69318 - General Linguistics (A)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims at introducing the basics properties of human language, its levels of analysis (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics) and their interrelations. Both a synchronic and diachronic perspective will be adopted. The course will give an overview of the main theoretical models in linguistics and their epistemological foundations. Moreover, it will provide the students with some basic notions regarding the various subdisciplines of linguistics, such as typology (and the search for linguistic universals), sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, lexicology, computational linguistics. At the end of the course, the students will be able to analyze any text from the phonological, morphological, syntactic and semantic point of view.

Course contents

This introductory course in Theoretical Linguistics does not presuppose any previous training in the subject.
The main topics are the following. Definition of language and linguistics. Linguistic sign and Saussure's dichotomies. Illustration and use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Basic notions of phonetic, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Genealogical and typological classification of languages.Outlines of the history of linguistic thought and research.


G. Berruto, M. Cerruti (2011). La linguistica. Un corso introduttivo.Torino: UTET Università.

G. Graffi (2019). Breve storia della linguistica. Roma: Carocci. (only chapters 5, 6 and 7)

Further readings: 

F. Casadei (2011). Breve dizionario di linguistica. Roma: Carocci (nuova edizione).

A. De Dominicis (2013). Fonologie comparate. Suoni e lingue d’Europa, Cina e mondo arabo. Roma: Carocci.

Teaching methods

The course is based on frontal teaching. During the lessons, slides will be used to show graphs, tables and examples regarding the topics of the textbook.

Assessment methods

The assessment of the skills and abilities acquired during the course consists of an oral test as follows: a short exercise aimed at verifying the mastery of the use of the international phonetic alphabet (IPA), as well as commenting and explaining the values of symbols, with particular pay attention to the phonemic inventory of Italian. The next step is an interview that evaluates the topics covered during the course and the faculties of analysis, reflection, and comparison applied to materials and examples from various languages. The questions will mainly (but not exclusively) focus on morphology, syntax, semantics and linguistic typology.
To obtain an 'excellent' grade, the student must acquire a broad and systematic understanding of the topics covered during the lessons, mastery of the specific terminology, and the ability to connect the various fields of the discipline, both with each other and with the languages studied.
A mnemonic knowledge of the subject, limited analytical and synthesis skills, a correct command of the language but with uncertainties in the terminology will be rewarded with a 'fair' grade.
A superficial understanding of the topics, a poor analytical propensity, too short or inappropriate answers will lead to a passing grade or just above the pass mark.
Gaps in knowledge of the subject, improper use of the language, lack of orientation in the materials offered during the course suggest that the exam will be a waste of time for both the student and the teacher.

Teaching tools

Ipad, beamer, internet resources.

Office hours

See the website of Elisabetta Magni