2. Two Ideas of Creativity
Geoffrey Sampson [+]
Sussex University, Professor Emeritus
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.