1887

Constructing Languages

Norms, myths and emotions

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Abstract

As language historians we believe that the subject of our study is neither natural languages nor idiolects which speakers have always been able to develop individually (loosely what Chomsky calls L-i), but rather the social constructions of reference shared by all speakers (basically what Chomsky terms as L-e ). In this context the language historian essentially studies how a public L-e is built such that it can be understood as the language of all (i.e. hiding L-i variations) and also how L-e succeed in replacing the primary reality of idiolects, even if only in the imagination.

Writing represents a crucial turning point in language construction, because it made it possible to materialize the abstraction that, until then, related speakers could only guess and besides it comes into competition with individual languages.

In modern centuries, the provision of grammars, dictionaries and other such learning tools and systematizing instruments strengthens the idea that, because of their normative character, languages can be learned through study. Mythical stories encourage the achievement of prescriptive rules and lead speakers to link emotions to their language. Therefore, the topics of reflection that we want to discuss in this volume are: Norms, Myths and Emotions related to language construction.

Subjects: History of linguistics; Historical linguistics; Sociolinguistics and Dialectology; Language policy

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References

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