Courses offered at ChulaSEALing2017

  • Participants will choose to attend any of the A, B, and C courses.
  • Together with the special lectures in the evening, the 2-week workload is comparable to 3 credit hours in a semester system. The course titles and descriptions are provided below.

Course ID

Course Title


Time / Venue


The Tibeto-Burman Language Family in Areal Southeast Asian Perspective

This course will cover various phonological, grammatical, and semantic features of Tibeto-Burman that are also to be found in other SEA’n languages. These include tone systems, numeral classifiers, adjectives as stative verbs, verb concatenation, nominalization and relativization, rhinoglottophilia, sentential nominalization, clause-chaining in narratives, and many others. Go to the webpage.

9.00-10.30/ TBA


Language Contact and Contact Languages in SEA

In this course, we review recent and influential theories of language contact and contact language formation, and we discuss how they are applied to past and present issues of contact in SEA. We then discuss the socio-historical and typological dynamics that explain typical contact phenomena of the region. Finally, we look at a number of case studies, from contact ecologies of the Malay/Indonesian region, to present-day ecologies of shift as a consequence of migration and modernization. Go to the webpage.

9.00-10.30/ TBA


Grammaticalization in East and Mainland Southeast Asian Languages

Grammaticalization is generally assumed to be the same cross-linguistically. In this course, we will discuss to what extent this assumption is adequate by comparing phenomena of grammaticalization and constructionalization in East and mainland Southeast Asian (EMSEA) languages with other languages. As will be seen from that comparison, grammaticalization in EMSEA languages is characterized by the following properties:

1) High relevance of pragmatic inference.

2) Limited co-evolution of meaning and form.

3) The specific relation between constructionalization and grammaticalization as it is described in more traditional approaches. These properties are areal characteristics of EMSEA languages and they show specific effects in linguistic complexity (overt vs. hidden complexity).

Go to the webpage.

9.00-10.30/ TBA


Comparative Kra-Dai

Major advances regarding the history of Kra-Dai languages have been made since the publication of the Handbook of Comparative Tai (Li 1977). In this state-of-the-art course, we will discuss key issues in the Tai phonological reconstruction and compare the various proposals regarding the Proto-Tai sound system and the subgroup structure of Tai. We will survey reconstruction of the proto-languages of Kam-Sui, Hlai, and Kra. Furthermore, we will examine relationships among the four major branches as well as the positions of lesser known languages such as Be, Lakkja, and Biao as well as Kra-Dai’s connections to other language families especially Austronesian and Sino-Tibetan. Students should have foundational training in historical linguistics and command basic skills in phonological reconstruction using the Comparative Method.



Language Documentation in the Context of Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is home to hundreds of language with little or no documentation. Many of these languages are or will soon be threatened by shift to majority or other locally dominant languages. It is imperative that we collect as much information about such languages before this happens, both to serve the needs of linguistics and to provide materials for community goals, such as orthography development, language retention and revitalization. In this course, we will introduce the task of documentation as a distinct enterprise from description. We will discuss techniques for community engagement, recording, metadata management, and preparation of data for archival purposes. Besides these practical matters, we will emphasize the fundamentally interconnected nature of documentation and analytic/descriptive objectives. We will consider issues in subdomains of grammar which are of special concern in the Southeast Asian context, such as tonal phenomena and sesquisyllabicity, the status of words and particles, elaborate expressions and ideophones. Go to the webpage.

(Week 1) 11.00-12.30/ TBA


Variation in Indigenous Southeast Asian Languages

Linguists in a wide range of subfields are increasingly focusing on variation, including complex patterns found across regional dialects, age, gender, speech style, kinship, ethnicity, and other factors. The growing connections between variationist sociolinguists and other linguists are creating new opportunities for research collaboration and publications across subfields. In this course, we will examine how to identify variables of interest, how to collect variationist data, how to uncover relevant social and linguistic factors in both large languages and small, endangered languages, and how to analyze the data and model the results. We will discuss the latest sociolinguistic theories about variation, and examine prior work on indigenous languages of Southeast Asia and elsewhere, including lesser-studied sociolinguistic variables like tone. The course will also provide “hands-on” training for variationist analysis across all levels of linguistic structure, such as acoustic sociophonetics and sociotonetics, grammatical and lexical variation, and practical statistical methods. Participants are invited to bring their own field data for discussion. Go to the webpage.

(Week 2) 11.00-12.30/ TBA


Mainland Southeast Asian Languages in Global Perspective

This course will examine the features of Mainland Southeast Asian languages, identifying common trends across the area, and exploring limits on variation around those trends, with reference to what is known about universals and diversity in languages of the world, at all levels of linguistic organization, from phonetics and phonology, to morphology and syntax, to semantics and pragmatics. We will focus on both description and explanation, working with multiple causal time frames, including synchronic, enchronic, and diachronic frames. Go to the webpage.

11.00-12.30/ TBA


The Synchrony and Diachrony of Tonation in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is tonally diverse. Languages of the area have tone systems that range from complex inventories with a large number of contour tones, with or without voice quality contrasts, to simpler register systems in which pitch, voice quality and vocalic distinctions are intrinsically associated. Furthermore, while some languages have no tonal alternations, others exhibit complex autosegmental rules and tonal morphophonology. In this course, we will explore this diversity from parallel synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Themes that will be treated include tone typology and the nature of tonality, tone-consonant interactions, tonogenesis, tonal coarticulation, tonal perception, the interaction between tone and intonation, and productive tonal phonology and its development. The seminar will alternate lectures with hands-on introductions to methods such as pitch tracking, resynthesis, and laryngography, which are commonly used in experimental studies of tone and voice quality. Go to the webpage.

14.00-15.30/ TBA


Language Policy and the Sociolinguistics of Language Endangerment in Southeast Asia

Most nations have a single national language which is a focus of national identity and unity, supported by a language policy which supports and develops this language. Indigenous minority groups within each nation are therefore marginalized and many of their languages are becoming endangered. This course discusses how a national language policy can support both a national language and indigenous minority languages, using sociolinguistic and educational strategies to maintain the linguistic heritage and diversity of a nation, develop bilingual skills among minority groups, and integrate minorities successfully into the nations where they live. In particular, the course investigates the sociolinguistic factors in language maintenance, which include linguistic, geographical, demographic, historical, religious, cultural, economic and other factors. It also discusses the processes of language endangerment and some of the policy settings and techniques which can be used for reversing it. Go to the webpage.

14.00-15.30/ TBA


Microparametric Variation and Historical Change in Southeast Asian Languages

Syntactic research on Southeast Asian languages has tended to focus on prestige or written varieties. In contrast, research on European languages has found much profit in investigating microparametric variation across multiple varieties with minimal, but interesting syntactic differences. This course will investigate minority varieties such as Shan and highly differentiated families such as Karen to uncover the main parameters of variation and find out how they function in historical change. Each student will be asked to “adopt” a minority variety and describe an interesting feature of its syntax. A basic course in syntax is recommended, but not required. Go to the webpage.

14.00-15.30/ TBA