Linguistics and Semantics

From SuiteU. Saved before it disappears. More pages of links were included back to the course writer’s topic on Suite101 but all of those links were 404 so I have not tried to include them.

Linguistics & Semantics
By Antonella Sartor


Have you never asked yourself what is the real meaning of ‘language’? (linguistics) Why the words change? (the semantic change) Why one word is pronounced in this way? (phonetic/phonology) What differentiate the languages of world, for example, English from Italian or English from French etc? (phonological rules) Which rules are necessary for word formation or sentence formation? (morphology and syntax) What rules govern people’s behaviour? (pragmatics and speech acts) How can we analyse a poem, a critical essay, a piece of narrative passage?(textual analysis) Which rhetorical figures are the most important? (metaphor, metonymy, connotation, denotation, simile etc)

So, this course will introduce you to the ‘magic world’ of language with its peculiar features. You can ‘take a trip’ by discovering through a series of lessons a ‘new world’ accessible to all who already know the answers to the previous questions to those who have never posed this kind of question before. All this may happen thanks to the simplicity which concerns the structure of this course itself.

The new world called ‘linguistics’ is divided into the following subfields:

‘textual analysis’.

A more deepened study will help you in the comprehension of ‘figurative language’ (metaphor, simile, connotation, denotation, etc.) and in the ‘seizing’ of the mystery of ‘semantic change’ which consequently lead you to the knowledge of the birth of a new word.

In this course, however, there would not be formal essays, and the lessons mix theory and practical advice. Each lessons is divided into eight sessions. The first session will be an overview (introduction) of lesson content. There are also schemes, examples, diagrams that will help you to better understand the topics. Exercises with keys will be included at the end of the lesson itself in order to check and help you in facing the difficulties shown by these subjects. The problems that may arise from the lessons give you the opportunity to post in the discussion area and interact with your tutor/instructor and other students.

At the end of the ‘trip’ you will be able to discover the main peculiar features which are represented by ‘linguistics’, you will be able to analyse at least a simple poem and use easily some rhetorical figures. Moreover there will be many indications that shall help you in this particular ‘travel’ (clearly in this case I am using a figurative language for instance a metaphor).

Apart from books, an internet bibliography which includes several sites where you can look at in case you want to deepen one of the topics treated during the course will be present and located at the end of each lesson.

Please note that this is an advanced level course in Linguistics, and should be taken by serious language students.

Lesson 1: Linguistics and Language

When we talk about ‘linguistics and language’ we must make a clear distinction between the two.
Introduction to Linguistics and Language

Linguistics is conceived as the study of human language and the linguist is someone who engages in his study. Concerning language people have attempt to define it in a number of ways:

-a system for representing things, actions, ideas, and states
-a system of meaning shared among people
-a set of grammatically correct utterances (words, sentences, etc)
-a set of utterances that could be understood by a linguistic community

However for the sake of accuracy here is the definition of the word ‘linguistics’ given in Webster’s dictionary: “the study of human speech in its various aspects (as the units, nature, structure and modification of language or languages or a language including esp. such factors as phonetics, phonology, morphology, accent, syntax, semantics, general or philosophical grammar and the relation between writing and speech).”

Lesson 1: Linguistics and Language
Properties of Language

When talking about language we may say that it is a system of conventionalized symbols by which we communicate. The main properties are:


‘Arbitrariness’ can be explained by taking some words as examples:

cane (Italian)
chat (French)
dog (English)

The relationship between speech sounds and meaning is regarded as arbitrary and for this reason different languages have different speech sounds to represent the same things:

English: the rice is burning!
Korean: Pap thanda
Italian: Il riso sta bruciando

Different languages convey the same message. However there are words where the pronunciation suggests the meaning. These are called ‘onomatopoeic words’.

English: cuckoo!
Spanish: cuco!
Italian: cucu!
German: kuckuck
English: buzz
English: hiss
All languages: tic tac
Italian: chichiricchì
English: cock-a-doodle-do
Russian: kukuriku

In the vocabulary of any language there is a small group of onomatopoeic words as the majority words of languages are to be seen as “arbitrary”. The relationship between the words and things is symbolic.

Dog symbolizes a certain class of quadruped
Chair symbolizes a certain type of furniture

Creativity is another important feature of all languages which allow new utterances to be created thanks to new thoughts, experiences, situations.

The little girl ate the apple
The man ate the apple
Both ate the apple
The rabbit ate the cabbage

All these examples have structural similarity. But, for instance, the following sentence “ The rull stud the thrull” does not make any sense since the words have no meaning even though the structure conforms to the rules of English. On the contrary “dog the ate bone the” does not conform to the rules of English. In other examples such as

She wintered in Mexico
He holidayed in Greece

the verbs are created from time expressions. However these two instances:

It midnighted in the festival
He nooned at Shirley’s house

are to be considered incorrect because ‘noon and midnight’ are points of time rather than periods of time.

Thus it is clear from what I have said up to now that languages are rule-governed structures. These rules reflect the systematic structure of language; they are not imposed from the outside but are observed regularity of language behaviour. In each language we have the following characteristics of grammar:

Grammar with its rules and elements
Linguistic competence which correspond to knowledge of language

Linguistic performance which deals with how people use their knowledge of language, that is,

grammar in comprehension and production

All languages have a grammar that can be more or less equal in complexity.

The components of grammar are:
Phonetics: the articulation and perception of speech sound
Phonology: the pattering of speech sound
Morphology: word-formation
Syntax: sentence formation
Semantics: the interpretation of words and sentences
Pragmatics: how to use things with words

More clarifications on the features of language

Talking about ‘human languages’ we can say that their main feature consists in the fact that unities of meaning (signs) are arbitrary and conventional. Nothing in the sound of the words in a language allow us to discover the meaning of the words. The sound, for example, of the words “chaise”, “chair”, “sedia”, do not have any physical relation with the objects described by these words.

Onomatopoeic words (Italian ‘cocodé/chicchiricchì’ used to imitate the song of the chicken or the cock) or rather the sounds that compound them are bound to the object they describe. This is difficult to understand when we become aware that for the same group of objects different onomatopoeic words will be used in different languages (cock-a-doodle-doo in English, kukuriku in Russian etc).

All this implies that signs (unities of meaning which form a message) are conventional and arbitrary form. The words of a language have been chosen by human beings to represent a given set of objects, ideas, or phenomena. Speaking the same language as someone else, then, means sharing a certain number of conventions. Languages are regarded as creative because during our lifetime we would rarely repeat the same sentence twice. This happens thanks to the composition of languages themselves which in their turn are made up of combinable and divisible particles that can be expressed by the slightest change in a statement. And an almost infinite number of sentences can be created by starting from a limited number of words and sounds.

On the other hand, the meaning of a sentence is not necessarily the addition of the meaning of each word that forms it. Moreover the same word can have more than one meaning, that is, it can be polysemic. For example the word ‘cane’ in Italian means either ‘dog’ or ‘cock’ (referring to ‘rifle gun’-rifle at half cock-). The word ‘leaf’ in English means either ‘the leaf of a tree/plant or the page in a book. The context in which the sentence has been produced is necessary to any ambiguity which would arise in avoiding such cases. Language seen as a mental faculty allowing oral communication is innate while the code allowing its realization is learned.

Lesson 1: Linguistics and Language
Other important Features of Language

These two words are distinct as they have nothing in common from the point of view of meaning : an intermediate pronunciation leads to one or other of the words. Restraint does not allow language to intensify the signifier and then to intensify the meaning correspondingly in the same way this is done by the use of shouts or interjections:

A but uttered softly implies doubt
A but uttered loudly can, instead, imply a greater conviction of doubt

Speaking of “ semantic omnipotence “ (with language we can talk about whatever we like) we intend to refer to the capacity of language to talk about everything . It allows us to carry out a list of different functions, of which the most well known are those taken into consideration by the linguist, Jakobson.

Explanations of Jakobson’s communicative functions

He stated that a common code is not sufficient for a good communicative process and for this reason it is necessary a context from which the object of communication is drawn. He allocates a communicative function to each of the components;

The Emotive Function: it focuses on the addresser’s own attitudes towards the content of the message is emphasized (examples can be seen in ‘Emphatic Speech, Interjections, etc)

The Conative Function: it is directed to the addressee (a typical example is found in the ‘vocative’)

The Referential Function: it refers to the context. The function, here, that emphasizes the communication is dealing with something contextual (it is also called ‘representative’ by Bulher)

The Phatic Function: it is necessary to establish contact and refers to the channel of communication. There are some of these utterances that are employed to maintain contact between two speakers.

The Metalinguistic Function: it concerns the code itself and is seen as the function of language about language. An example of Metalanguage is this whole reader and we use it in order to examine the code. This function, however, is predominant in questions like ‘Could you please repeat your answer?’ where the code is misunderstood and needs correction or clarification.

The Poetic Function: it is given to the messages that usually convey more than just the content and they are always to be seen as a creative ‘touch’ of our own (Examples: rhetorical figures, pitch or loudness etc)

Another essential property of language concerns the linguistic messages which can present (unlike messages in other natural codes) a high degree of structural elaboration with a vast scale of linking and functional relationships between the elements which are arranged linearly . The reciprocal placement, in a linguistic sign, of the elements which replace is never unimportant: so much so that the relationship between the elements or parts of the signs gives rise to a close multiple structure which can be perceived in the “ syntax “ of the message , and which is called “ syntactic complexity “.

The most relevant features are:

1) Order of contiguous elements:
Joseph hits Hugo
(linear positions in which they combine)

2)Structural connections and subordination which are operative between non-contiguous Elements

The dog which is barking is Hugo’s

4)The presence of parts of the message capable of providing information about the syntactic Structure:
(conjunctions , coordinates , such as : and/but ; subordinates such as : that, because etc.)

5)Possibility of irregularity in the syntactic structure.

To conclude what has been said up to now on the properties of human verbal language, we may assert that language is a typically ambiguous system; it is sufficient to note that the phenomenon of “ polysemy “ and “ homonomy “ (e.g., “leaf “ referring to both the leaf of a tree and to the leaf of a book etc.).

A system which sets not biunique but multiple (plurivoche ) similarities between the elements of a list and those of the list associated with these is ambiguous. Ambiguity must not be seen as a negative factor, but, contrary to what it might appear to be in an exclusively logical-formal key, as a valuable factor naturally connected closely with “ semantic omnipotence “ and “ productivity “. In fact, together they allow for exceptional flexibility of the linguistic tool and , thanks to this adaptability, for the expression of new contents and experiences.

The problems, however, which may derive from ambiguity are often systematically made unambiguous by the context which intervenes in the interpretation of messages. Language is a system which organizes:

‘A system of signs with a mainly phonic-acoustic meaning’, fundamentally arbitrary at all levels and doubly articulated which express every expressible experience , possessed as interiorized knowledge allowing us to produce an infinite number of sentences starting from a finite set of elements.

The essential dichotomies that must be taken into consideration are, therefore:

( e.g. a phenomenon of Etymology )
abstract system and concrete achievement (between power and action, between energeia)
virtual activity, and ergon
the carrying out process.

Other distinctions crop up, in modern linguistics , in accordance with three main dichotomies:

Opposition pairs langue/parole ( Saussure )
stem/use (Hjelmeslev )
competence/use (Chomsky)

and as opposition between “ paradigmatic axis / syntagmatic axis “ which came into fashion after Saussure, where it appeared, moreover, as an opposition between associative/syntagmatic:

Paradigmatic Axis:
The dog barks
The cat miaows
The cock crows

Syntagmatic Axis
The young

One may maintain that the paradigmatic axis concerns relationships from a point of view of the system, whilst the syntagmatic axis concerns relationships from the point of view of the structures which realize the potentialities of the system. The paradigmatic axis supplies the resevoirs from which the single liguistic units can be drawn; the syntagmatic axis ensures that the combinations of units are formed according to the restrictions suitable for any language.

*the barks dog
*the miaows cat

are sentences which are incorrectly formed – I would say they are impossible – given that they do not respect syntagmatic coherence or paradigmatic choices of the English language. This can be found in any language e.g. *il abbaia cane (Italian) ; *le boit chat (French).

Lesson 1: Linguistics and Language
Modern Linguistic Tendencies

“ European Structuralism “ headed by Saussure asserts that the ideas concerning the consideration of language as a system of signs where all is held in mutual relationship – therefore, the value of each element depends on its relationship with the other elements of the system – developed in different directions in other European schools between the thirties and the fifties.

