General Linguistics (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Alfredo Rizza, Roberta Meneghel
Alfredo Rizza
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

The course aims to explore some fundamental concepts of theoretical linguistics, such as, for example, the notion of language on the one side as a general human faculty and, on the other side, as a specific socio-historical system in its multiple aspects (functions, levels, etc.); Cf. Preface, in Graffi - Scalise (2013: 11).
The aim is to provide basic theoretical knowledge and tools for analyzing the different linguistic levels (especially phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics). Particular attention will be given to the metalinguistic dimension: the aim is to acquire the technical terms that can then be used also in the study of other languistic disciplines. Particular attention will be given to the synchronic perspective, understood as a study of the the organization of a language state, that is, its functioning as a system. Finally, a key objective will be the ability to carry out exercises aimed at consolidating (in itinere) and checking (final exam) the acquired knowledge.

At the end of the course the student will be able to:
- explain the basics of languistics
- recognize key concepts, technical terms and the prospect of a typical languistic study
- know how to apply the knowledge gained in the her/his studying career, both in other linguistic classes and in literary and cultural ones.



1) introduction to linguistics as a scientific discipline
2) language, semiotics and communication
3) levels of linguistic analysis

The course will cover the following topics:
1. Preliminary notions: Definition of linguistics and natural languages. Semiotic systems, communication.
2. Phonetics and Phonology: Speakerphone; classification of sounds. Concept of phoneme. Rules of Trubeckoj. Supra-segmental features. Introduction to phonetic change and the concept of phonetic law.
3. Morphology: The notion of morpheme. Word classes. Derivation, Composition, Inflexion. Allomorphy and suppletion. Other relevant morphological processes.
4. Syntax: Valency. Phrase and the criteria for phrase identification. Classification of clauses (principal and subordinate). The concept of subject, predicate and sentence.
5. Semantic and pragmatics: introduction to the semantic change and to the linguistic acts.
6. Vocabulary and Lexicology: Vocabulary and dictionary, interference phenomena.
7. Classification of languages ​​(genealogical, typological etc.). Languages, dialects, language varieties. Bilingualism and diglossia. Pidgin ​​and Creole.

(1) Lectures dedicated to the topics of the course.
(2) Exercises during class with the support of the teacher, and on the online platform to apply the acquired skills.
(3) Non-attending students must study the handbooks listed below and the material available on the e-Learning platform. Teachers will provide support for individual study (we recommend contacting teachers via email).
All students are encouraged to contact the teachers during office hours as indicated on the web pages and through announcements.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Docenti del corso Appunti e materiali forniti sulla piattaforma e-learning 2018
Graffi, Giorgio; Scalise, Sergio Le lingue e il linguaggio. Introduzione alla linguistica Il Mulino, Bologna 2013 9788815241795 Cap. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX.

Assessment methods and criteria

All students (attending and non-attending) must fulfill a mixed written / oral exam, which is divided into two parts.

I. Written test consisting of about 10-12 questions. Questions may be in multiple closed or short-open answers. Other questions will require the solution of exercises where the student will apply her/his knowledge, others will address some specific phenomena (phonetic / phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and interference) illustrated during the course.

II. Oral exam. Short final interview on all topics of the course.

N.B .: A satisfactory completion of the written test is required to access the oral exam. A positive written test is not sufficient to pass the exam.

The written exam precedes the oral exam, the latter follows directly the correction of the written test on the same day or in subsequent days, depending on the number of participants.

The evaluation is expressed in thirtieths, based on the knowledge, the effectiveness, pertinence and readiness of answers.

For ERASMUS students, teachers are available to discuss the content and test methods.