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Creativity and linguistic theory : a study of the creative aspect of language


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Onsman, HJ 1982 , 'Creativity and linguistic theory : a study of the creative aspect of language', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The notion of creativity has been used by many theorists to describe that aspect of language which enables a language user to use language in a novel way or to devise new forms of language. Chomsky especially uses the "creative aspect of language use" to describe the innovative uses of language.
This study explores the notion of creativity in linguistic theory. An examination is made of its application by Chomsky, from his earliest work on.
At least two different notions are distinguishable: rule-governed creativity and rule-changing creativity. The former is shown to be a formal property of the syntactic system and creative in a mechanical sense only. The latter is an aspect of the semantic system, but is left largely unexplored by Chomsky.
An assessment is made of comments by other theorists on the notion of creativity and these are related to the Chomskian analysis. The distinction between rule-governed and rule-changing creativity is confirmed. Den Ouden (1975) is criticised in some detail as a superficial treatment of the topic. The semantic nature of creativity in language is confirmed.
The theory of metaphor is treated as an example of creativity in language. Metaphor is clearly a meaning-based language device and has traditionally been described as a creative mechanism. The range of metaphor theories is reviewed and a synthesis is attempted, based on the Mooij (1976) model, with some assistance from Ricoeur (1978).
The psycho-linguistic literature on metaphor is reviewed in the light of this model, and a working description derived, based on Ortony's (1979) concept of non-literal similarity. This description implies that there exists a capacity in language to move beyond the literal rules of syntax and semantics, as described in standard linguistic theory, and still produce a comprehensible utterance.
Therefore, the existing models of language are based on rules of syntax and semantics which are too restrictive, and there may exist a supra syntactic-semantic device which enables comprehension of syntactically or semantically anomalous utterances. This is the creative capacity of language.
The work of De Beaugrande is considered as an attempt to build this creative capacity into the formal description of language. Language is characterised as an intersystem in which various systems of rules and elements interact. This interaction produces meaning bearing texts. The rules and elements are subject to modification; only the meaning function of the text is immutable. Creativity, then, is the formal capacity for intersystem modification.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Onsman, HJ
Keywords: Creativity (Linguistics)
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 1982 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Bibliography: leaf 167-173. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1984

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