History of linguistics (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Maria Vender
Maria Vender
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
First half of Semester 1 , Second half of Semester 1

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course will comprise two distinct parts. The first part will provide a brief introduction to the critical knowledge of the history of linguistics, from the beginning to contemporary linguistic research. The aspects that will be discussed more throughly concern the Structuralism developed by Ferdinand De Saussure and the Chomskyan Generativism.
The second part will focus on the study of minimalist syntax. Starting from the notions of linguistic categories and constituents, we will study how to draw the structure of phrases and clauses, focusing on the concept of movement.


First Part: History of Linguistics
- The langue/language dichotomy
- Debates on the origins of language
- The grammatical tradition
- The Port-Royal Grammar
- The age of Enlightenment
- Ferdinand De Saussure and the Structuralism
- Structuralist Schools in Europe
- The North-American Structuralism
- Language acquisition in behaviourism
- The Chomskyan Revolution: Language Acquisition and Syntax

Second Part: Syntax
- Preliminary Concepts: categories and constituency tests
- The syntactic structure of constituents and the X-bar Theory
- The syntactic structure of sentences and clauses: TP and CP
- Null constituents: null subjects, null determiners, null auxiliaries and null complementizers
- Head movement
- Wh movement
- A-movement

Main bibliographic reference:
For the first part:
Aronoff, M., & Rees-Miller, J. (Eds.). (2003). The handbook of linguistics. John Wiley & Sons. (Chapter 4).

For the second part:
Radford, A (2004). Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the structure of English. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (Chapters 1 to 8).

Further readings:
Adger, D. (2003) Core Syntax. Oxford University Press: Oxford. (Chapters 1 to 4)

Both attending and not attending students are invited to verify the detailed program on the e-learning page linked to this course.

Assessment methods and criteria

Written Examination.

The final exam aims at assessing the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired by the students during the course, as well as their ability to apply this knowledge in representing the structure of phrases and clauses.
The assessment is carried out by means of a written examination, which will last 2 hours and will consist of both open questions, multiple choice tests and exercises in which the students will be required to represent the structure of given sentences on the basis of what discussed during the classes.
The questions and the exercises will address all the topics presented in the program of the course, including both those studied in the classes, which will be available on the elearning platform, and those autonomously studied by the students in the textbooks.

The tests will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
- substantive correctness of the responses and exhaustiveness of the contents;
- expressive clarity, argumentative capacity and knowledge of the specific language of the subject;
- Correctness and precision in carrying out the exercises.