School of Prague ( Jakobson, Trubeckoi, Mathesius etc) School of Paris (Martinet) School of Copenaghen (Hjelmeslev: Glossematic Theory is considered too abstract and mathematical) School of London (Firth)

The main evident features of these schools ( except in the case of Glossematics) is the stress on a unctional prospective (or Functionalist) which sees language as a basic instrument of communication and the structures correlated, instead, to functions. In America, despite the anthropological and typological trend which was present at the beginning of XX century in Sapir’s work, “Structuralism“ is widespread, on the contrary, in a model which is strongly descriptive and positivist called “distributionalism “ or “ Taxonimic Structuralism “ (worthy of great consideration is the scholar Bloomfield). This model aims at analysing language only on the behavioural basis which is empirically verifiable of the messages it produces apart from the functions and meanings.

Opposed to Structuralism we have Generativism with its founder Noam Chomsky who tackles the study of language from a formal perspective contrasting any other linguistic trend that priveleges empirical data inductively. He is inspired by models which are, on the one hand, mathematical and, on the other psychological, considering language as a chiefly innate faculty with its autonomous organisations which must be studied according to strictly deductive methods. The generative theory has, however, in almost 40 years, undergone to continuous change of results and a significative re-orientation which have slowly changed its order and main categories: from the “standard “ theory at the end of the years “ 60 – 70 “ to the so-called theory of “ Principles and Parameters “.

There are many other modern linguistic tendencies which are of great importance : Pike’s “ Tagmemics “, tesniere’s “ Grammar of Value (Valenza) “, Halliday’s “ Functional theories “, the Amsterdam School of Dik and the studies of Typological Linguistics.

The studies of “Typological Linguistics“ are usually based on principles more functional than formal that try to understand which are the potential mecchanisms of language and which are those already effected . What is therefore universal and what changes in the structure of language referring above all to the different ways in which the disparate languages of different linguistic families existing in the world realize the categories of the linguistic system.



Saussure emphasized a synchronic view of linguistics in contrast to the diachronic historical study) of the 19th century . The synchronic view sees the structure of language as a functioning system at a given point in time. This distinction was a breakthrough and became generally accepted. A “sign “ is the basic unit of ‘langue’ (language ) (a given language at a given time). Every ‘langue’ (language )is a complete system of signs. ‘ Parole ‘ (word ) (the speech of an individual ) is an external manifestation of ‘langue’ (language ). Another important distinction is the one between syntactic relations, which takes place in a given text, and paradigmatic relations.

School of Prague with Trubeckoj Jakobson

To these we owe ‘the phonological theory’ from which we draw the notion of ‘phoneme’ based on the concept of opposition. Jakobson apart from setting out the principle of Diachronic Phonology , set up the analysis of ‘phonemes’ in distinctive binary opposition.

School of Copenaghen with Hjelmeslev Brondal

To Hjelmeslev we owe ‘the theory of Glossematics’. He develops in a systematic way many intuitions belonging to Saussure, and his ideas have turned out to have a great influence on literature, especially concerning literary theory through the semilogical elaboration of the concept ‘sign’ and the attempt to deepen the notion of ‘form of contents’ that leads to the introduction of structural semantics.

Structuralism in U.S

Sapir: his influence is still of vital importance even nowadays. He contributes in an original way to the elaboration of ‘phoneme’ and he has also written pages worthy of consideration concerning the cultural and psychological aspects of language.

Bloomfield: we owe to him the strict elaboration of analysis in ‘immediate constituents’ which is the basis of Syntagmatic Grammar with ‘tree graphs’ which will be used by Chomsky (the founder of the so called Generative Grammar) in the context of ‘generative Grammar’.

Halliday ‘s functionalism: his semiotic theory whereby language being a pragmatic and social phenomenon must be explained in all its aspects in relation to its linguistic usage.

Lesson 1: Linguistics and Language

The study of Linguistics concerns language in general. People speak between 3000 and 6000 different languages around the world. We always think to ourselves what is that these languages have in common, and what is it that differentiates them? Each language is a very complicated system which includes thousands and thousands of different words where many difficult rules are necessary to combine these words into sentences. Children for instance learn their language relatively fast and they do not need any kind of language lessons. How it is possible that children have no trouble learning such a complicated system while, at the same time, there are still many problems in teaching a computer to understand language responding in a natural way?

Being languages are so complicated, the study of Linguistics shall be divided into several subfields. Each subfield deals with a different aspect of language.

Morphology, for example, is the study of word form. How do speakers of a language combine words to make new ones (compounds) ‘mooreland, moonlight, honeymoon, senzatetto, pellerossa, etc.’. How do we know what the tense aspect is of a verb we have never heard before?

Syntax, on the contrary, refers to the study of a sentence formation. Which step do speakers have to take to transform an indirect question into a direct question (reported speech into direct speech). What is the best way to represent the structure of a coordinate sentence?

The study of word meaning is called Semantics. There are many words which have more than one meaning called polysemic words but this does not seem to bother the listeners in understanding what the speakers say.

Pragmatics concerns the way people behave in daily life. It studies the factors that govern our choice of language in social interaction and the effects of our choice on others (David Christal).

Textual analysis (textual linguistics) deals with the communicative functions, cohesion, co-reference, etc. In writing texts we consider the structure in paragraphs, connective elements such as titles, explanations, cross references, etc. Moreover a typology of texts (from a tale to an article, from a law to a piece of crime news, from the words of a song to an advertising spot etc) is developed in order to individualize the structure, functions and the conditions of intelligibility.

Not only do we have the capacity to manipulate a great number of words and sentences but also we can adapt the usage of our language by considering the context itself. Sometimes it happens that we cannot understand a word that we read or hear. Notwithstanding this we are often able to fill the gaps thanks to the context itself.

In a given situation where it is difficult to understand the other person owing to the high volume of music or to the noise of traffic we can do necessary adaptations in order that the communication may work well. Moreover peoples who speak in the same way do not exist. It is just the existence of this kind of variations that allows us to identify our interlocutor, for instance, when we are at the telephone.

Notwithstanding these interpersonal divergences we can understand a lot of sentences we hear. At the moment there is not a complete grammar for any human language. We know how to speak but as a whole we have much difficulty in explaining what we know. Consequently it is the duty of Linguistics to ‘render’ explicit what we know about language.

Semantics studies the meaning of words and it surely deals with the creativity of language thanks to the presence of several rhetorical figures or tropes (imagery, metaphor, connotations etc). Imagery, icon, metaphor and symbol are figures of speech or artistic conventions, in which one thing stands for another in a kind of semantic relation. Image is the representation of an object or scene which conveys only itself. In common usage, the word ‘image’ refers to a physical depiction of something, as in a photographic image, or in common speech: “he is the image of his father”. The words are used with the intention of describing something. By extension, however, the image also exits in a mental representation, as in the memory or the imagination.

There is a good physical example of this in the common experience of looking at a bright light source, then closing one’s eyes and still seeing the ‘afterimage’, apparently on the backs of the eyelids. Metaphor compares two things that are alike in some way so as to clarify our understanding of one of them. The metaphor is used above all by poets because they want to make their readers seeing an aspect of something they have not noticed before. Writers of prose take use of metaphors to make a difficult idea easier to understand, by comparing something which is unfamiliar to something which is familiar; in ordinary speech people use metaphors for emphasis.

All metaphors, however, have one fact in common, that is, they do not announce they are comparing one thing to the other. They say for instance that ‘Mark is John’, and leave to the reader or the hearer to figure out in what way Mark is like John. The difference between metaphor and simile is that in metaphor the comparison is implied, while in simile it is explicit. So metaphors have a way of activating previous experiences and associations. At first glance they can seem ambiguous and paradoxical, but in practice they can explain complex concepts both quicker and more accurate than a more literal explanation. In many areas, especially where instant communication of complex messages must be achieved, metaphor have become more and more important.

Linguistics and its subfields (see for example Semantics) have a prominent place being the basis of each deepened study of words and sentences. The search of the origin of words have involved since ancient times (antiquity) many scholars who sought for not only the history but also the destiny itself of terms (nomen est omen). We need to know the forms and meanings of words but chiefly we need to “travelling in time” learning the mystery of words, the iron phonetic rules, the charm of analogies, the curiosity of apparent equalities of sounds or meaning among languages. And all this is given by Linguistics which is science, art and intuition.

Lesson 2: Phonetics and Phonology

In this lesson we will study two important subfields of Linguistics: Phonetics and Phonology.These two basic topics are concerned with speech, that is, with the ways humans produce and hear speech.
Brief Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology

Phonetics and Phonology are concerned with speech, that is, with the ways humans produce and hear speech. On the one hand Phonetics the scientific study of the sounds of human language, includes three main branches: Articulatory Phonetics, Acoustic Phonetics, Auditory Phonetics.

Articulatory Phonetics studies how speech sounds are produced by brain and mouth. Acoustic Phonetics is interested in the study of the physics of speech sound. Auditory Phonetics deals with the study of how sounds are perceived by the ear and the brain. On the other hand, Phonology deals with the systems and the patterns of sound that occur in certain types of languages.

Both disciplines must be studied together: while Phonology is the study of the abstract side of the sounds of the language, Phonetics studies the actual realizations. As we know Speech is a complex human phenomenon which involves mental and physical components so the two disciplines must be studied together for its complexity.

Lesson 2: Phonetics and Phonology
Articulatory Phonetics Consonants Vowels Syllables

Articulatory phonetics is a more widespread approach to the study of speech sounds probably because the sophisticated equipment needed to analyse speech acoustically was not available until the 1940’s. Unlike auditory and acoustic phonetics, the only “machine” necessary to study the sounds is the human machine as Articulatory phonetics studies how the human vocal tract or speech mechanism produces the sounds.

The sounds are classified by voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation. In studying articulation, the phonetician is attempting to document how we produce speech sounds. That is, articulatory phoneticians are interested in how the different structures of the vocal tract, called the articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, palate, teeth etc), interact to create the specific sounds. In order to understand how sounds are made, experimental procedures are often followed. They can measure how the tongue makes contact with the roof of the mouth in normal speech production by using a technique called Electropalatography an instrumental technique for determining tongue/palate contact during speech. The technique utilises an artificial palate with 62 silver electrodes embedded in its tongue-facing surface.

Each palate is made to fit the subject and normally requires a simple dental impression and subsequent fitting. Oral communication is based on sound waves produced by the human body. The initial moment of this rather complex process is the expelling of the air from our lungs. The lungs can therefore be considered the very place where speech production originates. The air stream follows a road that is called the vocal tract. The lungs are a pair of organs, situated inside the thoracic cavity called the chest. Variations are due to different positions of the body, to the quality, quantity and intensity (loudness) of the sounds we articulate Larynx.

The larynx (or voice box) is made mostly of cartilage and sits at the top of the trachea. The larynx provides a rigid framework within which two bands of muscle, the vocal folds (in Italian these are called ‘corde vocali’) are stretched across the top of the airway to the lungs. Tongue: The tongue plays a decisive role in forming the constrictions for many consonants and in distinguishing vowels.

The tongue is the most mobile and flexible structure in the vocal tract, and differences in vowel quality are determined largely by shapes the tongue assumes without significantly constricting the vocal tract. Pharynx: The pharynx is the open space at the back of the throat that runs from the back of the nasal cavity down to the larynx. Velum: The velum is the back part of the soft palate and is a moveable structure, when pressed up and back it closes the airway from the mouth into the nasal cavity. Epiglottis: The epiglottis is the small structure that projects backward into the airway just above the larynx and vocal folds.

A consonant, in terms of sound production, is a sound which is obstructed in some way by a tongue or lip contact as in /k/ keep or /b/ beep, as opposed to the unobstructed sound of a vowel. In terms of the sound system, the consonant is a sound that typically occurs at the beginning or the end of the syllable rather than in the middle of it, thus contrasting with vowels. The consonant sounds are classified by voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation. Voicing: As the airstream comes to or from the lungs, it passes through the opening between the glottis. If the vocal cords are open, the air passes through without obstruction and the sounds that are made in this way, are described as voiceless. If the vocal cords are closed, then the air passing through the glottis causes them to vibrate producing voiced sounds. Place of Articulation: here we have to do with the position of the tongue and the lips.

The classifications are: labials, where ‘sounds are made by using the lips’ include bi-labials where the two are pressed together (for instance with /m/, /b/) and labio-dentals where the two lips are in the top teeth touching the bottom lip (/v/, /f/); dentals where ‘the tongue touches the teeth’, include interdentals where the tip of the tongue is inserted between the upper and the lower teeth (see the example ‘teeth’); coronals, where ‘the tongue touches the roof of the mouth’ include alveolars in which the tip of the tongue touches the ridge behind the top teeth. (/d/, /s/) and palatals where the tongue presses up against the hard part of the roof of the mouth as in ‘people’; or alveopalatals in which the tongue is pressed against both the alveolar ridge and the hard palate, such as in ‘chair’; velars where the tongue is pressed against the soft part of the roof of the mouth (for example /g/, /k/); glottals in which sounds are made in the opening between the vocal cords as in ‘button’.

