The creative aspect of language use and the implications for linguistic science

Biolinguistics 7:228-248 (2013)
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The creative aspect of language use provides a set of phenomena that a science of language must explain. It is the “central fact to which any signi- ficant linguistic theory must address itself” and thus “a theory of language that neglects this ‘creative’ aspect is of only marginal interest” (Chomsky 1964: 7–8). Therefore, the form and explanatory depth of linguistic science is restricted in accordance with this aspect of language. In this paper, the implications of the creative aspect of language use for a scientific theory of language will be discussed, noting the possible further implications for a science of the mind. It will be argued that a corollary of the creative aspect of language use is that a science of language can study the mechanisms that make language use possible, but that such a science cannot explain how these mechanisms enter into human action in the form of language use.
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