History of English language

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to illustrate the evolution of the English language over time, as a possible way to explain the nature and functioning of today's English, through an approach that refers to the principles of historical sociolinguistics. Such learning objective is consistent with the general learning objectives of the Study Programme as it helps graduates gain an excellent linguistic and metalinguistic competence. In particular, the introductory lessons of the course aim to recall the fundamental concepts of historical linguistics (language change, the different types of variation, development of a standard language etc), and then broadly describe the features of language change - at the phonological, morphosyntactic and lexical levels - from Old to Late Modern English, the description of the various phenomena being substantiated by evidence of language usage in various periods. Finally, attention is focused on the monographic component of the course, dealing synchronically with a topic or problem that is relevant to the diachronic evolution of English.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding: essential lines of the development of the history of the English language from its beginnings to the present time; main changes and developments in terms of spelling, phonology, morphosyntax, and lexis; nature of language change. Applying knowledge and understanding: ability to read, understand and contextualize a variety of English language documents from the Old to the Late Modern times; ability to autonomously deal with 'new' language documents; improved language competence in and increased metalinguistic awareness of the nature and usage of the English language nowadays.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
TEACHING METHODS: The lessons will be held face to face, if the sanitary situation allows it; anyway, reference will be made to the University's decisions and guidelines. Should it be advisable to change to online teaching, the information on how to attend the lessons via Microsoft Teams will be made available on the ARIEL webpage of the course: please consult ARIEL regularly.
The course will include different types of teaching methods: lectures, analysis of linguistic material, and student-teacher interaction.
SYLLABUS AND READING LIST: For the syllabus and the reading list see the relevant section of this form. The situation might determine slight changes in the way the course is held (as mentioned above).
ASSESSMENT METHODS AND CRITERIA: for the assessment methods and criteria see the relevant sections of this form.
Course syllabus
The course is entitled "Linguistic variation and the emergence of standard English" and will deal with the diachronic evolution of the language between Middle and Early Modern English.
After a short introduction to language variation and change and to a sociolinguistic approach to the history of English, the course will first discuss the linguistic features of Old and Early Middle English, and then will focus on the Late Middle and Early Modern English periods, when the wish for a standard language comes to the forefront in the English speech community.
A few representative samples of the language from the Old to the Late Modern English periods will be analysed as evidence of different stages of language evolution and the main changes at the phonological, morphosyntactic and lexical levels.
Students can take the exam for 6 or 9 credits. Students taking the exam for 9 credits will have to undertake a brief research on a specific course-related topic or text to be agreed on with Prof. Iamartino. The findings of the research (to be summarized in 3 or 4 A4 pages or a dozen powerpoint presentation slides) will be discussed during the exam.
The syllabus is the same for attending and non-attending students.
The syllabus is valid until February 2023.
Prerequisites for admission
The course, which is taught in English, the texts read during the classes, and the bibliography for the exam all imply that students should be competent in English (QCER B2+/C1 level). Also, students are expected to be knowledgeable about the basics of English linguistics and, if possible, of Germanic philology.
All the students should register for the course before the first lesson via the Unimi Easy Lessson app.
Teaching methods
The following teaching methods will be used: lectures (with ample space for discussion and interaction); a short anthology of works from different periods of the history of the English language will be read aloud, translated into modern English, and commented on from a philological and linguistic point of view.
Teaching Resources
1) Either of the following handbooks: (a) Stephan Gramley, The story of English. An introduction, Routledge, London and New York 2012; (b) David Graddol, Dick Leith & Joan Swann, English: history, diversity and change, Routledge, London and New York 1996;
2) The relevant sections of either (a) Ch. Barber, Early Modern English, André Deutsch, London 1976, rev. edn 1997, or (b) M. Goerlach, Introduction to Early Modern English, C.U.P., Cambridge 1991; (both of them available in the Anglistica library);
3) Prof. Iamartino's handouts and powerpoint presentations (also available on the course website);
4) one's lesson notes.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of an interview, which includes questions asked by the teacher, interactions between the teacher and the student, and the analysis of and comments on one or more language documents. The interview usually lasts between 15 or 20 minutes, depending on whether the student takes the exam for 6 or 9 credits, and it is carried out in either English or Italian at the student's choice.
The interview aims to verify the knowledge of the linguistic facts, phenomena and changes covered by the course; the student's ability to contextualize and comment on the linguistic documents, his/her precision in the use of terminology, and his/her ability to connect the historical perspective of language analysis with English usage nowadays.
The final mark is out of 30, and the student has the right to refuse it (in this case it will be recorded as "withdrawn").
International or Erasmus incoming students are invited to promptly contact the teacher. The examination procedures for students with disabilities and / or with DSA must be agreed with the teacher, in agreement with the proper Office.
Unita' didattica A
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
L-LIN/12 - LANGUAGE AND TRANSLATION - ENGLISH - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Educational website(s)
On Fridays, 9.00-10.30 am and 6.00-7.30 pm via Microsoft Teams; please make an appointment by email
The English Studies (Anglistica) branch of the Department (not during the Covid-19 pandemic)