Another descriptor for the classification of the consonant sounds is the ‘Manner of Articulation’, or to be more precise the way the airstream is affected as it travels through the vocal tract: stops are formed the moment in which a total obstruction of the airflow exists for a brief moment, that is, the mouth is closed completely; fricatives in which the mouth is nearly closed in such a way that the air flows turbulently through the channel (/f/ /v/); affricates a stop is followed immediately by a fricative (in ‘chair’ and ‘judge’ begin with fricatives). Approximants: the mouth is fairly open and they include: liquid /r/ /l/ in which there exists some obstructions but the air flows more freely than in fricatives. The different liquids are: ‘lateral /l/)’, ‘retroflex’, ‘trill [x] o [R] found, for instance, in the Italian word rosa’, flap or tap as in the word ‘butter’; glides or semivowels with little or no obstruction but the air is present in the production of these sound which include the initial sounds of words such as you /j/ and wait; nasals are sounds that are made by forcing the air through the nasal cavity instead of the oral cavity /m/, /n/.

In terms of sound production, a vowel is a single speech sound produced by vibrating the vocal cords and not obstructing the mouth in any way, as in the /æ/ of ‘bank’, shaped by the position of the lips into rounded and unrounded sounds in English /i:/ bee and /u:/ boo. In terms of sound structure, a vowel occurs typically as the core of the syllable rather than at the beginning or the end, thus contrasting with consonant. The sound vowels cannot be described in the same way as consonants. We can talk about voicing as all vowels are voiced, but it is not possible to refer to the manner of articulation: the air flow without obstruction during the vowel production. Vowels are determined by changes in position of lips, tongue and palate, and these changes can be very difficult to detect. The vowel chart attempts to map the position of the tongue and jaw in articulating vowels. In English vowels can also glide into one another to form diphthongs and even triphthongs. Moreover, they are far more difficult to transcribe than consonants and are also an extremely important area of English, phonology as they make up the greatest difference between English varieties.

A diphthong is a type of vowel produced by moving the tongue as it is produced from one position towards another, for example in English /iə/fear and /ləv/law. It may correspond to one or two written letters. The syllable is a structural unit and within this structure we are able to identify a sequence of consonants C and vowels V. Not only in Grammar we can parse a grammatical structure but also in phonology we can parse syllabic structure.Closed syllables have at least one consonant following the vowel: the most common closed syllable is the CVC syllable. Open syllables are syllables that end in a vowel: the most common open syllable is the CV syllable. There are a large number of monosyllabic words in English: this means that they have a single vowel. Even in Italian there are some monosyllabic words. English: V: “I” /æ/; CV: “me” /mi:/; CCCV: “spray”/spræe/; CVCCCC: “sixths”/sikss/; CCCVC: “spring”/sprinŋ/. Italian: CV: “tu”/tu*/; CV: “no”/n/; CVC: “con”/kon/. In Italian there are, however, very few monosyllabic words that end with a consonant. On the other hand by examining the legal consonant+vowel sequences in English monosyllabic words we can get a good idea of what types of syllable structure are legal in English language.

Lesson 2: Phonetics and Phonology
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

International Phonetic Alphabet (or IPA) is needed to write down the sounds of languages in a consistent fashion, and its aim is to promote the scientific study of phonetics and the various practical applications of that science. In furtherance of this aim, the IPA provides the academic community worldwide with a notational standard for the phonetic representation of all languages.

It was originally developed by British and French phoneticians under the auspices of the International Phonetic Association, established in Paris in 1866. The alphabet has undergone a number of revisions during its history, including some major ones codified by the IPA Kiel Convention (1989). Most letters are taken from the Roman Alphabet or derived from it, some are taken from the Greek Alphabet, and some are apparently unrelated to any standard alphabet. The sound-values of the consonants that are equal to those in the Latin Alphabet in most cases correspond to English usage [p], [b], [t], [d], [k],[g], [m], [n], [f], [v],[s], [h],[z], [l], [w].

Concerning the vowel symbols, they are identical to those in the Latin Alphabet ([a], [e],[i], [o],[u]) and match roughly to the vowels of Italian and Spanish: [i] is like the vowel in ‘meet’ while [u] is like the vowel in ‘food’ etc. Most of the other symbols that are shared in the Latin Alphabet like [j], [r], [c] and [y] correspond to sounds those letters represent in other languages, [j] has the sound value of English ‘y’ in yoke (= German); whereas [y] has the Scandinavian or Old English value of the letter (=German y or ü, Greek Ү or French u). The general principle is to employ one symbol for one speech segment, avoiding letter combinations such as ‘sh’ and ‘th’ in English orthography. Letters that have shapes that are modified Latin letters usually correspond to a similar sound.
For example, all the ‘retroflex consonants’ have the same symbol as the equivalent alveolar consonants but with a rightward pointing hook coming out of the bottom. Diacritic marks can be combined with IPA signs to transcribe slightly modified phonetic values or secondary articulations. There are also special symbols used for suprasegmental features such as stress, tone etc.

Lesson 2: Phonetics and Phonology

To sum up we can say that ‘Phonetics’ is the physical manifestation of language in sound waves, and it is this discipline that explains how these sounds are articulated and perceived. ‘Phonology’; on the other hand, is the mental representation of sounds as part of a symbolic cognitive system, that is, it expresses how abstract sound categories are manipulated in the processing of language.

Therefore whilst “Phonetics” studies the individual sounds of speech, “Phonology” concerns the way in which the sounds interact with one another, the whole system of sounds and not only the sounds in themselves. When we know a language, we know which sounds belong to it and which sounds are foreign to it. We also know which ones affect the meaning of the words.

Anyone who knows English , for instance , knows that “sip” and “zip” and “sip” and “sit” mean two different things . Linguists are aware that if they substitute a sound in a word with another one which, in its turn , changes the meaning, the two sounds that ensue are defined “distinctive”. It’s a question of “phonemes” : units of distinctive and opposition phonological description , that is to say , the smallest phonic unit capable of producing a transformation of meaning by means of “commutation”.

In Italian , p/t/k are phonemes because they are in opposition in the “smallest pairs” (minimal pairs ) [ pane / tane / cane ] converting functionally ; e/e are functionally weak phonemes as the opposition of [ pèsca / pesca ] is held to be appreciable only in the case of a few speakers (normally from Tuscany ) . In English , too , we find “smallest pairs” (minimal pairs) words which have exactly the same number of sounds which differ only in one phoneme. Examples: cat / cup; chunk / junk; ship /chip.

The smallest pairs ( minimal pairs ) are pairs of linguistic units which are only in opposition on a pertinent tract ( pertinent tract ). Another example can be taken from French: unvoiced / voiced: port/bord. Occlusive/pertinent : peur/fleur. Contrary to a sound which can be heard and measured, a “phoneme” is an abstract entity , a class of sounds which share the same oppositions of other sounds in a language. Phonetical distinct sounds can help to realize the same “phoneme”.

Therefore, “allophones” are phonetic variants of a same phoneme divided into : combinatory variants and free variants. In English, /l/ and /p/ are in opposition, but there are cases in which /l/ alone has two main realizations: when it appears initially, for instance in ‘let’ we call it a‘light’ /l/ because it is realised pretty much as an /l/, but when it appears at the end after a back vowel, as in ‘fell’, it velarises to a ‘dark’/l/.

When we pronounce the word , we clearly don’t think what kind of /l/ we are using, however, these different realizations are the ‘allophones’.

We often ask ourselves when a ‘phone’ is an allophone of one phoneme rather than another. Three criteria are applied in answering our main question: complementary distribution, free variation and phonetic similarity. Complementary distribution is said of two phones that are only allophones of the same phoneme if they do not appear in the same context.

Explanation: the Italian nasal consonants of the words ‘inchiostro’ ‘angolo’ [ink and corner] are identified in our mind with /n/ and /ŋ/ not with the other two nasal consonants such as /m/ or /ɲ/. So we can also say that /n/ and /ŋ/ are in complementary distribution because their distribution is such that in the context where one of these segments is present, there cannot be the other (segment).

The two segments exclude each other in a certain phonetic context. In other words, the phonetic element is not predictable from the context and, for this reason, it is not distinctive. If they cannot appear in the same phonetic context, then we cannot swap them. This makes sense if we remember that mostly allophones are different from one another as a result of ‘assimilation’, yet in the same phonetic context they would assimilate in the same way and thus be the same.

Assimilation makes one sound more like a neighbour (the fact that in English the ‘morpheme’ of the plural is pronounced [s] if the sound is voiceless such as in the word cat[s], and by [z] if the sound is voiced, such as in the word do [z] , is an instance of partial progressive assimilation). If we are dealing with the Combinatory Variants, the allophone of a phoneme A is a sound A’ phonetically distinct from the canonical conversion of A which shares with A a certain number of distinctive phonetical features and occurs with respect to this in complementary distribution, never in opposition in the same context. The Nasal Labio – dental [ n ] in “inverno” is, in Italian, an “allophone” of the phoneme /n/( for the sake of graphic convenience, an “allophone” is indicated by the phonetic symbol between square brackets ).

The allophonic statute is strictly idiolinguistic as that which is an allophone of a given phoneme in a language may be a distinct phoneme in another language : [ ŋ ] is an allophone of /n/ in Italian ( this only occurs in front of a velar consonant where [ n ] does not occur ) ; this is not the case in English where /n/e/ŋ/ are in opposition, for example, /’bæn/ “band” which is in opposition to /’bæŋ/ “explosion”.

Minimal pairs are used to determine different phonemes in a language; so they are seen as words that have the same number of sounds differing only in one phoneme. Examples of minimal pairs in English and Italian: Ship /chip, Cat /cap, Pane / cane Kale / care, sane / sale, Pazzo/ pezza. Whether the speaker uses the uvular fricative or the alveolar trill , the meaning of the words does not change. This means that we have free variants of the same phoneme when two different entities meet in the same ‘environment’. In Italian, for example [ca[r]o] or [caRo] are different pronunciations of the same word. This can be caused by the defective pronunciation or by the particular habits of the speaker. In the case of the ‘short vowel’[i] and the ‘long vowel’ [i:] we have an ‘allophone’ of a single phoneme. As the short vowel [i] only occurs before voiceless consonants, and the long vowel [i:] occurs only before voiced consonants, they do not contrast.

However, the Phonological Rules which explain when and where phonemes will vary in pronunciation are made up of three main parts: a) Vowels – Consonants and their subclasses. b) The Phonetic change that will occur. c) The environment where the change takes place.

Phonologists created a kind of technical notation to define the different rules. The symbols are: C (consonants) V(vowels) L(liquid) G(glide) $ (syllable) ___$ (at the end of a syllable) $___ (at the beginning of the syllable) # word boundary #___ (at the beginning of a word or in the same word) ____# (at the end of a word).

Slashes // phonemes (i.e. /k/) and brackets [] are necessary to represent phonetic symbols. The symbol = implies “equal”, the use of the arrow → “becomes” (or is changed to).

The + and – , on the other hand , mean ‘presence or absence’ of a phonetical feature ( the voiceless, alveolar, stop /t/ would be [-voice] [+alveolar] [+stop]).

Some instances concerning English phonological rules: [-voiced +stop]→[+aspired]/$__: a voiceless stop becomes aspirated at the beginning of a syllable ( tip, biker); [-voiced +alveolar+sop]→[+glottal stop]/___[+nasal]#: a voiceless alveolar stop becomes a glottal stop when before a nasal in the same word (button); [+vowel ]→[+nasal]/___[+nasal]: a vowel becomes nasalized before a nasal sound (sun, wonder).

Phonological rules are very important as they ensure that the phonotactics of the language are respected even in ‘derived environments’.

They also place sounds in‘complementary distribution’ (that is they derive allophones from underlying phonemes): the distribution of aspirated stops is predictable because they are derived by rule from underlying voiceless stops in a specific ‘environment’. In phonology and phonetics, we call tract each feature which defines a sound either from the articulatory or the acoustic point of view.

Lesson 2: Phonetics and Phonology
Prosodic Features and Conclusions

In addition to stress, intonation, tempo and rhythm called ‘prosodic features’, we have other effects produced by the alteration of the quality of the voice, which makes it breathy or husky , thus changing the timbre. All these are seen as paralinguistic features. Stress or loudness is necessary to give emphasis, combined with other things such as changes of tone and tempo.

The aim of stress is to convey certain kinds of meaning in reference to semantics and pragmatics. It can show us ‘urgency’ or ‘anger’ or ‘command’. Intonation deals with the tone of voice. We have different levels of pitch: if we want to ask a question, we use a rising intonation, while if we wish to make a simple statement, we use a falling intonation.

Tempo, on the contrary, is the speed at which we speak and can be quick or slow. All this may depend on the situation in which we find ourselves. It can also reflect some kinds of meaning or attitude when we are giving, for instance, a real answer to a question, being perhaps so rapid as to convey distraction or rage.

