Introduction to English linguistics (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Anna Zanfei
Anna Zanfei
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Feb 15, 2021 al May 29, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This 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.


Historical and cultural setting of the development of the English language
Sociocultural processes and the history of English
Democratization of the English language: colloquialisms and informalization
Changing attitudes and political correctness
Social roles and identities changes in politeness cultures
Cultural change reflected in the translations of the new testament
Forms of early mass communication
From manuscript to printing: transformation of genres in the history of English
The competing demands of popularization versus economy
The process of standardization
The impact of electronically mediated communication on language standards
English as a global commodity
The role of contact in the history of English
Typology and Typological change in English: Analyciticy and Syntheticy in the History of English

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Barbara A. Fennell A History of English. A Sociolinguistic Approach. Blackwell 2001 0-631-20073-8
Nevalainen, Terttu ;Traugott, Elizabeth Closs The Oxford handbook of the history or English Oxford University press 2012

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is an oral interview in English on the topics of the syllabus