Holger Dießel, Professor of English Linguistics at Friedrich Schiller University Jena, is the guest speaker at the online ACLC seminar on Friday 23 April 2021 from 16:15 till 17:30.
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Towards a dynamic network theory of grammar
In the usage-based approach, language is seen as a dynamic system consisting of emergent categories and flexible constraints that are in principle always changing under the continuous influence of language use. The dynamic view of language poses new challenges to linguistic theory. In particular, it calls for a reconsideration of the nature of linguistic representations. Questioning longstanding assumptions of linguistic research, this paper presents a dynamic network model of grammar in which all aspects of linguistic structure, including core concepts of syntax (e.g. concepts such as word, noun and noun phrase), are analyzed by a set of associative relations between different aspects of a speaker’s linguistic knowledge. These associations are shaped by domain-general processes of language use that can give rise to new structures and meanings in language acquisition and language change. Combining insight from linguistics and psychology, the paper proposes specific network accounts for the following phenomena: word classes, constituent structure, constructions, and grammatical categories such as voice, case and number. The talk builds on data and analyses presented in Diessel (2019; The Grammar Network. How Linguistic Structure is Shaped by Language Use) but approaches the topic from a different perspective and puts particular emphasis on cross-linguistic aspects of language structure and language learning.