The nature of speaker creativity in linguistic innovation

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Deliberate speaker creativity, generally understood as the use of items with fuller lexical meanings in order to be expressive, plays a prominent role in many usage-based approaches to language change. However, the lack of consensus regarding its nature created confusions among researchers. This study defines speaker creativity as the speaker’s deliberate attempt to achieve social success with the addressee in communication. By examining the nature of speaker creativity and changes that it triggers, I argue that speaker creativity forms a continuum, some usage exhibiting a higher degree of creativity than others. The focus on the speaker/addressee as well as recognizing speaker creativity as non-dichotomous allow one to analyze various changes consistently under the same category without losing the fine difference.


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