1. Linguistic categories and their comparability. 2. Etymology

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There are no prerequisites. Beginners in linguistics will be individually supported according to their needs.


1. Linguistic categories and their comparability. 2. Etymology

The course will be divided into two thematic clusters, one pertaining to synchronic linguistics (linguistic categories), the other to historical linguistics (etymology). The first part will introduce the current debate in theoretical linguistics and linguistic typology on the issue of categories and their comparability across the languages of the world. Particular attention will be paid to the grammatical relations subject and object, their definition in different theoretical frameworks and the discussion of their applicability in cross-linguistic comparison. The second part will focus on etymology by addressing its problems, methods and history and exemplifying its procedures based on material from different language families.

In order to prepare for the two sections of the course, on the first front it is recommended that students read the articles forming the monographic issues of the journal Linguistic Typology20.2 (2016) (topic: Of categories: Language-particular - comparative - universal) and 24.3 (2020) (topic: Comparability). These are advanced readings, as an approximation to which it may be useful to read a classic of twentieth-century linguistics, Comrie (1981) (esp. chapters 5 Subject and 6 Case marking).

On the second front, an agile basic handbook is Baglioni (2016), while for information on the history of etymology, see Belardi (2002) and Most et al. (2023).

Obiettivi formativi

The classes aim at arousing the students’ awareness about language complexity and diversity, to be further investigated in individually-targeted seminars.

Riferimenti bibliografici

The following readings are recommended:

a) on linguistic categories and the issue of their comparability:

The monographic issues of the journal Linguistic Typology 20.2 (2016) (topic: Of categories: Language-particular – comparative – universal) and 24.3 (2020) (topic: Comparability)

Comrie, Bernard. 1981. Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. Chicago: Chicago University Press.


b) on etymology:

Baglioni, Daniele. 2016. L’etimologia. Rome: Carocci.

Belardi, Walter. 2002. L’etimologia nella storia della cultura occidentale. 2 vols. Rome: Il Calamo.

Glenn Most, Dagmar Schäfer and Michele Loporcaro. 2023. Part 2. Etymology. In Glenn Most, Dagmar Schäfer and Mårten Söderblom Saarela (eds.), Plurilingualism in Traditional Eurasian Scholarship. Thinking in Many Tongues, 91-126. Leiden: Brill.

Further literature will be suggested as the course proceeds.