Lingua Inglese I 2014-2015 Daniela Salusso

Lingua Inglese I 2014-2015
Daniela Salusso
I ANNO L-12 , CODE: LIN.0009
Information about the course
Class starts at 8:15 p.m. and ends at 9:45 p.m.
• a written exam
• it will consist in activities and questions, in English,
based on the course contents and on the set book
• it can be taken only once per session
• students must have passed the first year prova
propedeutica (or lettorato), whose result will be
integrated with the mark of the lingua inglese course
PROVE PROPEDEUTICHE (lettorato): 3 exams per year
1 in the Summer Session 2014, 1 in the Autum
Session 2014, 1 in the Winter Session 2015
LINGUA INGLESE : 8 per year
4 in the summer session 2014 (1 in May, 2 in June, 1 in
2 in the autumn session 2014 (1 in September, 1 in
2 in the winter session 2015 (1 in January, 1 in
Course Timetable
Week 1: 9/10/11 February: Introduction – Language change and
variation in English
Week 2: 16/17/18 February :The history of English
Week 3: 23/24/25 February: (follows)
Week 4: 2/3/4 March: The pronunciation of English
Week 5: 9/10/11 March: (follows)
Week 6: 16/17/18 March: English grammar
Week 7: 23/24/25 March: (follows)
Week 8: 30/31 March/ 1 April: The English lexicon: from words to
Easter break: 2-7 April – 8 April: No lesson
Week 9: 13/14/15 Apr (follows) + exercises and exam practice
This timetable is only “tentative” – if lessons are cancelled they will be
added after the Easter break
Title of the course
“Introduction to present-day English:
historical background, geographical
spread and linguistic features”
Set book
V. Pulcini, a cura di,
A Handbook of Present-day English,
Carocci, Roma , 2009
(Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, pp. 1-237)
* Chapter 5 will be covered in the second year
Becoming familiar with the handbook
Becoming familiar with the handbook
Four chapters written by four
lecturers in this university
(Mazzaferro, Pulcini,
Minutella, Prat)
(see Table of Contents pp. 7-9)
1) The history of English
2) The pronunciation of
3) The grammar of English
4) English lexicon
Each chapter …
• is composed of the main text,
the chapter overview and a
list of study questions and
• is structured into titled and
numbered sections
• has key-terms and names in
bold print (see analytic index)
• has key concepts in the
• has a selected bibliography of
important references
Some features of an academic
A handbook is written by experts to experts-to be.
e.g. concepts and terms, which are widely shared by
the scientific community, are explained, or clarified
through examples.
e.g. Different approaches and terminologies may be
presented and compared
e.g. use of graphic devices (e.g italics), abbreviations
and phonetic symbols (pp.11-15), cross-references (see
Chapter 3, §4), bibliographic conventions in the text and in
the final bibliographies
Aims of the course
• To understand where the English language comes
• To understand who speaks English, where and for
what purposes
• To understand how the English language works
• To build good linguistic foundations for further
research in any area of the English studies
Competences required
• PRACTICAL COMPETENCE in the use of English,
both spoken and written (language teaching and
learning/EFL methodology)
• SCIENTIFIC STUDY of English: based on data, making
implicit knowledge explicit, using a metalanguage to
talk about language (English linguistics)
Developing practical competence: selfstudy resources
Useful websites
• BBC – learning English:
• British Council – Learn English:
• Oxford Paravia concise (EN-IT/IT-EN):
• Cambridge Dictionaries Online (monolingual, different
language varieties):
Why study linguistics?
5 Reasons: David Crystal on “Doing Linguistics”
Language change and variation in
Language change and variation in
• Do languages change in time? Types of change: phonological,
morpho-syntactic and semantic
• How do they change? Synchrony, diachrony, historical linguistics,
history of the language, comparative linguistics, language family,
Indo-European, Germanic family, Romance or Neolatin family
• Why do they change? “external” (e.g. historical events, inventions,
new ideas) versus “internal” (e.g. analogy, hypercorrection, push
chain processes)
• What is “the best form” of a language? (standard vs non-standard
• What is the relationship between language and society?
• How and why did English spread in the world and become a global
language? (from English to “Englishes”)
A very important question
Is the study of the history and
varieties of English relevant to
university students of English?
