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Lingua inglese 3

Corsi di laurea:
Lingue e culture moderne
Baicchi Annalisa
Anno accademico:
Codice corso:
Crediti formativi:
Decreto Ministeriale:
Ore di lezione:
English Semantics. The Complexity of Meaning Construction and Communication.


The course will comprise:

(1) a module on English Semantics [30 teaching hours]

(2) a seminar on TiLLiT (Theatre in Language-Language in Theatre) [15 teaching hours]

(1) Module

Basic questions and key theoretical commitments on how meaning is constructed and communicated will form the core part of the course, which aims to discuss how the notions of arbitrariness and motivation intertwine in the structuring of language, and to highlight the pervasiveness of the cognitive motivation in meaning construction. This aim will be pursued by means of a set of semantically complex phenomena, belonging to each level of the linguistic and textual organization, which will provide the workbench for a discussion of major topics in English Semantics, like verb classes and constructions, lexicalization patterns, phonaesthemes, morphopragmatic complexity, speech acts, implicatures, figurative meaning. Such topics will be surveyed along with the theoretical frameworks and the analytical tools needed for their investigation, and they will be discussed also contrastively with the Italian language.

Problem-solving activities of some authentic linguistic data will be addressed during the last class of each week, and homework assignments will be given for the first class of following week to be discussed collectively.

Classes will comprise traditional lectures, discussion of readings, and analyses of linguistic phenomena. Doing homework on time and carefully, and participating to in-class discussions and analyses will be taken into consideration when marking the final exam.

The final exam for the module consists of two parts, a written part and an oral part: the written part, which is compulsory and preliminary to the oral part, will be held in June, September, and January. Students can sit the written part only once. During the final exam, students must show to have developed a good knowledge of basic concepts in English Semantics as well as the necessary descriptive and analytical skills to discuss the phenomena presented during the course in academically appropriate manners.

Attendance to classesis compulsory (70%). Students who do non attend classes will have to study extra-readings (see Readings for non-attending students below).

(2) TiLLiT Seminar: ‘Learning English through Experiencing’

The Theatre in Language-Language in Theatre (TiLLiT) seminar will be addressed to a group of students that will be selected among those who would express their willingness to improve their knowledge of the English language through theatre texts. During the seminar, theatre texts will be analysed linguistically and interpreted textually with the final aim of enacting them. The seminar will benefit from the instruction of a professional actor, who will support the seminar by offering his experience, especially in waking the imagination and the body, including the ability of exploiting the vocal apparatus and body motion in preparation for performing the drama at the end of the academic year.


Readings for the module will include:

Chandler David 2002. Semiotics. The Basics. London: Routledge. Chapter 1 “Models of the sign“: pp. 17-44.

Dirven René & Verspoor Marjolin 1998. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Chapter 1 “The cognitive basis of language. Language and Thought”: pp. 1-22.

radden, Guenter & Dirven René 2007. Cognitive English Grammar. Amsterdan: Benjamins. Chapter 1: pp. 3-17.

Adams Valerie 2001. Complex Words in English. London: Longman. Chapter 10 “Phonoaesthemes”: pp. 121-132.

Merlini Barbaresi Lavinia 2000. “The Pragmatics of the Diminutive English -y/-ie Suffix”. In C. Schaner-Wolles, J.R. Rennison & F. Neubarth (eds.), Naturally! Linguistic studies in honour of Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler. Torino: Rosenberg & Sellier. pp. 315-326.

Fellbaum Christiane 1990. “English verbs as a semantic net”. In International Journal of Lexicography, 3 (4). pp.278-301.

Levin Beth 1993. English Verb Classes and Alternations. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (sections will be specified during the course).

Saeed John 1997 (2003). Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell. Chapter 8 “Speech Act Theory” (§§. 8.2; 8.3; 8.4): pp. 222-236, and Chapter 11 “Cognitive Semantics” (§§ 11.2; 11.3; 11.4; 11.5): pp. 345-364.

Partington Alan 1998. Patterns and Meaning. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Chapter 7 “Metaphor”: pp. 107-120.

Beaugrande Robert-Alain de & Dressler Wolfgang Ulrich 1981. Introduction to Text Linguistics. London: Longman. Chapter 1 “Basic notions”: pp. 1-13.

Further material will be handed out during the course.

To the Readings listed above, non-attending students must add the following chapters:

Dirven René & Verspoor Marjolin 1998. Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins. Chapter 4 “Putting concepts together: Syntax”: pp.79-91.

Finegan Edward 2004. Language. Its Structure and Use. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Chapter 11 “Speech Acts and Conversation”: pp. 333-344.

Grice, Herbert Paul 1989. “Logic and Conversation”. In H.P. Grice, Studies in the Way of Words. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 22-41.

Merlini Barbaresi Lavinia 1998. “Modification of Speech Acts: Aggravation and Mitigation”. In Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of Linguists. Oxford: Pergamon. Paper n° 0353.

All the Readings are available from Biblioteca Fraccaro.


1. Dictionaries:

- Collins Cobuild. English Dictionary for Advanced Learners 2003. London: Collins, plus CD-Rom

- Oxford Collocations Dictionary 2002. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

- Jones David 2004, English Pronouncing Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, plus CD-Rom

2. Grammars:

- Biber Douglas, Johansson Stig, Conrad Susan 1999. Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. London: Longman

- Quirk Randolph & Greenbaum Sidney 1990. A Student’s Grammar of English. London, Longman

3. TiLLiT Seminar

- Jones David 2004, English Pronouncing Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, plus CD-Rom

- Further practical material will be handout during the seminar.


