The Mental Corpus

John R. Taylor
ISBN:
0199290806

This book presents a radical reconceptualization of the nature of linguistic knowledge. John Taylor challenges the conventional notion that a language can be understood in terms of the interaction of syntax with a lexicon, the second listing the words and the first the rules for combining them. He proposes instead that an individual's knowledge of a language can be thought of as a repository of memories of linguistic experience. Each encounter with the language, he argues, leaves a trace in our minds. We record the forms of utterances, the concepts and interpretations associated with them, and the contexts in which they were heard or seen. Features of incoming language - a word, a phrase, a meaning, a voice quality, an interactional situation - resonate with items already stored. Similarities between stored items give rise to generalizations of varying degrees of certainty and precision, which in turn are able to sanction new and innovative expressions.

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