 For cultural reasons
 To understand more about present-day English
- the gap between spelling and pronunciation
- the mixed nature of its lexis e.g. “liberty” vs
- the existence of regular and irregular verbs
- the linguistic situation of present-day UK
 To reinforce practical competence
- to improve pronunciation and grammatical
- to expand lexical competence
- to be prepared to understand different varieties of
Linguistic variability and change
Languages are living entities:
1) They change over time
2) They reflect the culture of the speech community
in which they are employed
1) Language change along a historical continuum
 the perspective is diachronic
2) Language variability according to socio-cultural
factors  the perspective is synchronic
The synchronic approach
The synchronic approach …
... describes language as it is at a particular moment in time
... The object of its description is a variety referred to as ‘standard’
Standard variety: the language par excellence in terms of social prestige, language
functions and domains of use.
Who speaks the standard variety of a language?
Educated people
• In which contexts is the standard variety of a
language used?
Official circumstances (e.g. certain TV programmes – BBC news; political discourse;
school; university)
Is it more likely to be based on spoken or written language?
Standard and non-standard varieties
• Development of a standard form of English through long processes
of selection (London English) and codification through grammars
and dictionaries
• Development of a standard accent : The Received Pronunciation
• There is no intrinsic value in the features that characterize the
standard variety of a language:
– Favor (AmE) vs. favour (BrE)/ center (AmE) vs. centre (BrE)
– Cockney (working class, East End of London)
• glottal stop /ʔ/in the pronunciation of /t/: Saturday; quite well
• Th-fronting: the fricative sounds /θ/ or /ð/  /f/ or /v/: brother
[‘br∧ðə(r)]  [‘br∧və(r)]; three [θri:]  [fri:]
– Double negative (many non-standard varieties) I didn’t say nothing!
Standard and non-standard varieties
Prescriptive views
 A prescriptive view of
language formulates rules for
how language should be used
 Non-standard varieties are
considered as ‘irregular’,
‘unsystematic’. They do not
have the same status as
standard varieties.
 Language teaching tends to
focus on standard varieties
(e.g. pedagogical grammars)
Descriptive views
 A descriptive view is concerned
with the language that people
actually use  to understand
how languages work
 All the varieties of a language
have equal status
 Language varieties are studied
to understand the relationship
between a certain language
form, i.e. a variant (e.g. a new
word, a specific syntactic
construction, a vowel sound),
and social variables (e.g. social
class, gender, age)
 The study of the relationship between language and society
 The aim is to understand how language variability is related to
social factors such as:
• class: e.g. working-class, middle-class, upper-class
• social networks: e.g. professional networks (colleagues, customers),
family and friends
• sex/gender identities: women vs. men (sex as a biological fact)/ gender
identity as a social phenomenon
• age: childhood, adolescence, adulthood
• ethnicity: factors that create a sense of belonging to macro-groups  it
replaces the concepts of race, national origin and culture
Positive/negative attitudes (a variety may be perceived as
less or more prestigious and useful than others)
Labov (1966):
Linguistic variation
and social class 
positive attitudes
Labov studied the
patterning of [r]
pronunciation (r-full) in
New York City before a
consonant (fourth) and
at the end of words
(floor) as a sign of social
Speakers’ social class: (0-5)
lower classes; (6-8) middle
class; (9) upper-class.
Speech style: casual speech,
careful speech, reading
style, word lists, minimal
pairs (god and guard, dock
and dark)
Labov (1966): Linguistic variation and social
class  positive attitudes
Hypercorrection: middle-class speakers
conform to the prestige norm with higher
frequency than the highest social class
Milroy (1992): Linguistic variation and
social networks  negative attitudes
• In Belfast urban vernacular, words such as pull, bull, wool are
pronounced with the vowel sound [ʌ] instead of the standard sound
• Milroy discovered that this non-standard variant was used
considerably less by speakers with weak network ties with the local
• Strong networks support the maintenance of varieties even if they
are stigmatized.
Milroy, J. (1992). Linguistic Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell
The diachronic approach
The diachronic approach …
• … focuses on language change over time
• … defines the relationships among languages
so as to understand how they ame to be as
they are  comparative linguistics
• … reconstructs the historical development of
a specific language  history of language
Comparative linguistics
• Which family does the English language
belong to? Germanic languages
• Which languages belong to the Germanic
family? German, Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans,
Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Yiddish
• What is the proto-language from which
Germanic languages and other language
families have descended? Indo-European
Indo-European Languages
Similarities among Indo-European
Why and how do languages change in
• External causes for change: they are extralinguistic or social factors
– Technological innovation: e.g. online, freeware, netiquette; URL, HTML,
– New concepts and relevant vocabulary: e.g. sustainability, stakeholder,
– Military conquest: e.g. The Norman Conquest (XI century)  liberty,
guardian, soldier, beauty, music, poet, dangerous, flower, pork, very
– Immigration: Hispanic varieties of English in the USA  “Chicano
English” of descendants of Mexican immigrants: distinct vowel sounds
and intonation patterns
• Internal causes for change: changes leading to balance and regularity in
the language system
– E.g. The Great Vowel Shift
How do new means of communication
and technology change language?
