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Teaching style
Lingua Insegnamento

Informazioni aggiuntive

Course Curriculum CFU Length(h)


At the end of the 60 hour module, the student will demonstrate familiarity with the main stages of evolution of the ancient Germanic languages from Indo-european. He/she will be acquainted with the material, juridical, religious and literary culture of the Germanic peoples from their origins to the early Middle Ages. The student will also gain a core knowledge of the comparative method, of the etymological research, and of the philological and textual analysis. On these grounds, the student will be able to make comparisons among the modern Germanic languages he/she knows, and to appreciate the main phonological and lexical changes which have affected English and German, thus obscuring their common origin. The student will be taught in detail one specific Old Germanic language and its distinctive phonological features (Old English). He/she will then learn how to analyse Old English poetic and prose texts (The Battle of Maldon and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle), placing it into the context of the manuscript and literary production of medieval Iceland. Finally, he/she will be able to comment on philological issues using the appropriate specific language and technical terms.


Good knowledge of a modern Germanic language (English and/or German) is required.


The topics covered will include:
a) Introduction to the ancient Germanic languages, their phonological characteristics and main morphological traits, starting from Indo-European; the comparative method in linguistics; aspects of ancient Germanic culture: society, law, religion and mythology, runes, Christianization and the introduction of writing on parchment.
b) Old English: origins and development; phonetics and main morphological characteristics
c) The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Viking raids in England
d) The Battle of Maldon (reading in the original and analysis at various levels of the poem)
e) Old Norse influence on the English language

A Programme for students who cannot attend lessons is available: students are kindly requested to contact the teacher to discuss this option and the exam syllabus.

Teaching Methods

The module consists of lectures and in-class exercises. Starting from the beginning, students are required to approach the vocabulary of Old Germanic languages in a comparative Indoeuropean perspective, and to compare their realizations diacronically. By examining, at the beginning of the module, the phonetic features pertaining to the Old Germanic languages, it will be possible to evaluate the students basic knowledge of linguistic phenomena. Before the mid-term test, in-class exercises will help students to rehearse the main linguistic topics described so far. After the intial presentation of the Old Germanic languages, one single language will be taught in detail, with special regards to its phonological characteristics (this year, Old English). From the beginning, students will have to confront with simple prose passages in the original language, in order to prepare them to analyse excerpts from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and The Battle of Maldon.

Because of the health emergency related to Covid-19, the usual teaching methods could be changed throughout the next academic year (see the “Manifesto degli studi a.a. 2020-2021”). Updates on this issue will be promptly published in the Notices section of the teacher's website:

Verification of learning

Assessment involves a mid-term written test and a final oral exam.
The mid-term test will consist of multiple choice questions on the main phonological features examined so far: if the student does not pass the examination, the negative mark will not be taken into consideration at the oral exam; if the student passes the test with a medium/high mark, it will be taken into consideration at the oral exam.

During the oral exam, the student will be asked to:
1) demonstrate his/her knowledge of the phonological characteristics of the Old Germanic languages and of Old English in particular
2) be able to describe the main characteristics of the Germanic languages compared to Indoeuropean
3) read in the original, translate and comment on passages from The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and The Battle of Maldon

He/she will be expected to show a good command of philological and critical terminology.

Students who have not attended the course, have at their disposal a specific Programme which allow self-learning. Students are asked to contact the teacher during the office hours to receive instructions and Bibliography concerning this Programme.


N. Francovich Onesti, La Filologia germanica, Carocci, 2002 (excluding the sections: 2.4.1-2.4.4; 2.4.8-2.4.9; 2.6.1-2.6.3; 2.7.2-2.7.4, 2.8.1).
Giulia Mazzuoli Porru, Manuale di inglese antico, Pisa, Giardini Editore, 1992 (or other Old English grammar).
M.J. Swanton (ed.), An Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Liverpool, 2004.
G. Brunetti, La battaglia di Maldon: eroi e traditori nell’Inghilterra vichinga, Carocci, 2003.
V. Santoro, La ricezione moderna della Battaglia di Maldon, Aracne, 2012.

PPT presentations will be used throughout the module and then made available to students on the e-learning website.

More Information

Germanic Philology is a 12 credit module (among the characterizing disciplines) of the First Degree Course in Languages and Culture for Linguistic Mediation). It can be chosen as an optional exam in esame a scelta dello studente for students of the First Degree Course in Languages and Communication and in Languages and Cultures for mediation Linguistic-intercultural Curriculum (if not passed as exam of the Filologia e linguistica generale e applicata section).

PPT presentations will be used throughout the module and then made available to students on the e-learning website.

Questionnaire and social

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