The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson

The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson

2. Two Ideas of Creativity

The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson

Geoffrey Sampson [+-]
Sussex University, Professor Emeritus
Geoffrey Sampson is Professor Emeritus at Sussex University and has taught linguistics at the LSE, Lancaster and Leeds Universities. His recent books include Love Songs of Early China (2006), Electronic Business (2nd edn 2008) and Writing Systems (2nd edn 2015).


One way the discipline has gone wrong stems from using the term “creative” in a sense sharply at odds with the everyday use of the word. Linguists call language behaviour “creative” because their formal grammars provide for an infinitely numerous range of possible sentences – but, in that sense of the word, doing sums would be a “creative” activity. Normally what we mean by this term is that future products of an activity, e.g. art or literary composition, go beyond the range predictable from past products. In that sense, linguistic theories assume that language behaviour is not creative – but it is.

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Sampson, Geoffrey. 2. Two Ideas of Creativity. The Linguistics Delusion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 23-34 Sep 2017. ISBN 9781781795781. Date accessed: 22 Feb 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.32130. Sep 2017

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