1. Printing (1400 – 15th century) enabled new
styles, new spelling and new punctuation
systems to develop
2. The telephone (19th century) let new patters
of dialogue emerge
3. With broadcasting (1920s) new styles came
into being (sports commentaries, news
reading, weather forecasting, chat shows)
How does the Internet affect the
English language?
There have been no major changes in grammar,
vocabulary or pronunciation. Some changes are
attested in punctuation, such as the use of
emoticons. However, the English language has
become expressively richer thanks to the
development of new styles (e.g. the style used in
chat rooms, virtual world games, the world wide
web, e-mails, etc.) (Crystal,
Is it possible to integrate sociolinguistics and
the history of language?
• The analysis of language use in social contexts
applied to the history of language is difficult mainly
for methodological reasons:
Lack of any spoken evidence for the earlier stages
of the language
The difficulty of interpreting and dating changes in
earlier written texts
Phonological change
• It refers to any mutation within the sound
system of a language
• The Great Vowel Shift. Starting point: 15th
century – Middle English period – end: 17th
century - Modern English period
The Great Vowel Shift
• A chain of changes affecting long vowels named push chain
– /i:/  [ɛi]
[bi:t] > [bɛit] > [bəit] > [bʌit] (bite)
– /e:/  /i:/
[me:t] > [mi:t] (meat)
– /ɛ:/  /i:/
[mɛ:tə] > [mi:t] (meet)
In PDE meat and meet are homophones
– /a:/  /ɛ:/
[nɑ:mə] > [nɛ:m] > [ne:m] > [neɪm] (name)
– /u:/  [ɔu:]
[u:] >[ɔu:]>[əu]>[ʌu]>[ɑu:] (house)
– /o:/ /u:/
[bo:tə] > [bu:t] (boot)
– /ɔ:/ /o:/
[bɔ:nə] > [bo:n] > (18th cent) [oʊ]/[əʊ]
(bone, boat)
These changes partly explain the inconsistencies between spelling and
pronunciation in PDE!!!
The Great Vowel Shift
Morpho-syntactic changes
 Analogy: the extension of existing forms to create new forms, e.g.
through suffixes and prefixes
E.g. complete/completion –> incomplete/incompletion
 Hypercorrection: the speakers’ awareness of the social value of a
given variant and the overuse of the more prestigious form
E.g. In some AmE varieties: fellow  *fella and yellow  *yella
umbrella  * umbrellow
 Backformation: is the process of creating new forms, often by
removing affixes:
E.g. editor  to edit; lazy  to laze
Semantic change
• It indicates any mutation in the meaning of
lexical items
• It is commonly triggered by external causes,
e.g. socio-cultural change, scientific and
technological innovation and foreign language
• Two main types of semantic change: change
of meaning and change of connotation
Change of meaning
• Widening: the meaning of a lexical item is
– Dog (PDE) “any breed”  “a particular powerful breed of
– Cupboard (PDE) “a piece of furniture usually with shelves
where to store food and crockery”  “a table upon which
cups and other vessels were placed”
– To grow (PDE) “to grow in any way”  “to get bigger”
• Narrowing: the meaning of a lexical item is
narrowed down to a specific meaning:
– Meat (PDE) “edible flesh of animals”  “food”
– To starve (PDE) “to die of hunger”  “to die”
Change of connotation
• Pejoration: the meaning of a lexical item acquires
negative connotations
– Knave (PDE) “rogue, dishonest man”  cnafa (OE) “youth,
– Silly (PDE) “foolish, lacking seriousness”  sely (ME) “happy,
• Amelioration: the meaning of a lexical item
acquires positive connotations
– Queen (PDE) “a woman sovereign, the wife of the king” 
cwēn (OE) “woman, wife”
