In a constantly changing world, language as our primary tool of communication must allow for the effective expression of novel thoughts and experiences. This requires linguistic creativity, i.e., the creation of novel linguistic units that are used in communication just as successfully as linguistic routines.
Linguistics has made significant progress in the last 50 years in understanding the regularities and routines behind conventionalised systems of linguistic signs, their underlying cognitive processes and how to model them. Thus far, the linguistic creativity that frequently occurs in everyday conversation has not been addressed with the systematicity that it deserves. CRC1646 will undertake such a systematic investigation of linguistic creativity as a vital feature of speakers' linguistic competence.
Our starting point is creative linguistic activity in everyday communication, the resulting products, and how they can spread into a larger community. The individual projects will shed light on the properties, limits, benefits of linguistic creativity and the interplay of these different aspects including its theoretical, psycholinguistic and computational modelling. Based on this, the CRC will provide a detailed description of the phenomenon, its mechanisms and processes and develop a comprehensive theory of linguistic creativity in communication, in individuals and among the collective of language users.
Our research endeavour is guided by an analytical framework and a set of central research goals and hypotheses. In the first funding phase, the CRC will mainly focus on establishing the core properties of the phenomenon of linguistic creativity, concentrating on mapping the breadth of the phenomenon, developing a differentiated inventory of empirical measures of linguistic creativity, outlining the linguistic principles and mechanisms involved and isolating cognitive and social factors. We will sharpen our initial hypotheses for the second phase, where we aim to establish exactly which principles and mechanisms are at work in which types of creative uses and how they interact. Based on this new, refined perspective, we will deepen our understanding of creative units in conversation as well as their spread in a linguistic community. In the third funding phase, we will incorporate our findings into a larger theory of linguistic creativity that ties together the theoretical, empirical, computational and psycholinguistic perspectives, as well as the relevant general cognitive aspects, fine-tuning the theoretical aspects in light of the breadth considered. The CRC's interdisciplinary research agenda will be strengthened in the third phase by contributing our research results to neighbouring disciplines.
The projects are organized in three research Areas: