Emergent grammar

Authored by: Paul J. Hopper

The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415551076
eBook ISBN: 9780203809068
Adobe ISBN: 9781136672927


 Download Chapter



The initial premise of emergent grammar is that linguistic structure is a process that unfolds in real time. Emergent grammar therefore moves the focus of description to exemplifying the ongoing structuration of language as events of speech communication unfold. The fundamental temporality of spoken language implies the paradox that structure itself is unstable and intrinsically incomplete, and is constantly being created and recreated in the course of each occasion of use. This view is at odds with theories that presuppose a complete, fixed and stable grammatical system as a prerequisite to understanding and being understood through spoken language, and which view language use as distinct from and secondary to an a priori grammar. In this article I will present some of the arguments in its favor and discuss examples of usage that lend themselves to explanation along emergent grammar lines. I will also discuss the thinking behind emergent grammar that brings linguistics into alignment with current ideas in other language related and social science fields.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.