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By Stephen Spector

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Title: Language Usage and Language Structure
Edited By: Kasper Boye
Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen
Series Title: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs [TiLSM] 213

During most of the 20th century, the classical Saussurean distinction
between language usage and language structure remained untranscendable in
much linguistic theory. The dominant view, propagated in particular by
generative grammar, was that there are structural facts and usage facts,
and that in principle the former are independent of, and can be described
in complete isolation from, the latter.

With the appearance of functional-cognitive approaches on the scene, this
view has been challenged. The view of structure as usage-based has had two
consequences that make time ripe for a focused study of the interaction
between usage and structure. Within the generative camp it has inspired a
more explicit and precise description of the status of usage. Within the
functional-cognitive camp it has blurred the status of structure. Perhaps
because functionalists and cognitivists have had to position themselves in
relation to generative grammar, some have emphasized the role of usage
facts to the extent that structure is largely ignored.

Accounts of language usage, language acquisition and language change are
impossible without an assumption about what it is that is being used,
acquired, or subjected to change. And more moderate functionalists and
cognitive functionalists recognize both structural facts and usage facts as
genuine facts central to the understanding of language. Still, the
linguistic literature that shares this position does not abound with
explicit, precise characterizations of the relationship between usage and

The present volume brings together scholars from different theoretical
positions to address theoretical and methodological aspects of the relation
between language usage and structure. The contributors differ with respect
to how they conceive of this relation and, more basically, with respect to
how they conceive of linguistic structure. What they have in common,
however, is that they recognize structure and usage as non-reducible
linguistic phenomena and take seriously the challenge to describe the
relation between them.

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
Generative Linguistics
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Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9783110219180
Pages: 354
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95
Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9783110219173
Pages: 354
Prices: Europe EURO 99.95