The Creative Aspect of Language Use and the Implications for Linguistic Science

Eran Asoulin


The creative aspect of language use provides a set of phenomena that a science of language must explain. It is the “central fact to which any significant linguistic theory must address itself” and thus “a theory of language that neglects this ‘creative’ aspect is of only marginal interest” (Chomsky 1964: 7–8). Therefore, the form and explanatory depth of linguistic science is restricted in accordance with this aspect of language. In this paper, the implications of the creative aspect of language use for a scientific theory of language will be discussed, noting the possible further implications for a science of the mind. It will be argued that a corollary of the creative aspect of language use is that a science of language can study the mechanisms that make language use possible, but that such a science cannot explain how these mechanisms enter into human action in the form of language use.


creative aspect of language use; externalism; (Chomskyan) internalism; linguistic science; science of the mind

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