– Knight (PDE) “a warrior serving a king”  cniht (OE) “boy,
Historical Periods and Linguistic
1. The Anglo-Saxon period
1. Old English, OE (700-1150)
2. The Norman period
2. Middle English , ME (11501500)
3. Modern period
4. 20th Century
3. Modern English, ModEngl.
4. Present-day English (PDE)
(to the present)
The History of English in ten minutes
Old English
• English is a Germanic language
• The reconstructed proto-language from where
Germanic derives is Indo-European
• It is difficult to locate and date the origin of
Germanic languages exactly  lack of
relevant documentation
Old English period (700-1150)
• this term refers to Germanic dialects spoken
by Jutes, Angles and Saxons: Kentish, WestSaxon, Mercian and Northumbrian
• the West-Saxon reign was the most important
religious, military and cultural centre in
• West-Saxon was considered the first standard
written language, associated with political,
military and cultural power in society
Major historical events leading to the
OE period
Stonehenge, about 3,000-2500 BC
100 BC the first Celts appeared in Britain
55-54 BC Julius Caesar invaded Britain (
…and the Romans left it in the 5th
5th century: some Germanic tribes
(Anglo-Saxons and Jutes) arrived in
England and forced the Celts to move
west and north
Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain
The Celts
• Indo-European people who lived in Europe
from 2000 BC to 100 AD
• they inhabited the British Isles before the
Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasions
• names of Celtic origin: London, Leeds, Avon,
Thames, Kent, Cornwall
• very few Celtic words in Old English
• Celtic languages spoken today: Welsh, Irish
Gaelic, Scots Gaelic (Breton)
Stonehenge (2500 BC)
Stonehenge is a prehistoric
monument, one of the
most famous sites in the
The Roman period (55 BC – 400 AD)
• The name Britain comes from the Greek word Pretani
(PDE Britons) (Πρετανι), probably of Celtic origins. It
was mispronounced by the Romans, and was used to
name the Romance province of Britannia
• In 55-54 BC Julius Caesar invaded Britain, but the army
occupied the island only a century later in 43 AD
• Political and economic reasons for the Roman
– The Celts of Britain were protecting and hiding the Gauls against
whom the Romans were fighting
– Britain was an important food producer because of its mild climate
The Roman baths of Bath
The Roman Baths complex is a
site of historical interest in the
English city of Bath.
It is a well-preserved
Roman site for public bathing.
Clean spa water can be
drunk by visitors.
Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian's Wall was a defensive
fortification in Roman Britain.
Begun in AD 122, during the
rule of emperor Hadrian, it
was the first of two
fortifications built across Great
Angles, Saxons and Jutes (c.400 AD –
c.1150 AD)
• In the 5th century, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes arrived in
• The Romans had left the island in 409 AD following the
progressive weakening of the empire due to Germanic
attacks in European mainland.
• The Celts had to defend themselves alone. They were
gradually forced to move north and west.
• Language: Old English period: 700 – c1150 AD
• “Old English” refers to four Germanic dialects: Kentish,
West-Saxon, Mercian and Northumbrian
• What happened between the 5th and the 8th
century which led to the shaping of Old
Christianisation of
• 6th century
• introduction of the Latin
• abandonment of the Runic
alphabet by the Anglo-Saxons
• from the 9th to the 11th
centuries manuscripts were
translated from Latin into Old
• Latin and Greek gave Old
English a wide range of
Gospel words related to
religion and spirituality
Runic Alphabet (Futhark)
The Scandinavian invasion (8th century)
• The first settlers were located in the north-east of
• They expanded all through the island until King
Alfred the Great, the head of the West Saxon
region, defeated them in the 9th century (887
• English toponyms in -by are Danish in origin:
Rugby, Derby, Whitby (the Danish word by meant
‘farm’ or ‘town’).
• Simple-life words borrowed into English from
Danish: law, band, odd, rotten, rugged, die
Linguistic features of OE
Latin alphabet, with some differences from PDE
(e.g. the consonant thorn, or þorn, <þ>)
nouns, adjectives and pronouns were inflected
for case, number and gender (synthetic versus
analytic language)
two types of verbs (strong and weak) = regular
and irregular verbs in PDE
word order was free
lexis was mainly Germanic but included words
of Celtic (names of places, e.g. London) , Latin
(e.g. schol from schola) and Scandinavian
origin (e.g. landes mann = native in PDE)
Ælfric’s Colloquy (c.998)
We cildra biddaþ þe, eala lareow, þæt þu tæce us
Nos pueri rogamus te, magister, ut doceas nos [...]
Master, we young men would like you to teach us
Food for thought,
on youtube: “The Story of English” Episode 2 The
Mother Tongue
“The Story of English” Episode 1 An English-speaking
Pronunciation of Old English,

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