Department of Linguistics and Philology

Indology and Comparative Indo-European Philology

Courses in Indology are offered on first and second cycle levels. They comprise introductory courses, continuing courses and higher education courses. Hindi and Comparative Indo-European Philology are offered as introductory courses and continuing courses.


Indology means knowledge about India. One is able to obtain knowledge about the inherited system of thought which is present in Indian culture of yesterday and today through literature in Sanskrit. The oldest texts in Sanskrit are the between 3000–3500 year old Vedic texts, well known in the West as some of the oldest documents of our Indo-European language family (see Comparative Indo-European Philology). During the classical period in India, i.e. the centuries around the birth of Christ, a comprehensive religious, philosophical and scientific literature was developed, along with a well-developed artistic poetry, which builds on an age-old storytelling tradition.

The ancient Indian languge of Sanskrit is the traditional means of expression for Hindu religion, similar to the role of Latin for christianity, in earlier times. There is also a rich buddhist literature in Sanskrit. Ancient Indian languages developed through Middle Indian language stages into Neo-Indian languages (see Hindi). The Middle Indian languages are means of expression for the Indian religions of jainism and southern buddhism. The central content of the study of Indology is Sanskrit. In continuing courses, Middle Indian languages are also studied.


Hindi is the largest language in South Asia and the official language of the Indian union. It is spoken by more than 400 million people in northern and central India, and is the second (or literary) language in the educational system in almost all Indian, non-Hindi-speaking states; it is also "lingua franca", i.e. assistant language, in large parts of India, and, of course, also among large layers of the population of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan. Hindi is also spoken in many countries with a large Indian immigrant population, such as Trinidad, Surinam, Mauritius, and Fiji. Hinid can be placed in third place among the world's languages, after Chinese and English.

Hindi is closely related to Urdu, which is the official language of Pakistan, and one of India's 22 national languages. Urdu has many loanwords from Persian and Arabic, and is written using the Arabic script. The language has its real basis in the Indian linguistic and cultural development, and is one of the inheritors of Sanskrit and the Middle Indian languages. The Hindi alphabet is called devanagari, and is the same as the one most commonly used for Sanskrit.

Comparative Indo-European Philology

The oldest documents of the Indo-European language family are dated to the second millennium BC. Among them are found the Vedic texts in Sanskrit (see Indology). Those texts represent the, perhaps, most comprehensive picture of an early Indo-European language. Hence, Comparative Indo-European Philology is by tradition linked to the study of Sanskrit. This branch of language research illustrates the history of Indo-European languages, and it has developed and been renewed, both methodologically as content-wise by the documents interpreted during the 20th century (in Anatolian Hittite, Tokharian, and Linear B in Greek). The image of the history and structure of the languges build upon data from individual languages and language groups with a common heritage. Important parts of the studies are formed by coursework in Sanskrit and in the phonology, morphology and syntax of the Indo-European languages.

Comparative Indo-European Philology also provide us with an increased knowledge about the population groups who spoke these languages, and about their societies far back in time, and together with archaeology, it contributes to the image of the early history of Europe and Western Asia.