Introduction to German Linguistics (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Birgit Alber
Birgit Alber
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Semester 1 dal Oct 2, 2017 al Jan 20, 2018.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this seminar students will be able to
- understand and explain the basic concepts of Optimality Theory;
- understand scientific articles related to the topic of the seminar;
- perform simple analyses of linguistic phenomena of German in the framework of Optimality Theory;
- present the results of individual research convincingly and with appropriate presentation tools (power-point, hand-outs, final papers etc.)


Linguistic theories aim to construct models of our human language competence. In this seminar one of these models, Optimality Theory, is presented and discussed in detail. Optimality theory is a modern linguistic theory, which has influenced many fields of linguistics, from phonology, to syntax, to language acquisition. In this seminar, the OT literature with respect to linguistic phenomena of German and Italian is discussed and students will work out simple analyses in this framework.

Alber, B. (2014). Optimalitätstheorie. Eintrag in Dürscheid, Christa & Schierholz, Stefan. Wörterbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft. WSK Online. Bd. 1.: Grammatik. 1. Teilband: Formenlehre, 2. Teilband: Syntax. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.
[a pre-print version of this text can be downloaded from the e-learning platform of the seminar]

An extensive bibliography will be given during the seminar and posted on the e-learning platform of the course.

This course is taught in German.

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists in oral presentations in class and a short paper written by students on their projects. In the presentations and the paper students will compare linguistic data from German with data from Italian (and/or other languages) and analyze it in terms of Optimality Theory. Students who cannot attend class regularly should contact the teacher for assignment of a specific paper topic.