Rhythm includes patterns of stress, tempo and pitch. We find formal and repetitive rhythm in music, rap, poetry , but more or less all speech has rhythm.
The accent is unique and personal, too, and the use of our sound system can be adapted to different situations.

However, we think that accents serve to mark out people by geographical region, by social class and by education. Moreover, the so – called received pronunciation (RP) is a special accent, a regionally neutral accent employed as a standard for broadcasting and some other kinds of public speaking.

The syllable however plays an important role in the prosody. What follows now is a scheme to clarify the main features of Prosody itself: “Length”: the relative duration of a number of successive syllables or the duration of a given syllable in one environment relative to the same syllable in a different environment. It can be measured by using the spectrogram. There are some confounding factors such as difficulty in determining syllable boundaries or the intrinsic length of some vowels versus others ‘tense versus lax’. “Loudness”: there are changes of loudness that occur within one syllable or the relative loudness of a number of successive syllables that are formed by variations in air pressure which comes from the lungs. It is used in English as a basic means to indicate word stress even if differences can also be obvious in length and pitch.

Factors that confound can be seen in intrinsic loudness of some vowels versus others ‘/a/ versus /i/. “Pitch”: the varying height of the pitch of the voice over one syllable or over a series of syllables which are created by changes in the rate of vocal vibration. Factors that confound can be seen in intrinsic pitch of some vowels versus others /i/ versus /o/. “Intonation”: it means melody of speech and implies rhythmic structure of language. Its unity of analysis consists in ‘tone group’, ‘foot’, ‘tonic syllable’ and the Tone Group Boundary Criteria is composed of: Presence of a pause; Major Pitch Movement; Lengthening of a word-final syllable; Register or voice quality change.

The human language is characterized by a complex system of signs. The linguistic system, with the many functions peculiar to it, represents from our earliest age an effective means of communication made up of symbols, arbitrary and conventional representations endowed with a “double articulation” system which allows man linguistic creativity. “ Double articulation “is the property by means of which languages are organized in two different structural levels.

The phonic units (without meaning),when combined, result in a unity of a superior level endowed with meaning. The level of sounds (without meaning) is called the second articulation, while the superior level (with meaning) is called the first articulaton. As the Italian linguist ‘De Mauro’ says in his book “Linguistica elementare” written in 1998, in language there is something which is considerably different from walking, breathing, feeding, and this difference derives from the existence of a very large number of languages that are highly different even among themselves. Thus, the complexity of language as a mental and psychological phenomenum is such that we cannot understand all the aspects if we only adopt one point of view.

Lesson 3: Morphology

In this lesson we talk about morphology: the study of word formation.

Morphology, for instance, deals with a) the study of word formation b) the way in which speakers of different languages combine words to make new (ones) called compounds. Examples: Bulldog; sittingbull; mooreland; moonlight; senzatetto; pellerossa.

Morphology is a term which derives from Greek [G morphologie, Fr. Morph-+ -logie morpho=form and logy= study, speech] and traditionally it has been accepted with the aim of classifying the part of grammar which deal with the word formation owing to three main factors: the segmentation of various components (root, stem, suffix, ) example: prefix stem suffix [re- arrange- d (rearranged)] derivation (obtained) through composition. Example: ‘creation’ derives from ‘create’ but we are in front of two separate words.

The change (declension, suffixation, inflection): the declension was found above all in the early Indoeuropean languages (gender, number, case) and is a presentation in some prescribed order of the inflectional focus of a noun, adjective, pronoun.

Great part of Indoeuropean languages, except German and some Slavish languages (for instance Russian) do not have any longer the casual inflection reducing the declension only to morphological variations with references to ‘number and gender’.

Italian: libr (o) (singular) versus libr (i) (plural); French ami (singular) versus ami(s) (plural); English boy (singular) versus boy(s) (plural).

Suffixation is a process by which a suffix is a morpheme that is added to a word to create another word by derivation “Felon” thus becomes a new word by adding ‘y’ felony (noun) and an adjective by adding ‘ous’ “felonious”.

The inflection is the change of form that words undergo to mark such distinctions as those of case, gender, number, tense, mood, voice, comparison, person form, suffix or element involved in such variation. Examples: shop/shops; friend/friends; the morpheme ‘s’ clearly expresses the relation between the singular and plural.

Thus Morphology studies the internal structures of words: the parts that make up words (morphemes), the way in which morphemes are combined (word formation processes) and surely the principles (laws) that regulate the processes of word formation. Therefore ‘a morpheme’ is the smallest unit in grammar it is either a word in its own right called free morpheme ‘cat’ ‘chat’ ‘gatto’ or part of a word called bound morpheme (cats chats gatti)’.

Grammatical morphemes form part of grammar , such as the plural ‘s’ ‘s’ ‘i’ in cat, chat, gatto while the morphemes that change one word into another, for example, ‘cook’ ‘cookery’ ‘cookbook’ are part of derivational process whose meaning is “the formation of a word from an earlier word or base usually by the addition of an affix usually an uninflectional as in ‘rebuild’ from ‘build’ or ‘boyish’ from boy. A functional change as in ‘picnic’ (verb) from ‘picnic’ (noun) or a back-formation as in ‘peddle’ from ‘peddler’.

Other examples are ‘trumpet+ er = trumpeter’ or ‘wind+mill= windmill’(contrasting clearly with grammatical inflection).

There are two main classes which deal with morphemes: lexical morphemes (stems, roots, lexemes) and grammatical morphemes (called bound morphemes). Examples: ‘Lexical morphemes’ Italian: amic- buon-; English friend, good, play. Grammatical morphemes Italian: i/e amic/i, amiche; English: ‘s’ in ‘friends or in plays’ Lexical morpheme. Explanation: In the word ‘boys’ we have two morphemes ‘boy’ and ‘s’‘boy’ is a lexical morpheme (with its features ‘human’ ‘male’ ‘not adult’ ‘s’ in a grammatical morpheme (its meaning is ‘plural’). Italian: ‘celermente’ there are two morphemes ‘celer’ lexical morpheme ‘mente’affix.

Sometimes ‘morphemes’and ‘words’ can coincide. In Italian ‘bar’ ‘sempre’ ‘ieri’ are words formed by only one morpheme and for this reason they are called ‘monomorphemic’.

Lesson 3: Morphology
Morphemes and Words

The morpheme is defined as the minimal unit of language which carries meaning. If we look at the word ‘dogs’ we can see two morphemes, that is, ‘dog’ and ‘s’. Other words such as ‘truthfully or unhappy’ can be divided into three morphemes ‘truth-ful-y’ and two morphemes ‘un-happy’. So ‘un’ means ‘not’, ‘happy’ describes a state of neural activity that produce a feeling of “well-being” and “contentment”. ‘Ful’ means having the quality of, while ‘truth’ implies the quality or state of being “faithful”, ‘y’ is an instance of specified action (suffix). We can say that the meaning of a morpheme always stays the same. When we look at the word ‘unbearable’ we intuitively feel that it is divided into ‘un’ ‘bear’ ‘able’.

Are we sure that this word is composed of three morphemes? And what can we do with the word ‘deambulation’? Is it right to divide it into de-am-bu-la-tion or are there any other combinations? We can split ‘cranberry’ into two morphemes ‘cran-berry’ but ‘cran’ does not occur alone as an independent term in English or as a morpheme in any other word as it does not carry any meaning of its own. Thus we must think of ‘morphemes’ as minimal meaning-carrying units because of the existence of some borderline case such as ‘cran’ in ‘cranberry’ or ‘ceive’ in ‘receive’ ‘deceive’ ‘conceive’. Instead, the word is considered as the smallest unit of grammar which can stand alone (boy (s), tree (s), cat (s): ‘boy’ is a word but ‘s’ is not a word: “Act, activate, activity, activities” are words but ‘ive, ity, ities’ are not words.

The word can also be a lexical or a functional word : a‘lexical’ word implies that the word is a ‘full word’ and it is perhaps understood when it is associated with a contentful concept. In word like ‘boy’, ‘dog’, ‘tree’ we might think of concept they express by relating to a picture or design of a typical boy, dog, or tree. If we think of verbs such as ‘to smile, to run, to read etc.’ we also need to have a contentful notion of what these activities are. The same happens with adjectives (when a person is described some adjectives must be employed: tall, heavy, kind etc.

These adjectives need to be associated with concepts which turn out to be a bit more abstract. Therefore a ‘lexical word’ is a morpheme which has a dictionary meaning, a full word, a content word (dog, cat, boy, girl, take, green etc. / cane, gatto, ragazzo, ragazza, prendere, verde etc.), while a ‘functional word’ (also called an empty word or a form word) is a word that has less of a contentful concept associated with it and is necessary to some functions in grammar (the (il), a (un), of (di), and (e)). So lexical categories consist of mostly lexical words, on the other hand, functional categories consist mostly of functional words. Verbs, nouns, adjectives (V, N, A) are the three basic lexical categories: determiners, complementations, conjunctions (D, C, C) are the three basic functional categories.

Lesson 3: Morphology
Types of Morphemes

Morphemes: they are the smallest units of language, that is, any part of a word that cannot be broken down into smaller meaningful parts including the whole world itself. Examples: items, stems. The word ‘stems’ can be divided into meaningful parts (stem/ and plural suffix ‘s’). Neither of these can be divided into smaller parts that have meaning. For this reason ‘stem’ and ‘s’ are to be seen as morphemes. Free morphemes can stand alone as independent words ‘stem’, bound morphemes cannot stand alone as independent words and they need to be attached to other morphemes.

Affixes have plural ‘s’ and are always bound while sometimes ‘root’ can be bound. Examples: ‘meaning-ful or ceive of deceive’. Content morphemes are morphemes that have relatively more specific meaning than function morphemes and fall into the classes of Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb. Functional morphemes are morphemes that have relatively less specific meaning than content morphemes; their function consists of signalling relationships between other morphemes.

They generally fall into classes such as Articles (a, the) Prepositions (of, at), Auxiliary Verbs (was smiling, have opened). Simple words consist of single morphemes and the words cannot be analysed into smaller meaningful parts (item, dog, cat); complex words consist of root morphemes plus one or more affixes (items, dogs, reading, readers). Base is an element (free or bound, root morpheme or complex word) in which additional morphemes are attached. It is also called ‘stem’. A base can also be a single ‘root’ morpheme as in the following example: tolerant in intolerant. However the base can be regarded as a word itself that has more than one morpheme.

Here, there is an instance: ‘subconsciously: sub-conscious-ly’. We have the word ‘conscious’ as a base to form another word ‘subconsciously’. Root usually is free and is a morpheme around which words can be built thanks to the addition of affixes: the root ‘clear’ can have affixes added to it so as to form ‘clearer, clearest, unclear, clearly’. Affixes are bound morphemes which are attached to a base.

They are divided into ‘prefixes’ that are attached to the front of a base, ‘suffixes’ that are attached to the end of a base and ‘infixes’ that are rarely found in English and are inserted inside of a root. Examples: prefix ‘de’ (decodify), (deambulation), (decoder); ‘un’ (untrue), (untidy); suffix ‘ly’ (manily), ‘able’ (capable), ‘ous’ (dangerous). Examples with both prefixes and subfixes are ‘unspeakable’(un-speak-able), ‘subconsciously’ (sub-conscious-ly), ‘unbelievable’ (un-believe-able).

Lesson 3: Morphology
Morphological Processes

Inflection process is the process by which affixes combine with roots with the aim of indicating basic grammatical categories, for instance, tense, plurality (dog-s, call-ed: ‘s’ indicates plurality while ‘ed’ indicates the tense of the verb and are inflectional suffixes). This process, however, is seen as the process which adds very general meaning to existing words and it is not considered as the ‘creator’ (metaphorically speaking) of new words (inflectional affixes—grammatical markers—-marking words for grammatical features).

Inflection (case, number, gender, marker) doesn’t change the part of speech class for the word. English has only eight inflectional endings. Nouns (there are only two inflectional endings ‘plural and possessive’); Adjectives (there are two inflectional endings ‘comparative ‘er and superlative est’); Verb (there are four inflectional endings ‘past tense, past participle, third person singular, progressive form’). Inflectional morphemes generally do not change basic syntactic category. Thus, we have ‘clear, clearer, clearest’.

Adjectives express grammatically required features or they indicate relation between different words in sentences. Examples: Ugo owes/ed me 10.000 euros: the ‘s’ marks the third person singular subject Ugo and the ‘ed form’ marks the past tense of the regular verb ‘to owe money’. They occur outside any derivational morphemes and then in ‘hyper-market-s’ the final ‘s’ is seen as inflectional and appears in the very end of the word, surely, outside the derivational morphemes ‘hyper-market-s’ (other examples: character/iz/ation-s, ration-al-iz-ation-s ).

