Introduction to Linguistics LT (i) (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Paola Cotticelli, Federico Giusfredi
Paola Cotticelli
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem 1A, Sem 1B

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The goal of this course is to have the student acquainted with some basic notions concerning several aspects of human language. The course aims to provide the epistemic and methodological basis for general linguistics and historical linguistics. To reach this goal, some of the key concepts of modern language science will be illustrated, such as the distinction between language and languages and the articulation in analytical levels, and the description of the main phonological, morpho-syntactic and semantic phenomena in the perspective of synchronic analysis and with reference to both Italian and other languages typologically and genealogically distant from one another. The main phenomena of change and linguistic contact in the diachronic key will also be discussed.


The course will cover the following topics:
Fundamentals of general linguistics and historical linguistics.
1) General linguistics (prof. Giusfredi): fundamental characteristics of human language; basic notions of phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics.
2) Historical linguistics (prof. Cotticelli): history of the discipline, historical-comparative method; notions of language change, kinship and linguistic family, analogy, Indo-European languages and language families of the world; models of language classification, typological classifications, models for the interpretation of linguistic change (neogrammatic, geolinguistic, sociolinguistic), linguistic contact.

1. key concepts of modern science of language
2. distinction between language and languages
3. description of the linguistic system on the different levels of analysis in synchronic perspective
4. main phonological phenomena,
5. main morpho-syntactic phenomena
6. main semantic and lexical phenomena, both in Italian and in other languages typologically and genealogically distant from each other
7. typological classification of world languages
8. main phenomena of language change
9. main phenomena of language contact in diachronic and synchronic view.
10. Description of the Italian dialects
11. Elements of sociolinguistics

In addition to the mandatory texts for the written and oral exam (see below), the student can use the following in-depth texts
- scripts by the teachers
- further materials available on the platform
- exercises

1a. Scripts on the platform
1b. G. Graffi - S. Scalise, Le lingue e il linguaggio. Introduzione alla linguistica, nuova edizione, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013 (ch. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 and l’Appendice).
Exercises related to all the chapters of the volume, and in particular exercises of phonetic transcription (one of the topic of the examination), are available on the website of the publisher "Il Mulino" (, registering in the area called "Aulaweb".
2.a. Scripts on the platform
2.b. G. Graffi - S. Scalise, Le lingue e il linguaggio. Introduzione alla linguistica, nuova edizione, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2013 (capitoli 3, 9, 10).
2.c. E. Magni, Linguistica storica, Bologna, Patron, 2014.

3) REFERENCES for further information
3a. Lessico di Linguistica, a cura di Paola Cotticelli Kurras, Edizioni dell’Orso, Alessandria 2007.
3.b. R. Lazzeroni, “Il mutamento linguistico”, in R. Lazzeroni (a cura di) Linguistica storica, 16^ ristampa 2011, Carocci, 14-54.
3.c. R. Gusmani, “Interlinguistica”, in R. Lazzeroni (a cura di) Linguistica storica, 16^ ristampa 2011, Carocci, 87-114.

Assessment methods and criteria

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and in accordance with the University of Verona guidelines, during ​the 2020 summer session the assessment modality will be modified as follows: online written and oral exam.

The objective of the examination is to verify the level of achievement of the previously indicated objectives of the course.
The exam consists of a written test with some open questions and some closed questions. Open questions are always present and require the student to describe a linguistic phenomenon, or theories and models learned during the study of texts.
The closed questions, on the other hand, allow us to apply the acquired knowledge on linguistic change, on phonetic transcription, on the analysis of propositions and morphology (mainly of Italian phenomena or of languages taken into consideration during the course). Examples of written exams are presented during the exercises.
Structure of the written exam:
- syntactical analysis of a short text
- short phonetic transcription,
- some multiple choice tests and open-ended questions about all the arguments of the course (both about general and historical linguistics).

The positive overcoming of the written exam gives admission to the oral exam.

Important notice: to pass the written exam, it is necessary to have the knowledge of basic grammatical notions (e.g., to be able to recognize the ‘subject’, the ‘predicate’, the ‘object’, etc., of a clause, to distinguish among the several kinds of subordinate clauses, to correctly classify the different parts of speech, the main linguistic changes, the historical-comparative method to classify language families, etc.). Such notions are available within any good school grammar.

Moreover, some special exercises will be organized on all the topics of the course, with bibliographical references even for non-attending students.

The oral examination covers all the topics of the course.