Introduction to English linguistics (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Paola Maria Caleffi
Paola Maria Caleffi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Feb 18, 2019 al Jun 1, 2019.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

The course is aimed at providing an introduction to English linguistics through the study of the distinct phases of the history of the language, from its birth through to the present time. This insight into the history of English will allow students to consolidate their knowledge of the language thanks to an increased awareness of its origins, and of how it has developed and changed over the centuries. Adopting a sociolinguistic perspective, due consideration will be given to the role of historic and socio-cultural factors in the development and transformation of English, with a focus on the present time, and on the socio-cultural factors that have contributed to making English the global lingua franca.


“The history of English from a sociolinguistic perspective”

The following historical periods will be considered:
-Old English
-Middle English
-Early Modern English
-Late Modern English
-Present Day English
For each of these periods, aspects related to the social and cultural history, and to relevant linguistic changes will be discussed, with a special focus on Present Day English.

Basic readings
Barbara Fennell (2001). A History of English. A Sociolinguistic Approach. Oxford: Blackwell (chapters 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8.2-8.4).
Gerry Knowles (1997). A Cultural History of the English Language. London: Hodder Education.

Additional readings
Joan C. Beal (2004). English in Modern Times. London: Hodder Education.
Stephan Gramley (2012). The History of English. An Introduction. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.
Nicola Galloway and Heath Rose (2015). Introducing Global Englishes. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.
Keith Johnson (2016). The History of Early English. London: Routledge.

The course is structured in 18 teaching sessions and combines frontal teaching with class activities.
The pdf. docs of the teaching sessions as well as other materials for the final oral exam will be made available on the e-learning platform during the course.
The course will be held in English.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Gerry Knowles A Cultural History of the English Language Hodder Education 1997 9780340676806
Barbara A. Fennell A History of English. A Sociolinguistic Approach. Blackwell 2001 0-631-20073-8
Joan C. Beal English in Modern Times Hodder Education 2004 0340761172
Galloway, N. and Rose, H. Introducing Global English Routledge 2015 978-0-415-83531-2
Keith Johnson The History of Early English Routledge 2016 9781138795457
Stephan Gramley The History of English. An Introduction. Routledge 2012 978-0-415-56639-1

Assessment methods and criteria

Contents: students will be examined on the range of topics listed in the syllabus

Aims: the exam aims at evaluating
- knowledge and understanding of the topics in the syllabus
- critical and reflective thinking as well as analytical skills
- clarity of argumentation
- use of appropriate jargon

Assessment: an oral exam consisting of questions on theoretical issues covered in the course and on related metalinguistic knowledge.

Final note: the contents of the exam are the same for attending and non-attending students. All students will be tested for the same skills (see exam aims).