Talking about Derivation Process we mean a process by which affixes combine with roots to create new words. The inflection/derivation difference is increasingly varied as shades of grey rather than absolute boundary. It is less regular and less predictable. Why do we have to add ‘al’ to the verb ‘to refuse’ to obtain ‘refusal’ and ‘ment’ to the verb ‘to judge’ obtain ‘judgment’? Derivational morphemes generally change the part of speech or the basic meaning of the word (-ment added to ‘judgement’). They are not required by syntactical relations outside the word (un-kind ‘un’ and ‘kind’ form a new word but there is any syntactical connection outside the word). We can choose Paul is ‘unkind’ or John is ‘kind’. They both are ‘kind or unkind’ therefore the choice depends on the context of situation.

They aren’t often seen as productive or regular in form and meaning because they can be selective in choosing their combination. If you look at the suffix ‘hood’ you can see that there are only few nouns (brother, neighbour, etc) which can be combined with this suffix (brotherhood, neighbourhood). They occur inside any inflectional affix.(in ‘government’ –ment is a derivational suffix that precedes ‘s’ which is an inflectional suffix).

Derivational words can have their suffixes or prefixes: ‘unspeakable’ (un-speak-able), ‘subconsciously’ (sub-conscious-ly), ‘unluckily’ (un-luck-y-ly), ‘unuseful’ (un-use-ful). Derivational morphology: derivational morphemes may change the part of speech class. (derivational affixes ‘prefixes and suffixes’). Derivational affixes are large in number: they are highly productive and recursive.

Lesson 3: Morphology
Ways of Creating New Words

Affixation: we add a derivational affix to a word see the examples: ‘Please remind me’ (‘re-mind’); ‘I did not know about this refusal’ (refusal ‘re-fus-al’).

Compounding: we join two or more words into one new word (Can you use a skateboard? ‘skate-board’).

Zero Derivational which is also known as functional shift or conversion because we employ a word of a new category as a word of another category (noun and verb: play, comb, butter).

Stress Shift: in this case we don’t add any affix to the base. The stress is very important as it shifts from one syllable to the other changing category. (N rewrite →V rewrite, N transport→ V transport, N concrete→ A concrete, N abstract→ A abstract).

Clipping: it is a shortening of polysyllabic word (prof. ‹ professor).

Acronim Formation: here with this process we can form words by using the initials of a group of words that designates one concept (NASA, NATO).

Blending: we connect parts (which are not morphes) of two already existing words to create a new word (motor hotel ‹motel, brunch ‹breakfast and lunch, telethon ‹television and marathon).

Backformation: it is a process that creates a new word by removing a real or supposed affix from another word (option—opt, peas—-pea, enthusiasm—enthuse).

Borrowing: in this case a word is taken from another language and it may be adapted to the borrowing language’s phonological system (psychology, telephone, emotion, are taken from European languages; banana is taken from African languages)

Lesson 4: Syntax

In this lesson we deal with Syntax that studies how words are combined to form phrases, clauses, etc. As we know every language has its particular ways to form correct clauses, phrases and other syntactic units. Therefore, we can define syntax as the ‘study of the structure of phrases clauses and sentences’.

In this lesson we deal with Syntax that studies how words are combined to form phrases, clauses, etc. As we know, every language has its particular ways to form correct clauses, phrases and other syntactic units. Therefore we can define syntax as the ‘study of the structure of phrases clauses and sentences. By defining Grammar we may say that it is the overall pattern of a language that clearly includes the basic subfield of linguistics such as Morphology, Syntax and certainly other features.

On the other hand, Syntax concerns the construction of phrases and clauses, for instance, the word order which is very important, the agreement between subjects and verbs etc. Here, there are some examples: ‘The little young red cat vs The red little young cat’(uncorrect) or ‘Joseph gave a rose to Edith vs Edith a rose Joseph gave’ (uncorrect). So we must remember that Word Order in English and other languages such as Italian, French, etc are important as it carries meaning. It is the competence (or linguistic knowledge) that helps us to understand which is the well-formed sentence and which is the ill-formed sentence.

Lesson 4: Syntax
Phrases and Clauses

Phrases and Clauses are divided into units and Syntax has the duty to study the hierarchical structure and the arrangements of these units. All languages have their patterns that serve to make phrases and clauses. The Noun Phrase is constituted by a Noun and Adjectives. The Adjective can follow or precede the Noun.

However some languages may prefer to have in the clause first the subject followed then by the verb (English, French, Italian). The Phrase consists of a group of words seen as an Unit. If you look at this example ‘Your beautiful red cat was running after a mouse right in the corner of your house’ we can be aware that a substitution is possible. So we can replace ‘the beautiful cat’ by using ‘it’. In this case there will be another choice between the usage of ‘he or it’ because the cat can be regarded as an human creature with a sexual distinction too (he for male she for female).

Even the form ‘in the corner of your house’ can be replaced by ‘there’. In this sentence we replace a number of words with only one. Similarly in ‘ Who was running after a mouse?’ the answer will be ‘My cat’ or ‘Where was he/it running?’ and the answer will be ‘just right the corner of my house’. Therefore it is obvious that certain groups of words possess an internal coherence as they function as a unit.

A clause is a group of words formed by a finite verb and cannot occur alone as it is only part of a sentence. In each complex sentence we have, at least, two clauses: the main clause which usually corresponds to a simple sentence and at least one subordinate or dependent clause. Examples: ‘He was eating an apple when the phone rang’. ‘She believed that the sun was a bright star’; the fact that the ‘sun is a bright star’ is well known. Subordination is a kind of embedding that occurs when one clause is made by a constituent of another clause. Example: ‘The weather here in Venece has been remarkably windy and rainy’; ‘They returned from New York last Friday’; The weather here in Venece has been remarkably windy and rainy since they returned from New York last Friday’.

Lesson 4: Syntax

The sentence is the highest-ranking unit of Grammar. It is often difficult to decide where one sentence ends and where another begins. So we should abandon neat boundaries by accepting that ‘grammar’ is a linguistic core where other aspects of linguistic organization and usage are integrated.

When we talk about a ‘sentence’ we may divide it into two categories: ‘the simple sentence which are constituted by a single independent clause and the multiple sentence which includes more than one clause, either through subordination or through coordination. Sentences can be divided into four sub-type that are a) Declarative sentences which are employed to make statement or assertions; b) Imperative sentences serve to give orders, to make requests and their subjects are not overt; c) Interrogative questions which are used to ask questions; d) Exclamatory sentences are used to express surprise, alarm, strong opinion.

Their main difference lies in the exclamation mark. Examples: a) ‘Joseph shall be there tomorrow’. ‘You must be patient with him’. b) ‘Don’t give any biscuit to Jack’. ‘Don’t touch that animal’ c) ‘Did you see your wife?’ ‘Why don’t you play tennis with your father?’ d) ‘What a silly thing you have done!’ ‘ He is going to beat you!’

Another important classification of sentences that must be done includes “Simple Sentences” (with only one finite verb), “Compound sentences” (they consist of two or more simple sentences that are linked by the co-ordinate conjunctions ‘and, either…or, neither….or, but, so etc.) and “Complex Sentences” (they have one simple sentence and one or more subordinate or dependent clause).

Examples. Yesterday I bought a beautiful car. (Simple sentence); He can neither read nor write. (Compound sentence); I have not seen them since they left Venece. Compound-complex sentences are, as their name suggests, a combination of complex sentences which are then joined by co-ordinating conjunctions. ‘I saw Joseph when he was in Rome but I did not see him since he left for Paris’. Now I can describe the basic pattern of the simple sentence: (Adjunct) (Subject) Predicate (Object) (Complement) (Adjunct) which gives: (A) (S) P (O) (C) (A) [as you see only the Predicate is essential, the Adjunct is mobile].

Lesson 4: Syntax
Deep Structure and Surface Structure

Every sentence exists on two levels: the Surface structure which corresponds to the actual spoken sentence and the Deep structure which underlies meaning of the sentence. Thus, the single deep idea can be expressed in many different Surface Structures. Examples: Boy loves Girl (deep structure). The boy kissed the girl (surface structure). The boy was kissing the girl. The girl was kissed by the boy. (surface and deep structure).

The deep structure shows the semantic components but the surface structure shows the proper phonological information in order to express that thought. Thus deep structures generate surface structures through some transformational rules. The distinction between ‘deep structure’ and ‘surface structure’ permits us to explain ambiguous sentences such as ‘I have seen eating a rabbit’ that can have two interpretations 1) I have seen someone eating a rabbit 2) I have seen a rabbit eating something.

The ambiguity is due to the fact that the same surface structure derives from two deep structures. Chomsky has proposed an additional level of rules which can help transform the deep structure into the surface structure, for instance, the manipulation of verb tenses is one of the aspect of ‘transformational rules’( present tense, past tense, subjunctive, past perfect tense, future tense derive through transformational rules).

The Transformational subcomponent accounts for the transformation of such a sentence: ‘The cat killed the bird’ → the bird was killed by the cat. The bird was killed. The killing of the bird (by the cat). The cat’s killing of the bird.

So transformational rules permit the grammarians to explain ‘deletion’ A+B+C → A+ B: The cat disappeared and the dog disappeared → The cat and the dog disappeared;

‘addition/insertion, A+B→ A+B+ C: ‘Get out!→ Get out of here!;

‘permutation’ A+B+C→ A+C+B Call Mary up→ Call up Mary;

‘Substitution’ A+B+C→A+D+C Joseph arrived at home and Mark left the house→ On Joseph’s arrival at home Mark left the house.

The aim of TG consists in pairing a given string of sounds with a given meaning through a syntactic component.

In these files you can find ‘tree examples’………

Lesson 4: Syntax
Generative Grammar (Transformational Generative Grammar)

A generative grammar is defined as one that is fully explicit, in the sense that it consists of a set of rules by which it is possible to decide whether any given sentence is grammatical or not. A sentence is seen not as a string of words but rather a ”tree” with subordinate and superordinate branches connected at nodes. ‘The cat killed the bird’, in which S is a sentence ‘the cat killed the bird’, D is a [[determiner] the], N a [[noun] cat], V a [[verb]killed], NP a [[noun phrase] the cat] and VP a [[verb phrase] killed the bird (NP: D+N)] See the file called ‘the tree in Syntax’. Noam Chomsky, the American linguist, published in 1957 ‘Syntactic Structures’ which was a statement of transformational generative grammar (TG).

Transformational generative Grammarians’ aim consists in creating an explicit model of what an ideal speaker of the language intuitively knows. This model assigns a structure to all the sentences of the language concerned. Chomsky makes a clear distinction between ‘competence or knowledge of language’ and ‘performance or the actual use of language in concrete situations’.

The ‘TG model’ also attempts to devise hypothesis on competence by idealising performance, that is to say, by removing performance accidents such as repetition, lack of attention, false starts etc. There is a big difference between Structuralism and TG as the former deals above all with text and language that has actually occurred while the latter doesn’t use the text because it is more interesting in what the text produces.

The main features of a TG model are four.

A) It must capable of generating an infinite set of sentences by operating a finite set of rules on a finite set of items Examples: ‘S→ NP+ VP (this sentence can be rewritten as a noun phrase+ verb phrase) ‘the cat killed the bird’; NP→ (det)+ N (noun phrase can be rewritten as (determiner)+ noun (the) cat); VP→ V+ NP (verb phrase can be rewritten as verb +noun ‘killed the bird’). Following this model we can produce hundreds of sentences: ‘Women love/hate /animals; Men love/hate animals; Some men love/hate animals; Women love/hate some animals; Five men love/hate animals: Here we have three nouns [men women animals], two verbs[ love and hate], two determiners [some and five]. For this reason there is a possibility to build many sentences.

B) A TG model must be explicit and self-sufficient because it tries to describe the ideal speaker-hearer’s linguistic knowledge and intuition.

C) This model must have three components: ‘a phonological component’, ‘a syntactic component’ and ‘ a semantic component’.

D) It must be able to assign a structure to all sentences accepted by a native speaker and rejected all the sentences which wouldn’t be accepted by a native speaker.

In this file you will find some schemes concerning ‘Syntax and Transformational Generative Grammar’:…

Lesson 5: Semantics

In this lesson we deal with the study of word meaning and its proprieties

In this lesson we talk about ‘Semantics’ the field that studies the meaning of words and sentences. The main goal of linguistic description concerns a reflection of a speaker’s semantic knowledge. Certain sentences describe the same situation (the newspapers are behind/next to the computer or the computer is in front/next to the newspapers), other sentences contradict each other (‘the computer is next to the newspapers’ or ‘the computer is not next to the newspapers’ or else ‘the newspapers are not next to the computer’).

