Italian Language and Linguistics

The Master’s in Linguistics specialisation in Italian Language and Linguistics at Leiden University examines the Italian language from typological, historical and sociolinguistic perspectives. During the programme you will gain insights into the dialectal and regional variations of Italian, through courses that cover both theoretical and applied linguistics, and topics that include the use of Italian and Italian dialects. This specialisation is taught entirely in the Italian language, giving you the opportunity to greatly improve your command of the language.

Choose Italian Language and Linguistics at Leiden University:

  • Learn from internationally active researchers who provide enthusiastic support, interaction and supervision, ensuring you get the most from the programme.
  • Build your own curriculum based on your preferred aspects of the Italian language or linguistics with a flexible programme format.
  • Experience the practical side of research with first-hand involvement in the research of your lecturers. All lecturers operate at the highest international levels and are the recipients of important international research grants.
  • Follow courses that build on the linguistic research currently being carried out at the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), an institute with a long-standing international reputation for excellence.

Check out the programme in Italian Language and Linguistics.

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Linguistics
  • Degree Master of Arts in Linguistics
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September, February
  • Language of instruction Italian
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 60815

Prof. Roberta d'Alessandro

Roberta d'Alessandro

“Even today nobody is born as a native speaker of Standard Italian.”

“My field of specialisation as a researcher is dialectology and formal linguistics, and in Leiden I will be heading a research group focusing on Italian dialects and linguistic variation.

The Italian linguistic scenario is extremely rich. This is partly because of the central location of Italy within the Mediterranean and partly because of the late Italian linguistic unification. In fact, Italian only became the official language at a relatively late stage with respect to other European official languages. As a result, linguistic fragmentation in Italy is the most significant among European countries, and even today nobody is born as a native speaker of Standard Italian. We are all speakers of a regional variety of Italian that can show different degrees of similarity with the local dialect (which is, like all dialects, a sister language of Italian, not derived from it).

Dialects, that encode our culture and tradition, are fast disappearing, particularly under the influence of television. Note that dialects are generally not written and that the last-remaining speakers are dying because of old age. Therefore, if we don’t document these dialects immediately, they will soon disappear, and with them a piece of European culture. Observe furthermore that, as I said, these dialects are sister languages of Italian, and they derive directly from Latin. Hence, they are fully-fledged Romance languages, and constitute a vast set of additional data that offer an important testing ground for linguistic theories on Romance.

I have studied and worked in many different countries, such as Finland, Germany, Canada, the U.S.A. and England. Leiden is a very good university for a linguist because there are linguists here working on many languages and with different approaches, which I find both stimulating and enriching. The University Library also has a truly impressive collection of works.”

See also Why international students choose the MA in Linguistics at Leiden University.

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