The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson

The Linguistics Delusion - Geoffrey Sampson

5. Economic Growth and Linguistic Theory

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).


Part of the resistance to the idea that language behaviour is creative in a sense that renders it unamenable to scientific theorizing stems from a half-conscious assumption that human beings, after all, are only complicated machines, so surely they cannot be creative in that deep sense. Denying the scientific status of linguistics can sound like romantic waffle rather than a serious intellectual position. To counter this objection, I discuss a parallel with economic theory, a discipline which has many similarities to linguistics though few linguists pay it much attention. The best established, most convincing explanation of the crucial phenomenon of economic growth depends absolutely on humans being accepted as creative in the deepest sense. Yet no-one could dismiss economic growth theory as airy-fairy romanticism. It concerns hard-nosed issues which have direct consequences for human welfare (far more so than anything in linguistics).

Notify A Colleague


Sampson, Geoffrey. 5. Economic Growth and Linguistic Theory. The Linguistics Delusion. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 71-78 Sep 2017. ISBN 9781781795781. Date accessed: 15 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.32133. Sep 2017

Dublin Core Metadata