The syllabus is divided into 4 modules:

1. Real Natural Spoken English and Grammar

2. Communication Activities and Pronunciation and Phonetics work

3. Writing (expository and opinion essay writing)

4. Listening (RP complete)

The books required for the first module are:

INNOVATIONS : Advanced, Thomson Heinle.

* COURSE BOOK, by Hugh Dellar and Darryl Hocking

* WORKBOOK with answer key, by Morgan Lewis


The overall aim of the third year syllabus is to provide ample practice in all four skills at C1 level (Common European Framework), as well as to develop appropriate language-oriented skills in the areas of phonetics and vocabulary. More specifically, the objectives of esercitazioni are:

- to develop listening skills: students will be exposed to a variety of authentic audio and video listening material, including interviews, news stories, documentaries and talk shows in order to further develop their general and detailed listening skills. In addition, exam-taking skills will be taught to prepare students who are interested in doing the CAE exam or an equivalent certification. Students will be expected to do self-study work in the language lab using the listening handout and audio and video cassettes that have been specially prepared (students can download the listening handout from the Centro Linguistico site by clicking on the “materiali didattici” link and inserting the password that will be provided at the start of the academic year).

- to develop written skills:the objective of the writing module is to develop the writing skills necessary for an expository or opinion essay. Such skills have broad applicability and will serve students in any type of writing they will need to do. The main emphasis will be on the organizational aspects of a short essay and on the effective development of their ideas in an essay. Concepts such as coherence, unity, emphasis, topic sentence and supporting ideas will be presented and illustrated by looking at sample essays; students will also be asked to write several essays during the year in order to gain practical familiarity with these notions. Some writing practice will also take place during lessons. In addition, the notions regarding the sentence level that students have studied in the first two years will be reinforced through a discussion of topics such as subordination, modification and parallelism. There will also be a treatment of specific sentence errors to avoid (for example, the comma splice, the sentence fragment, the hanging modifier, mixed constructions and figures), with particular emphasis on common mistakes by students whose mother tongue is Italian. A writing handout will be available on the Centro Linguistico site and can be downloaded in the same way as the listening handout.

- to develop speaking skills: there is a specific one-hour lesson each week dedicated to this skill. Some of the activities are role-plays, ranking and evaluation tasks, group debates on social topics, drama. A little more emphasis will be given to drama this year. Prof.ssa Baicchi will hold a seminar on drama. Speaking ‘esercitazioni’ during the fourth term will be dedicated to this visceral, intellectual and emotional experience called ‘drama’. Students will be asked to perform a sketch or very brief act from a play.

- to expand students’ vocabulary through collocation work, fixed expressions and idiomatic language.

- to consider more advanced grammar structures using the lexical approach.

Furthermore, students will be asked:

- to read one book chosen from a book list of contemporary writers, which includes works of both fiction and non-fiction. Students will be invited to discuss their book during a tutorial with the teacher between the 3rd and 4th terms. Students will be expected to discuss plot, characters and related social issues. They may also be asked to translate a short paragraph from the book. The list of books will be available on the following blog: cherylthomas.splinder.com , by the end of August.

- to watch a series of eight films during the year. These films will also be discussed during the same tutorial, as mentioned above. Students will be expected to discuss plot, characters and related social issues.

- to complete a Reading Comprehension folder which includes a selection of 14 past Cambridge Advanced Exams, in preparation for the first assessment.

- to read a selection of 15 articles taken from various sources and collected together in a Reading Folder. These articles will form one of the topics of conversation in the oral assessment test at the end of May.

Assessments (prove parziali) and the unified preliminary language test (prova globale)

The third year English preliminary exam consists of three papers.

Paper 1: Reading Comprehension + vocabulary (collocations, fixed expressions and Idiomatic language) + grammar (Assessment 1)

Students will be asked to complete the following exercises:

3 Cambridge Advanced type reading comprehensions and 40 questions on vocabulary and grammar. In the unified preliminary language test there will be an extra cloze test exercise for non-attending students.

Paper 2: Listening Comprehension (Assessment 2)

3 parts: Generally two video extracts and an audio extract (although there might be only one video extract and two audio ones). The exercises will be chosen from among the following types: multiple choice questions; true/false questions; open-ended questions; information gap. One of the exercises will specifically conform to the CAE listening format (students will be expected to be familiar with the four types of CAE listening exercises). There are a number of past listening exams available for practice in the language laboratory.

Paper 3: Writing (Assessment 3)

Students will have to write an expository or opinion essay of 250 to 300 words choosing from among several topics.

Paper 4: Oral Test (Assessment 4)

The content and procedure of this test is clearly set out on the following blog site: cherylthomas.splinder.com

Students who attend a minimum of 70% of the lessons will have the option of taking the four parts of the exam in the form of four assessments (as described above), the first to be held at the end of January 2007, the second between the 3rd and 4th terms, and the other two to be held at the end of May. Students who fail either the first or second assessment will be permitted to resit the corresponding part of the test in June. Students who fail either the third or fourth assessment cannot resit until September. However, a student may resit only one assessment. Students who have taken and failed the assessments must wait until the following September to resit the unified test. Students not attending a minimum of 70% of the lessons may take the unified test in June, September or January.

Students’ attainment on the course will be assessed with a grade for each assessment or exam paper. Students following the course will be awarded an additional fifth and sixth grade, one for the book and film discussion (tutorial) and the other to reflect their on-going performance during lessons, including oral contributions and homework.

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