The course introduces students to the sciences of language especially from a diachronic (or historical) perspective, that is, paying attention to the change of languages.
Languages, in fact, constantly change, as we can observe in our daily experience as speakers: just think of the new words ("neologisms") that are often introduced in Italian, e.g. in the form of borrowings from other languages. In other cases, linguistic change is more difficult to observe for speakers, and its consequences are seen only after generations. In this way it can happen, for example, that one language, Latin, is the father of the medieval Romance languages from which many modern European languages have been derived (Italian, French, Spanish, Sardinian ...).
During the course, questions like these will be asked: Why do languages change over time? How do they change? Are there any general trends observed in linguistic change? How can languages be classified from a genealogical point of view?
In the first part of the course students will be provided with basic notions of general linguistics. In the second part of the course, students will approach the methods used today in historical linguistics.