By semantic knowledge we intend not what we know about ‘newspapers or computer’ but our knowledge dealing with the relations or functions expressed by items such as ‘next to, behind, not’. Semantics however goes behind an encyclopaedic set of definitions of linguistic expressions.

The context in meaning is very important because certain aspects of meaning change with the context of ‘utterance’( ‘A is young’ ‘young’ can have different meanings [it can be referred to ‘person (male or female), food, place, currency, friend’]). Meanings, in short, are held to be objective, that is to say, they are not dependent on the ways any given person happens to understand them, autonomous and disembodied.

This means that they should be considered as independent of what men/women in general do in speaking, understanding, and acting. We can added an other feature called ‘compositionality’ whose aim consists in defining inherent properties which belong to abstract objects by analysing them in terms of components, i.e. “smaller” objects more “primitive” concepts and the like.

Furthermore, it is known that words , sentences, texts, and discourses have meaning in themselves. The meaning, for instance, of a given linguistic object can be unearthed thanks to a sophisticated linguistic analysis that intends to find the correct interpretation or the semantic representation inherent to it. The interpretation of an utterance, a discourse, a text, is never completely inferable from the linguistic object alone but needs for different kinds of background knowledge.

This knowledge is extrinsic to language but usually available to senders/receivers in communication. An example can be seen in the following sentence: ‘That animal is dangerous’. If we want to seize the meaning of this sentence we must use the background knowledge. We (listeners or readers) must deal with a number of questions whose answers aren’t inherent in the semantic representation of this sentence as such. (referential specification) [what kind of animal is], in which way is it dangerous? To whom is it a threat? Where does it live? (local specification, intensional precisation, eliminations of ambiguity and vagueness).

Lesson 5: Semantics
Semantic Proprieties, the Lexicon, Semantic Relations between Words

Understanding language implies three main points that are: a) Know the words and morphemes that compose them. b) Know how meanings of words combine into phrases and sentence meanings. C) Interpret the meaning of utterances in the context in which they are made. Lexicon is the part of grammar which deals with the knowledge speakers/hearers/readers possess about individual words, morphemes, including semantic properties.

Words that share the same property belong to the same semantic class ( for example the semantic class of ‘male’ words ). Semantic classes can share the same characteristics. In the case of the word ‘male’ we may see the class of words with the features ‘male’ and ‘old’. Thus, these particular features are devices for expressing the presence or the absence of them by using the sign plus and minus.

If we look at the lexical entries for words ‘man’, ‘father’, ‘girl’, ‘boy’ we shall see these words sharing or not the same features with the following sign (+ or -): ‘man’ (+ male + or –young +human ), ‘father’ (+male +human+ or –young +parent), mother (+female +parent +human + or-young ), ‘girl’ (+human + young + female), ‘boy’ (+young + human + male). Other lexical entries where some proprieties are shared are: ‘father, uncle, bachelor→ +male + human + adult (to the word ‘father’ we may also add +parent which distinguishes this word from ‘uncle and bachelor’).

The semantic proprieties also establish relationships between the words such as ‘synonymy, antonymy, polysemy, homophony’. Synonymy is the relationship between words or expressions that have the same meaning in some or all contexts while antonymy is the relationship between words that are opposite with respect to some components of their meaning: in fact antonyms are words that share all but one semantic propriety (man ~ woman, daughter ~ son).

The perfect synonym is rare, perhaps, impossible. This can be seen in the following examples: the words ‘youth’ and ‘adolescent’ refer to people of about the same age, but only adolescent is used to imply ‘immaturity’ (he always remains an adolescent man!). Antonyms normally contrast for a particular aspect of their meaning. For example ‘men and women’ are antonyms that contrast in gender while ‘arrive and leave’ contrast in direction although these verbs specify motion.

In the case of synonyms we can have words with different sounds but with same meanings such as in ‘remember/recall, car/automobile, big/large). There are also terms that have same sounds but different meanings [light (first meaning: ‘not heavy’; second meaning: ‘illumination’= one pronunciation but different in meanings)]. Other terms called polysemic are regarded as an association of lexical items with different but related meanings [to glare(first meaning: ‘to shine intensely’; second meaning: ‘to stare angrily’)].

A large proportion of a language’s vocabulary is polysemic. It is sufficient to look in a dictionary to find more examples about ‘polysemic words’, for instance, in the Roget’s Thesaurus of English words and phrases.

Lesson 5: Semantics
Aspects of Meaning: Connotations and Denotations

Sometimes word meanings are somewhat like game trails. So we have a new word when one of the main processes will be applied commonly enough in a particular instance. This new process can originate in a real world a connotation or a denotation: the former refers to the further meanings that a certain word evokes while the latter refers to the basic, literal meaning of some word.

Therefore ‘denotation’ is the set of elements in the real world picked out by a linguistic expression ( the word ‘dog’ with all its relations); connotation, on the other hand, includes the set of associations (personal or communal) that are evoked by the use of a word (‘earth’ connotes safety, fertility, stability; ‘sea’ denotes a large body of water but connotes a sense of danger, instability etc).

When we analyse word meanings we should distinguish two separate concepts called ‘denotational and connotational meaning’. The denotational meaning gives us the basic meaning of a word on conceptual level (this is a dictionary definition). The connotational meanings can be created thanks to different factors and they turn out to be more problematic. One aspect concerning the connotational meanings is the social meaning which varies between age-groups sexes social classes and cultures. Dialect can be a good example.

Walking along the street you might listen to a conversation between two young boys or girls. ‘ Get’ut o’ere ‘andsome bloke’, ‘Get out of here handsome boy’. The dialects carry certain connotations and in these examples we can understand to what social status the speakers belong. In the first case the speaker is RP and well-educated; in the second case the speaker is low educated and he belongs to lower class.

Even affective meaning is in a close accordance with connotational meaning referring to attitudes that are reflected towards the hearer or the subject by speaker. Emotive overtones are important and can also be achieved by derivation (see the diminutive or argumentative suffixes which add an emotive effect to otherwise neutral word. This happens above all to Italian language or German language).

Moreover words can carry emotive meanings, for instance, the phonetic structure of a certain word can raise emotive effects (onomatopoeic words may strengthen the suggestive power). Connotations change and vary and can be simply classified in the same way as denotational meanings are classified in a dictionary. However they cause problems in cross cultural communication and our emotions as well as our culture will weld certain ideas and associations together with certain words. We must say that without connotational meaning communication would be quite impossible altogether.

Lesson 5: Semantics
Other Conceptual Relation: Metaphor

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term is transferred from the object it ordinarily designates to an object: it may designate only by implicit comparison or analogy’. Metaphor belongs to daily language. It is a typical linguistic phenomenon and concerns our way of thinking because it is our own thought that is metaphorical.

Conventionalized metaphors belonging to the system language are the basis to understand original and new metaphorical expressions. An example of conceptual metaphor is given by the following expression ‘time flies’ where the abstract dominium of time can be led back to a more concrete dominium of the verb ‘to fly’.

This metaphor does not refer exclusively to a single expression of a language, but we must locate it to a superior level in order to motivate a series of locutions. [‘Time → flies, persons → birds, time that flows → fly, persons’ aspiration → destination of fly, difficulties → obstacles caused by the fly]. The success of metaphor, used today mainly in advertisements and in propaganda in general, depends on the novelty of the invention, by unforeseeable discover of a relation between two terms whose meaning is completely different.

There are verbal metaphors that attribute non pertinent tracts to a name through the anthropomorphisation of inanimate objects: ‘the dish cries, time flies, the moon smiles, etc.’. Metaphor is originated by the need of exteriorizing emotional and ideal contents for which denotative language doesn’t contemplate adequate terms. Men want to create metaphors not only to express their interiority but also to go beyond certain boundaries, to look at the world from their own dimension.

The preference for the ‘concrete’, for the ‘particular’ is deeply and firmly rooted in the human mind. In a following example ‘ there is a hell of a wind’ the metaphor employed to explain the strong wind adds force ad vigour and has some relation with the thinness of detail and the concreteness of the expression.

Let’s suppose we are strangely happy and we want to express our feelings. We can say ‘I am happy’ or try to find a more accurate word capable of defining this special and particular sentiment: pleased, glad, delighted, blissful, cheerful, gay, merry etc. There are many synonyms that may replace the word ‘happy’ that have light nuances as we have already noticed by looking at a dictionary.

‘Ecstatic’ suggests a sublime ecstasy, ‘gay’ suggests, on the contrary, cheerfulness gaiety, brio, light-heartedness. Rarely we find an adjective that exactly expresses our feelings. For this reason we recur to the daily use of metaphors such as ‘I am as merry as a lark or as a cricket’, or ‘I am as pleased as Punch’, ‘I feel as a millionaire man’, ‘I am in the seventh heaven’.

So metaphors become a strong mean of communication and enrich our thought and lexicon. To be able to discern a metaphor in a piece of literature depends on one’s own ability to make a connection between two seemingly unlike objects finding their common aspects.

Lesson 5: Semantics
Other Figures of Speech

Image, icon, metaphor, and symbol are figures of speech, or artistic conventions, where one thing stands for another in a kind of semantic relation. The term ‘imagery’ is one of the most common in modern literary criticism and, of course, one of the most ambiguous.

Imagery signifies a) all the objects and qualities of a sense perception referred to in a poem or other work in literature, whether by a literal description, thanks to allusion, or in the analogues (the vehicles) used in its simile and metaphors”. b) Imagery is used to refer to visual imagery only. c) Imagery is used to refer figurative language in general especially the vehicles of metaphors and similes” (Abrams, H. M ‘A Glossary of Literary Terms IVth edition. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Wiston, 1981, page 78).

We can talk about ‘image’ as a representation of an object or scene which convey only itself. The word ‘image’ in the daily usage refers to a physical depiction of something such as in a photographic image or in common speech. The image exists also in a mental representation ,by extension, as in the memory or in the imagination.

Thus, it is a rhetorical decoration in writing and speaking , a vivid description presenting or suggesting images of sensible objects. An example can be found in the common experience of looking at a bright light source and then closing one’s eyes and still seeing the ‘afterimage’. There are several kinds of Imagery: verbal imagery can be applied to the senses; visual imagery is necessary to evoke a picture of something (a beautiful picture that represents a landscape); auditory imagery suggests a sound; tactile imagery is usually applied to the sense of touch (a soft caress); olfactory imagery belongs to the sense of smell.

Imagery is an essential convention of art in general and of literature but we shouldn’t confuse it with other tropes such as ‘metaphor, simile, symbolism’. Its aim is to give description an immediate power to grip the imagination. Allegory appears when a progression of events or images suggests a translation of them into a conceptual language. Conceit is an extended metaphor and sometimes involves unsurprising comparisons.

Metonymy is a substituting naming: an associated idea names the item ( Homer is hard for ‘Reading Homer’s poems is difficult’). Simile is a figure in which similarity between two objects is directly expressed (Your face is like a moon: we use like/as). All these rhetorical figures are very important to grasp the real meaning of words, phrases, sentences and finally texts and so they are introduced in the field of textual linguistics or textual analysis.

Lesson 6: Pragmatics

This lesson deals with Pragmatics, the study of ‘how to do things with words’or the study of the meaning of language in context.

In this lesson we deal with Pragmatics the study of “how to do things with words” (the name of a well known book by the philosopher J.L. Austin), or the study of the meaning of language in context. Crystal considers it to be part of the wider field of discourse analysis. Pragmatics is “the study of the contribution of context to meaning”.

Pragmatics starts from the observation that people use language to accomplish many kinds of acts, known as speech acts (as distinct from physical acts like drinking wine or mental acts like thinking about drinking wine). The aim of Speech acts is asking, for instance, for a glass of wine, making promises, issuing warnings or threats, giving orders, making requests for information, and many others.

There are three basic types of speech acts. A) Locutionary: saying a sentence with a specific meaning. B) Illocutionary: the intent that the speaker has while saying the sentence. C) Perlocutionary: the result achieved by the sentence. Locutionary acts, however, are those with explicit meaning ‘My cat is an Exotic Shorthair’ where I only intend to give information about my cat’s race (it includes statements, descriptions, assertions).

Illocutionary acts have different varieties according to Searly. Representatives represent a state of affairs: statements, descriptions, assertions. Directives intend to give the listener orders, requests, instructions. Commissives normally intend to commit the speaker to some future action: promises, threats, offers. Expressives express an attitude of the speaker: thanks, apologizes, welcomes.

Grice takes pragmatics farther than the study of speech acts. Discourse analysis examines coherence in speech and writing. When we are conversing with our friends, coherence is essential in order to be understood by our friends. Therefore subconsciously we follow certain Maxims of Conversation or simply conversational rules.

