assessing the different theoretical models that explain the phenomena of language change and properly applying them to the study of the English language.
  5. Communicating in the studied language in oral and written form, properly using vocabulary and grammar.
  6. Demonstrate a master of the specific methods of individual academic work that prepare the student for a postgraduate specialised education in the same or a different field of study.
  7. Effectively communicating and applying the argumentative and textual processes to formal and scientific texts.
  8. Examining the relation between language change and variation.
  9. Explaining the functional and social causes of variation and language change.
  10. Mastering the advanced knowledge and scientific methodologies related to linguistics, literature, history and culture that prepare the student for a postgraduate specialised education in the same or a different field of study.
  11. Recognising the sociolinguistic phenomena according to the demographic, political, economic and sociocultural causes.
  12. Relating the linguistic characteristics of a text with the variety and different states of the language.
  13. Students must be capable of comprehending advanced academic or professional texts in their own language or the another acquired in the degree.
  14. Students must be capable of precisely arguing ideas and opinions in their own language or another acquired in the degree.
  15. Using the available digital resources in terms of diachronic linguistics.


UNIT 1. Linguistic change (I): sound change, semantic and lexical change.

UNIT 2. Linguistic change (II): morphological and syntactic change.

UNIT 3. Geographical and social variation and its relation with diachronic change.



50 hours of directed class work: 30 hours of theory + 20 hours of practice.

50 hours of autonomous work: 25 hours of reading + 25 hours of revision.

25 hours of in-class supervised work.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lectures (introduction to the study of variation and linguistic changes; characterisation of different kinds of linguistic change and contemporary varieties of English) 30 1.2 1, 2, 14, 13, 8, 9, 11
Practical classes (class discussion on topics from the readings and the syllabus) 20 0.8 1, 2, 14, 13, 10
Type: Supervised      
Individual work and class discussion 25 1 1, 2, 14, 13, 10, 6, 9, 7, 5, 11, 3
Type: Autonomous      
Personal study and exercises 50 2 1, 2, 14, 13, 7, 5, 12, 15, 4


  • The date of tests and submissions are specified in the course calendar posted on Moodle at the beginning of the semester. Any changes in dates will be duly notified.
  • Students will obtain a Not assessed/Not submitted course grade unless they have submitted more than 40% of the assessment items.
  • In the event of a student committing any irregularity that may lead to a significant variation in the grade awarded to an assessment activity, the student will be given a zero for this activity, regardless of any disciplinary process that may take place. In the event of several irregularities in assessment activities of the same subject, the student will be given a zero as the final grade for this subject.
  • In the event that tests or exams cannot be taken onsite, they will be adapted to an online format made available through the UAB’s virtual tools (original weighting will be maintained). Homework, activities and class participation will be carried out through forums, wikis and/or discussion on Teams, etc. Lecturers will ensure that students are able to access these virtual tools, or will offer them feasible alternatives.
  • The level of English will be taken into account in the correction of written work and in the final evaluation.
  • In case of absence on the day of an exam (e.g. due to illness) students must provide a certificate to justify their absence to gain the right to re-assessment.

Review of assessment items:

On carrying out each assessment activity, lecturers will inform students (on Moodle) of the procedures to be followed for reviewing all grades awarded, and the date on which such a review will take place.


Re-assessment forthis course will involve a final summative test (date and time to be announced by the Faculty) which will cover all course content with the following conditions:

  • The student must have obtained a minimum course mark of 3.5/10.
  • The student must have taken/submitted all assessment items.
  • The student must have passed at least 40% of the course.
  • The final course mark if the student passes the re-assessment test is 5. Students cannot re-assess to improve their course mark.

VERY IMPORTANT: Total or partial plagiarism of any of the exercises will automatically be considered "fail" (0) for the plagiarised exercise. If plagiarism occurs for a second time, the entire course will be failed. PLAGIARISM is copying one or more sentences from unidentified sources, presenting it as original work (THIS INCLUDES COPYING PHRASES OR FRAGMENTS FROM THE INTERNET AND ADDING THEM WITHOUT MODIFICATION TO A TEXT WHICH IS PRESENTED AS ORIGINAL). Plagiarism is a serious offense. Students must learn to respect the intellectual property of others, identifying any source they may use, and take responsibility for the originality and authenticity of the texts they produce.

Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Assignment 20% 8 0.32 1, 2, 14, 13, 10, 6, 7, 5, 12, 15
Partial exam 1 40% 8.5 0.34 1, 2, 14, 13, 10, 8, 9, 7, 5, 11, 4
Partial exam 2 40% 8.5 0.34 1, 2, 14, 13, 10, 8, 9, 7, 5, 11, 4, 3


Aitchison, Jean (1991). Language Change: Progress or Decay?. Cambridge: CUP.

Anderwald, Lieselotte (2002). Negation in Non-Standard British English. Gaps, regularizations and asymmetries. London: Routledge.

Green, Lisa (2002). African American English: a linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kortmann, Berndt & Edgar Schneider (eds.). (2004). A handbook of varieties of English: A multimedia reference tool. Mouton: de Gruyter.

McMahon, April (1994). Understanding Language Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Trudgill, Peter (1990). The Dialects of England. Oxford: Blackwell.