General Linguistics (Int)
Learning outcomes of the course unit
At the end of the course in General linguistics students obtain a knowledge about the most important issues of theoretical and historical linguistics, which will be useful for both sychronic and historical study of grammar of foreign languages.
Knowledge and understanding
Students will acquire knowledge and comprehension skills in the field of both theoretical and historical linguistics thanks to two main sources: textbooks and frontal lectures, which main aim is to deepen and show with examples the most important themes covered in the textbooks.
Applying knowledge and understanding
Students will be able to apply their knowledge and comprehension skills successfully in the study of both descriptive and historical grammar of foreign languages as well as language teaching.
Students will acquire evaluation skills which will allow them to express autonomous judgements on both descriptive and historical grammars which they use and to integrate their presentations with personal considerations, eventually based on elements acquired during subsequent studies.
Thanks to the critical considerations made on the main points of the subject, students will be able to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist regarding both theoretical and historical linguistics.
Students will also obtain a cultural baggage which will allow them to continue their studies in the linguistic field as well as contributing to their educational path as teachers of foreign languages.
Module A does not require previous knowledge of the subject, since it is aimed to freshers who have never studied linguistics before. It only requires the comprehension skills which are acquired during the course of high school studies.
Module B presupposes the knowledge of the foundations of general linguistics that the students acquired during their first year of studies. For the second part, an elementary knowledge of Latin, French and Spanish would be an advantage, as they allow to memorize the patterns presented more easily.
Course contents summary
The course is divided in two modules: module A (Linguistics) and module B (Glottology).
Module A introduces the general principles of the subject, starting from Saussure’s concept of linguistic sign. The meaning of signifier is explained, both in phonetics and phonology, and the problematic issue concerning the relation with writing will be mentioned.
The notion of meaning (sense and reference) and the pragmatic function of language will be presented. Morphemes will be examined and divided in different classes on the basis of their semantics. At the same time, the issue of morphological typology will be discussed.
The main peculiarities of the sentence’s syntax will be outlined paying particular attention to the semantic and pragmatic function of its components, as well as to the function played by word order.
At the end of the module the peculiarities of a few contemprary theories will be outlined. These theories focus on semantic and communicative aspects: cognitive linguistics, functional grammar and the role and reference grammar.
Module B introduces the main principles of Glottology. The notion of linguistic change will be presented, with a definition of its internal and in particular external causes, which are produced by the contacts between different linguistic communities. The notion of phonetic, morphological and lexical change will be examined, paying particular attention to the issue of loanwords and calques. After that, the comparative historical linguistic from Bopp to the researches of the structuralists will be briefly described, focusing on the general principles which are at the roots of different research trends. At the same time the main aspects of the most important ancient indo-european languages (ancient Indian, ancient Persian, Hittite, Micenean and Classical Greek, Latin), will be outlined.
The last part of the module will focus on an historical-comparative analysis of several phenomena of Italian verbal morphology.
de Saussure F., Corso di linguistica generale, editore Laterza, pp. 9-49 e 83-168.
Gobber G - Morani M., Linguistica generale (2a ed.), editore McGraw-Hill, pp. 1-146.
Croft W. - Cruse D. A., Linguistica cognitiva, editore Carocci,pp. 31-133.
de Saussure F., Corso di linguistica generale, editore Laterza, pp. 171-282. Gobber G - Morani M., Linguistica generale (2a ed.), editore McGraw-Hill, pp. 147-291.
Il Mulino, pp. 31-112.
The topics of each module are presented in 15 lessons lasting two hours each, with the use of a blackboard in order to enable a visualization of the patterns and the analyses described.
At the end of each lesson the professor will arrange a consulting hour in his office in order to give the students the chance to receive explanations about the topics discussed during the lessons and the readings to prepare for the exam.
Assessment methods and criteria
The examination is oral only.
During the examination the student will be given eighth questions: four on the textbooks and four regarding topics addressed during lectures. Students who are unable to attend lectures will need to arrange with the teacher some alternative readings, which will be the argument of four of the eighth questions. The aim of the examination is to verify acquired knowledge, presentation skills and independent judgement. Starting from the acquired knowledge, through textbooks and lectures or potential alternative readings, a discussion aimed at verifying critical ability and independent judgement is encouraged.
An insufficient evaluation is motivated by the lack of a minimal knowledge of the subject, the inability to present coherently the main topics of the examination, and a complete lack of a critical approach toward the subject.
An evaluation between 18 and 21 out of 30 is motivated by a minimal level of knowledge of the subject and a performance during which the student proves a marginal ability to present coherently the main topics of the examination and a marginal critical approach.
An evaluation between 22 and 25 out of 30 is motivated by a fair level of knowledge of the subject and a performance during which the student proves a fair ability to present coherently the main topics of the examination and a fair critical approach.
An evaluation between 26 and 28 out of 30 is motivated by a good level of knowledge of the subject and a performance during which the student proves a good ability to present coherently the main topics of the examination and a good critical approach.
An evaluation between 29 and 30 out of 30 is motivated by an excellent level of knowledge of the subject and a performance during which the student proves an excellent ability to present coherently the main topics of the examination and an excellent critical approach.