The maxims are four and conversationalists are enjoined to respect.
1. The maxim of quality. Speakers’ contributions ought to be true.
2. The maxim of quantity. Speakers’ contributions should be as informative as required; not saying either too little or too much.
3. The maxim of relevance. Contributions should relate to the purposes of the exchange.
4. The maxim of manner. Contributions should be “perspicuous — in particular, they should be orderly and brief, avoiding obscurity and ambiguity” (Crystal, p. 117).

Lesson 6: Pragmatics
Deixis (First Part)

According to Levinson ‘deixis concerns the ways in which languages encode.. features of the context of the utterance… and thus also concerns ways in which the interpretation of utterances depends on the analysis of the context of utterance’. Deixis is an important field of language study in its own right –and very important for the learners of the second language.

It is often and best described as a ‘verbal pointing’, that is to say pointing by means of language. Deictic expressions includes such lexemes as: ‘personal or possessive pronouns (I, you, mine, yours)’, ‘demonstrative pronouns (this/that)’, ‘spatial/temporal adverbs (here/there/now)’, ‘other pro-forms (so/do)’. Deixis refers to world outside a text.

References to the context surrounding utterance is often referred to as primary deixis, exophoric deixis or simply deixis alone. Primary deixis is used to point a situation outside a text (situational deixis) or to the speaker’s and hearer’s (shared) knowledge of the word (knowledge deixis). Contextual use of deictic expressions is known as secondary deixis, textual deixis or endophoric deixis.

Such expressions can refer either backwards or forwards to other elements in the text: anaphoric deixis is backward pointing, and is the norm in english texts. Examples include demonstrative pronouns: ‘such, said, similar, (the) same’. Cataphoric deixis is forward pointing. Examples include: ‘the following, certain, some (the speaker raised some objections…), this (let me say this…), these, several.

Deictic expressions fall into three categories: personal deixis (you, us), spatial deixis (here, there) and temporal deixis (now and then). Deixis is clearly tied to the speaker’s context, the most basic distinction between ‘near the speaker ( proximal) and ‘away from the speaker’ (distal).

Proximal deictic expressions include ‘this, here and now’. Distal deictic expressions include ‘that, there and then). Proximal expressions are generally interpreted in relation to the speaker’s location or deictic sentence. For example ‘now is taken to mean some point or period in time that matches the time of the speaker’s utterances’.

When we read ‘ Now Barabbas was a thief’ (John verse 18.40) we do not take the statement to mean the same as ‘Barabbas was now a thief’ (i.e. He had become a thief, having not being so before). Rather we read it as S. John’s writing, ‘I am telling you now, that Barabbas was (not now but at the time in the past when this event happened) a thief.

Lesson 6: Pragmatics
Deixis and Speech Act in Skakespearian Drama (Second Part)

The “ prefiguration “ of the addressee in theatrical communication is more concrete and more precise than that which is formed in the mind of the writer of literary works. It is provided with audiences which are not only historically and culturally well-defined but also empirically present at the enunciative act of messages. In the theatre , the model of communication comes close to the features of the model of natural communication. Thus, the addresser as actor, producer and technicist, and the addressee as audience present in the theatre are physically facing one another.

For this reason, the relationship of alterity is much more lively and operative than in literature. The speech of drama is constantly highlighted by the fact that it can be performed, and above all by its potential capacity for gesticulation which narrative language does not normally possess as its context is described instead of being pragmatically shown. Deixis makes it possible to exchange information by working on the sensorial-motory level rather than on the symbolic one.

The language of drama needs the presence of the actor’s body to complete its meanings. Therefore, dramatic dialectics is built upon pronominal drama ( personal deixis ) between “I“ the speaker and “you“ the listener. The deictic reference presupposes the existence of a speaker who refers to himself, as in the example taken from Hamlet ( Act III, scene ii ^ 110 – 130 ) “ I,/ I’m ( Hamlet ), a listener whom he addresses as “ you/ Ophelia “, an animate or inanimate object which is physically present : here, attention is focused on the Prince’s mother as well as on his father who has recently died. The use of “ that’s “ ( line 116 ) refers to “ fair thought “ which will only be understood if the single listener / the audience / the reader knows the whole play well.

It lies in the deictics because it does not specify the object in itself but indicates ostensively the contextual elements already created. Dramatic modality ( a dialogue between Hamlet and Ophelia ), in fact, is less ambiguous as soon as it is properly contextualized. It is regarded as incomplete until the contextual necessary elements are duly supplied, that is to say, the speaker, the addressee, time, space.

Thus, not only the indicators explicitly deictic towards the participants and their situations (the speaker, the addressee ), but also the references such as “ that’s fair thought to lie between maids’ legs “ (116), “within’s two hours“ (124), “your lap “ (110), acquire specific values only if related to the corresponding objects.

The linguistic event is in itself very important because it is the main form of interaction in drama. The exchange of dialogue not only refers deictically to the dramatic action but it directly creates it, and the mechanism of the action of the “piéce“ is carried on above all by the intersubjective power of speech. The theory of speech acts, one of the most important acquisitions of the philosophy of language and of contemporary linguistics, deals with linguistic phenomena as elements of a form of behaviour controlled by rules (being less interested in their formal aspects), (Searle, John R., Speech Acts : An Essay in the Philosophy of Language , 1969, , page 36).

Its aim consists in including linguistic events in the ambit of a theory of action. It is Searles’s taxinonimy which is, perhaps, the most useful as far as dramatic analysis is concerned. The actor, when playing the part of Hamlet, really engages in a duel with Laertes or the actor playing the part of Laertes. The actor, in fact, utters the basic proposition by “articulating” or by “reciting” the lines in an intelligible way. He does not have any illocutory intentions when he enounces them; for instance, the request as a request belongs only to the dramatic context which is defined according to the interpersonal relations which are manifested in the context itself. The responsibility of the proposition as a speech act is ascribed to the dramatic speaker as well as to the scenic one. The actors, unlike the fictitious characters they usually play, do not command, ask and assert by using sentences which are imperative, interrogative and declaratory respectively. They, unlike the characters they play, cannot be accused of saying untrue things or giving senseless orders.

It is up to the audience to interpret what is “physically” said on stage as a linguistic event of a superior order in the world of drama. Therefore, for this to happen, it is necessary to link a set of intentions on the part of the speaker and a semiotic competence(which guarantees comprehension) on the part of the listener.

This is one of the essential aspects of the role belonging to the spectator in the construction of the world of drama. The participants in the events of speech engage in a form of interaction, that is to say, not only do they share a common language and, more or less, common logical and epistemological principles, but also the achievement of a coherent and effective linguistic exchange.

Lesson 6: Pragmatics
Dramatic Speech and Everyday Speech

In its “pragmatic” articulation of interaction connected with the context, dramatic speech comes close to social verbal exchange and follows certain constitutive and regulating rules of extra-dramatic conversation. Drama presents what is , in fact, a “pure“ model of social exchange, and the dialogue only vaguely reflects what really happens in “everyday linguistic exchanges.

If we analyse two passages, one from Hamlet (theatrical text), and the other from a real live conversation between friends in a café (everyday speech), we may note differences as to the “syntactic order“, “informative intensity“, “illocutive purity“. The dialogue of drama (Hamlet, Act III, scene I) is made up of syntactically complete, self-sufficient utterances; the everyday dialogue (at the café), on the other hand, is less clearly subdivided: the sentences are formed in an incomplete and slightly disjointed way with false starts, repetitions (you, you’re right; get on with you ; hey ;etc. ).

This is so because the language of drama , in order to be understood , has to follow certain requisites pertaining to “intelligibility“ and , so to speak , to its “performability”, essential features of drama. The actor, in fact, cannot use frequent “non sequitur“ : hints, digressions, false starts, fragments of sentences, as people in everyday life do, because the listeners, or rather the audience, might get wrong ideas about the actor himself, that is, they might think that the latter had not learnt his lines properly.

The social function of conversation today prevails over the descriptive or informative function: what is said is often less important than the fact of saying something, so that the semantic information contained in social exchanges is frequently poor, especially in the case where those people who are talking have already established a relationship. In drama, the role of language as a bearer of information is usually constant: everything which is said has its own meaning while maintaining the functions of the “world creating“.

Therefore, those signs which, in everyday conversation, are needed to make contact and to ensure that conversation is successful (for example, in everyday speech, Ok, but—you’re right, if you—but, hey, etc.) are far fewer in drama. Furthermore, dramatic dialogue is illocutively purer than real life exchanges: in drama, the illocutive progress of speech is essential for the development of the action.

This is especially true on an acts-macrolinguistics level which , in drama, forms more coherent and better structured global units than any other extra- dramatic version: each illocution generates the next one in a dynamic chain. It is precisely this interpersonal and social executory power of language, the pragmatic “doing things with words“, which prevails in drama.

Dramatic speech is a network of conflictual and complementary illocutions and perlocutions: in a word, linguistic interaction is not so much descriptive as performatory: Whatever the general stylistic, poetic and “aesthetic“ functions, dialogue is firstly a form of praxis which sets the various ethical, personal and social forces of the world of drama against one another.

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics

In this lesson we will talk about Textual Linguistics or textual analysis and we will also analyse literary texts.
Textual Linguistics

Early text linguists concentrated on the development of various paradigms for the study of how sentences interconnect. They have drawn attention to the various linguistic devices that can be used to ensure that a text “hangs together” the concept of textual cohesion.

Such devices include the use of articles, lexical repetition and personal pronouns to refer back to entities the use of linking words to establish a particular logical relationship of, say, contrast, concession or addition between two or more sentences in a text. Other types text linguistic themes include: developing a typology of text types such as written text types.

The most commonly known classification is that typological variation can be reduced to 5 functional types: argumentative texts, narrative texts, descriptive texts, expository texts and instructive texts. In some versions of this theory, the 5 types tend to be viewed as textualisation-strategies.

It is not uncommon for a single text to incorporate parts which fall under different functional headings (for instance, a novel may consist of descriptive, narrative and argumentative episodes; a newspaper editorial is likely to contain narrative and argumentative parts). From libraries and bookshops to advertisement posters, from newspapers text is everywhere. We can study the structure of the text in terms of the flow of elements which follow a temporary sequence (narrative analysis), or in terms of the logic/persuasive structure of assertions in order to convince an audience about a claimed truth (argumentation and rhetoric analysis).

If we intend text as a communication of a message, we can systematically analyse its content (content analysis) or the interaction of different actors involved (discourse analysis). Finally, we can refer to the vast cultural/social context of meanings from which text emerges (semiotics analysis). Narrative analysis deals with how tellers interpret real events into narrative: what is the focus of the analysis is how narrators structure perceptual experience, organise their memory, rebuild events of life assigning, reordering and reshaping meanings.

What is interesting is the way in which various elements, protagonists, times of the story are ordered and systematised. All this furnishes precious information about the subjective perspective of the narrator, about the context on which meanings are grounded, about values that narrator wants to emphasise and those he/she wants to conceal.

What includes narrative? Personal experiences, novels, poems as well. A problem arises when we try to define possible different types of narrative. We, however, often pose this question ‘what is text analysis?’ and the answer will be: ‘it is a technique designed to analyse text and draw conclusions as to the linguistics and stylistic structures of a given text.’ Next question will be: ‘What is a text?’

Text is to be considered as any piece of written or spoken language designed to be understood. The importance of text analysis at any early stage lies in the extent to which text can be analysed and categorized in terms of reader expectancy.

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Texts and the Typology of texts

Texts are produced in isolation. We have at our disposal a choice of ‘registers’ or ‘varieties’ of language and each choice is made on the basis of the specific situation in which we found ourselves. Units of communication do not concide with units of grammar and they have different standards of acceptability. A text is not just a list of sentences.

The sentences interwine with each other to create a coherent and cohesive whole. This is done through semantic and grammatical choices. Different text types focus on the receiver’s attention on different aspects of the communicative situation and are related to different mental activities.

Texts can be classified into five types. A) argumentative texts can be analysed in terms of 1) type of judgement and indication of writer’s attitude (personal comment, objective through scientific argumentation). 2) the argumentative procedure (inductive, deductive dialectic).

B) Descriptive texts can be analysed in terms of 1) Object. 2) Features 3) Focus. 4) Point of view).

C) Expository texts can be analysed in terms of 1) their basic procedure (analytic/synthetic). 2) Additional procedures (general to particular, cause and effect).

D) Instructive texts can be analysed in terms of 1) Their point of view. 2) the sequence of events.

Most real texts do not correspond to a single text type. A newspaper report, for example, may have narrative base, but it often includes descriptive, expositive and argumentative features. A text has always a functional organization. The global function determines and explains its general organization.

The main goal function may be supported by various secondary goals in a hierarchy. What are literary texts? It is not easy to answer: a number of criteria have been suggested as a basis for the distinction of literary texts from non literary ones. Literary text should have no practical aim and no reference to real world.

