Historical Linguistics (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Stella Merlin
Stella Merlin
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
I semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Sep 30, 2019 al Jan 11, 2020.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students will know the theoretical foundations and the technical terminology of the discipline and will be able to identify the phenomena of language change visible in a diachronic perspective at the different levels of linguistic analysis, the forms of interference in the context of language contact, and the different manifestations of geographic and sociolinguistic variation.


A) Birth of the discipline: historical and cultural context. The genealogical tree model (Stammbaum) and the wave model. The Neogrammarians, the concept of phonetic law. Languages of the world.
B) Linguistic change at various levels of analysis: sound change (phonetic and phonological level), morphological level, syntactic level, and semantic-lexical level. Grimm's law. The two phenomena of analogy and grammaticalisation. Language contact and interference: loanwords, loan translations (or calque), linguistic area.
C) Linguistic varieties and variability: standard and non-standard forms. Languages and dialects.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Graffi, Giorgio Breve storia della linguistica Carocci editore 2019 9788843095049 cap. 5 - L'Ottocento
S. Merlin Dispense caricate su Moodle 2019
Graffi, Giorgio; Scalise, Sergio Le lingue e il linguaggio. Introduzione alla linguistica Il Mulino, Bologna 2013 9788815241795 cap. 3 - Le lingue del mondo; cap. 9 - Sociolinguistica e dialettologia; cap. 10 - La trasformazione delle lingue: linguistica storica.
Autori vari Materiali per lo studio caricati su Moodle 2019
Fiorentino, Giuliana Variabilità linguistica. Temi e metodi della ricerca. Carocci editore 2018 9788843090945

Assessment methods and criteria

Written test + oral examination.

The examination consists of two parts: a written test and an oral examination. The written test consists of about 10 questions, requiring closed or open answered, based on the references for the course. If the written test is successfully passed, the oral examination will be a further discussion on the topics of the course.

In both examination parts, students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of the fundamentals and technical terminology of the discipline and be able to apply the acquired knowledge in the description of the language change at the different levels of linguistic analysis, the forms of interference and language contact and the different manifestations of geographic and sociolinguistic variation.

In particular, the correctness and relevance of the answers, the use of the specific terminology for the discipline, the ability to provide corresponding definitions and examples will be evaluated.

***PLEASE NOTICE that 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 ORAL EXAM. Further information are available on the Moodle page of the course.