What, If Anything, Is Linguistic Creativity?

Alexander Bergs 1
  • 1 Universität Osnabrück, Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, D-49069, Osnabrück, Germany


This paper investigates the nature of creativity in language and linguistics. Following Sampson (2016), it distinguishes between F-creativity (which roughly equals linguistic productivity) and E-creativity (which leads to new and unexpected innovations). These two notions of creativity are discussed on the basis of examples from three different domains: snow cloning, mismatch/coercion, and aberration. It is shown that pure E-creativity may only be found in the case of aberration. Both snow cloning and mismatch/coercion are examples for F-creativity, but to varying degrees. As a consequence, it is suggested that in practice, F- and E-creativity actually form a cline, rather than a dichotomy.

Falls das inline PDF nicht korrekt dargestellt ist, können Sie das PDF hier herunterladen.

  • Bauer, L. (2001). Morphological productivity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

  • Black, M. (1955). Metaphor. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, 55, 27-294.

  • Börgerding, P., Benen, M.-C., & Bergs, A. (under review). Expecting the unexpected: Predictive coding, pattern recognition and surprise in narratives.

  • Bullock, B. E., & Almeida, J.T. (Eds.). (2009). The Cambridge Handbook of Code-Switching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press.

  • Chomsky, N. (2003). The reasons of state. London: Penguin.

  • Francis, E. J., & Michaelis, L. (Eds.). (2003). Mismatch. Form-Function incongruity and the architecture of grammar. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

  • Goldberg, A. (1995). Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

  • Goldberg, A. (2006). Constructions at work. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Haspelmath, M. (1999). Why is grammaticalization irreversible? Linguistics, 37(6), 1043-1068.

  • Haspelmath, M. (2002). Understanding morphology. London: Arnold.

  • Hoffmann, Th. (2018). Creativity and construction grammar. Cognitive and psychological issues. Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 66(3), 259-276.

  • Jackendoff, R. (1997). The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

  • Keller, R. (1994). Sprachwandel. Von der unsichtbaren Hand in der Sprache. 2nd ed. Tübingen: Francke.

  • Kuperberg, G. R., Arim, Ch., Cohn, N., Paczynski, M., & Jackendoff, R. (2010). Electrophysiological correlates of complement coercion. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 22(12), 2685-2701.

  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

  • Pylkkänen, L., & McElree, B. (2007). An MEG study of silent meaning. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(11), 1905-1921.

  • Sampson, G. (2016). Two ideas of creativity. In Martin Hinton (Ed.). Evidence. Experiment and argument in linguistics and philosophy of language (pp. 15-26). Bern: Peter Lang.

  • Simonton, D. K. (2012). Creative productivity and aging. In Susan Krauss Whitbourne and Martin J. Sliwinski (eds.). The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Adulthood and Aging (pp. 477-496). Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.

  • Veale, T. (2012). Exploring the creativity myth. The computational foundations of linguistic creativity. London: Bloomsbury.

  • Ziegeler, D. (2007). A word of caution on coercion. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(5), 990-1028.


Zeitschrift + Hefte