In literary texts we can find images, the play of sounds, particular syntactical structures and the lexical connections. The definition of what is meant by ‘literary’ cannot rely on one simple features, lexical features, figures of speech. Among the phonological aspect, in poetry, for example, there is the rhyme, the internal rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia, assonance, consonance poetic licences such as shortening and lengthening.

Among the grammatical features there are archaic forms, syntactical variations, misclassification, personification, syntactic repetition. Among the lexical features, there is verbal repetition, immediate parallelism semantic repetition intermittent repetition, complexity, formality, specificity, use of idioms or specialized vocabulary of words belonging to the same lexical field. Among the figures of speech there is oxymoron, pleonasm, periphrasis, synecdoche, metaphors, similes, symbol and allegory.

We need certain strategies to understand the widest of the author’s communicative and expressive intentions. There are two basic reading strategies: extensive reading and intensive reading. Extensive reading is a rapid reading as we don’t take in details. Intensive reading leads to a complete understanding of the text and comprehension is not limited to a literal understanding of the simple sentences.

The basic strategy of the extensive reading are both scanning and skimming strategy in order to understand the text. The basic strategy of the intensive reading is to collect a lot of information (data-text-context-appreciation and response).

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Analysis of an extract taken from Ivanohe by Scott.

The text may be divided into two paragraphs. First paragraph: (1-9) song. Second paragraph (10-22).

In paragraph one, the narrator starts his story describing England trough a series of stereotyped references in order to arouse curiosity and stimulated the reader’s memory tied to legends and history; at the same time he exploits a friendly and immediate approach, as if he had to tell a fairy tale. This paragraph contains static sequences together with the connection between the great past narrator is going to tell about and the present (the time of narration) emphasized by the repetition of the time expression ‘in ancient times’ (1.2) in contrast with the adverb ‘still’(1.4). the first paragraph ends with a sentence anticipating the adventurous contents of the book “….outlaws whose deed …song” 2(1.9) and creating expectations in the reader who will immediately think of Robin Hood’s band and his way of living and fighting courageously. The whole paragraph marks no physical action, but provides the reader with the essential elements to appreciate this new kind of novel, halfway between history and fancy.

The second paragraph changes both in tone and contents, the narrator’s scientific approach to the period he is going to speak about prevails and allows the reader to know the real conditions that ‘merry England’ had been actually experiencing for so long time. In particular the narrator divides english people into two categories ‘despairing subjects’ (1.13) and ‘the nobles’ (1.14) and by doing so he enhances the social gap between english population and its rulers. In fact while the former are waiting for their king’s return, the latter are becoming more and more powerful “fortifying their castles” (1.18), increasing the number of their dependents, (1.19) “reducing all around to a state of vassalage” (1.20) “and striving .. to place themselves each at head of such forces” (1.21). In other words preparing themselves to play a leading role in the future, “to make a figure in… impending (1.22).

Here, there is the link concerning the extract ‘Merry England’ by Scott…

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Stylistic Devices

The story is told in the third person and the descriptive features of the first paragraph can be inferred by the reader from: the detailed information characterizing “merry England”, “watered, extended, covering, lie,…flourished” (1.8), the choice of adjectives portraying this landscape “large, beautiful, pleasant… (1.14), the repetitions of the adverbs ‘here’ in order to identify this place as the right setting of the story.

The second paragraph dwells on the description of some historical events which are expressed in a simple but specific register: ‘captivity (1.14)’, ‘subordinate oppression (1.14)’, ‘ancient licence (1.17)’, ‘English Council of State (1.18)’, ‘vassalage (1.20). All these terms mirror the feudal period in which the novel is set and conveying the idea of ‘national convulsions which appeared to be impending’ (1.22) in the reader’s mind. An appropriate language and a clear syntax characterize this extract that could be not only read, but also listened to, as it has the appealing and musical rhythm of fairy tales and legends.

Scott invented a new literary genre where the past was described through chivalrous and fantastic adventures and set in a romantic atmosphere. Here the protagonists, the so-called average heroes, are imaginary characters who embody the vitality of the past. His innovations can be identified as follow: the combination of tradition and romance, the connection between history and imagination, the capture of the spirit of the past.

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Text analysis from “A Cup of Tea” by K.Mansfield

From a scanning of the passage, the protagonist of the passage is she: Rosemary Fell. A clear example of an upper middleclass lady living an extraordinary pleasant life among smart people, beautiful flowers and antique and precious objects.

In fact the reader can infer a lot of information about her and her world from the following details: 1) From her charming personality “ brilliant and extremely modern (1-3)”. 2) From her elegant clothes “well-dressed” (1-4). 3) From her up-to-date education “amazingly well-read in the newest of the new books” (5-6). 4) From her interesting acquaintances “important people and…artists-quaint creatures, but others quite presentable and amusing” (6-7). 5) From her beloved people “She had a duck of a boy. No, not Peter- Michael” (8-9). And her husband absolutely adored her” (1.9). 6) From her high social condition “if Rosemary wanted to shop she would go to Paris” (12) “if she wanted to buy flowers, that car pulled up to the perfect shop in Regent Street “(13-14).

As a result the general content of the passage unveils an apparently too perfect and happy existence of the protagonist, far from all the real travels of human life. As to the literary genre, the passage through the evident sense of humour the narrator exploits towards Rosemary and her golden cage, probably anticipates a surprising and unexpected conclusion, frequently adopted in short stories.

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Text Division

The text may be divided into three paragraphs: Paragraph 1: (1-11) grandparents. Paragraph 2: clothes (12-22). Paragraph 3:( 23-28).

Paragraph 1 opens with a clear effective statement “Rosemary Fell was not exactly beautiful (1.1) which introduces the protagonist in an usual way, and enhancing a defect not a quality and in this case a physical quality. Moreover, the third person narrator dwells on this aspect and ironically interacts with the implied reader “no, you couldn’t have called her beautiful. Pretty! Well…peaces” (1-3), considering Rosemary the mere object of this analysis. On line 3 the narrator starts a detailed description’s of Rosemary’s characteristics and mainly her opportunities to live in a sort of paradise where she naturally moved playing the role of the perfect lady. In fact the narrator satirizes her social condition “they were rich, really rich not just comfortably well of…grandparents” (9-11), almost revealing a sort of envy. The sequences are mainly descriptive and static.

In paragraph 2 the narrator establishes a strong interaction with the implied reader. “But as you and I would go to Bond Street” (12-13) stressing on the social difference between Rosemary and other common people and enhancing her proud way of addressing to shopkeepers and shop assistants “ in her dazzled, rather exotic way..”. “I want those…” (15-16). “yes I’ll have all the roses in the jar” (16-17) “No, lilac I hate lilac”, (18). In this paragraph the reader is able to understand Rosemary’s well- determined personality through her way of choosing flowers and giving immediate orders. “Give me those stumpy little tulips. These red and white ones” (20-21). The shopkeeper and the shop assistant behaved respectfully, confirming her sense of superiority. “The attendant bowed and put the lilac out of sight, as though these only too true…” ( 18-19). “And she was followed to the car by a thin shop girl.. clothes…” (21-22).

Paragraph 3 opens with time and place references. “One winter afternoon” (23) she had been buying in a little antique shop in Curzon Street” (24), which probably represent the starting point of the story itself and the narrator, to increase the reader’s curiosity dwells on the antique dealer’s respectful but grotesque manner of welcoming her. “and the man was ridiculously fond of serving her. He beamed whenever she came in. He clasped his hands, he was so… scarcely speak” (25-27). In the last two paragraphs the sequences are narrative and consequently dynamic.

Lesson 7: Textual Linguistics
Stylistic devices. Cultural References. Connections and Historical References.

The text presents the author’s perception of the theme of irony dealt with: a) the description of the character and the situation is carried out through a rich and amusing vocabulary; b) a lot of attention to the exact choice of adverbs. The narrator’s ironically effect is based on the contrast between what is been said and what is actually meant and involves the reader who is deeply influence by her point of view.

The syntax is clear and simple, the brief utterances are essential for the general comprehension of the passage and the written is quite appealing. The main strategy is the continuous interaction between the narrator and the reader, seen as a couple of close friends, ready to mock Rosemary. Among those writers who adopt these strategies there was K. Mansfield who was interested in characters rather than plot. She focused on meaningful moments of consciousness of her characters and analysed their inner personalities.

Katherine Mansfield can be compared to Joyce and Woolf whose literary approach she clearly adopted and to nowadays female writers of short stories such as Rosemary Timperly, Irish Murdoch… In the first part of the XX century Modernism was associated with those authors who focussed their attention on the psychological development of human mind and who invented new techniques such as interior monologue and stream of consciousness.

Here there is the link dealing with the extract ‘A Cup of Tea’ by K. Mansfield.…

Lesson 8: Poetry

In this lesson we talk about ‘poetry’ and how to appreciate it
Poetry: Poetical Aspects

Poetry is a particular kind of literature written in verse and characterized by a use of a language far from everyday speech. Poetry is the most intense and concentrated language.

The first elements to be taken into consideration for a correct reading of a poem are the following: a) Diction= The poet’s choice of words gives the poem its character and tone. b) Meaning= It is the result coming through the associations as well the literal meaning of the words. c) Double meaning= They are the ambiguities giving poetry richness and complexity. d) Visual Imagery= It creates pictures in the mind, but imagery can appeal to all five senses.

As an initial analysis we can ask students to give personal responses about the elements previously mentioned which they will verify later after following detailed steps. Some questions: What about the character of the poem, considering the choice of words? Elevated, lofty, colloquial, serious lighthearted? Try to find out different meanings referring to the same words and explain the poet’s intention about the great concentration of significance in a few words.

‘Verse’ is the way poetry sounds to our ears and we can call it musical characteristic. ‘Run on line’ happens when there is no punctuation at the end of a line and the sense is carried on without break in the next line. ‘Caesura’ happens when there is a definite pause somewhere in the middle of the line. Sound devices always add considerably to the musical effect of the poem, when it is read aloud.

The three structural devices adopted in poetry are the following: ‘contrast’ which is the most common device consisting of two opposite pictures, frequently adopted in fiction too. ‘illustration’ happens when the poet adopts a vivid picture in order to make an idea or a feeling more meaningful. ‘repetition’ happens when the poet wants to stress on a particular idea.

Sense devices, that are similes, metaphors, symbols or allegories have in poetry the same function as in fiction but their identification is sometimes more difficult because poetry has a concise language and a rather difficult general syntactic structure. Therefore, students should appreciate the poet’s inventiveness through a correct analysis of all these devices, after verifying general meaning, detailed meaning and sound devices.

Lesson 8: Poetry
Types of Poetry

Every written message can be classified according to its characteristics. So poetry too can be divided into five general type: descriptive, reflective, narrative, the lyric and the sonnet.

Descriptive: the aim is to offer a detailed description of people, things, or personal experiences.

Reflective: the aim is to offer personal comment and to suggest conclusions that are sometimes openly stated, but frequently implied.

Narrative: the aim is to tell a story, the most famous example of narrative poetry is the ballad ‘the oldest form of poetry’. Its main characteristics are: the subject is frequently dramatic, the arrangement consists of a series of four line stanzas, the language is the combination between dialogues and mere narration, the style is characterized by a rather complicated plot, described in detail, by the presence of the repetitions in order to emphasize, to convey climax merely to help the memorize better, producing a musical effect, by a series of simple devices.

The lyric: the aim is to express the poet’s mood or feelings in a short poem.

The sonnet: it is a poem of fourteen lines following a strict rhyme pattern. It consists of two parts: the octave (the first eight lines) and the sestet (the last six lines), these two parts are different according to the contents: the first is a general statement, while the second is its illustration.

There are three kinds of sonnet: the petrarchan sonnet (it is the most rigid type of sonnet ABBAABBBACDECDE); the Shakespearean sonnet (it is simpler in its rhyme pattern ABABCDCDEFEFGG). The most famous exponent was Shakespeare: it is similar to the petrarchan sonnet, but there is no break in though between its parts. The most famous exponent was Milton.

Lesson 8: Poetry
General Questions aiming at a Complete Appreciation of a Poem

a)General and detailing meaning: 1) what are the contents of the poem? 2) what are the contents of each stanza? 3) who is speaking? 4) who is it addressed to?

b)Verse: 1) what about the lay-out? 2) what about the metre and the rhyme scheme? 3) can you identify sounds effects? 4) is there any contrast or illustration or repetition in this poem?

c) Language: 1) are there similes, metaphors or other figures of speech? 2) is the language simple or complicated?

d) Types of poetry: 1) is it narrative, descriptive, reflective, lyric or sonnet? 2) what’s the aim of this poem? 3) what kind of emotions does this type of poem convey?

Lesson 8: Poetry
Analysis of a Poem

Choose a poem and try to analyse it applying some stylistic devices treated in the last two lessons.

Leave a comment