The proposed Collaborative Research Centre aims to probe into the nature of what is traditionally known as ‘the linguistic system’. Its starting-point is the insight that the tacit knowledge reified in linguistic parlance as ‘the system’ needs to be modelled in terms of a dynamic interaction of cognitive, communicative and social processes in diverse cultural and historical contexts. Unlike existing emergentist and dynamic approaches, which tend to focus on only some of these aspects, the research unit plans to do justice to the complexity of the problem by integrating cognitive, communicative, socio-pragmatic and historical aspects of language(s).
Key notions chosen to test the viability of an integrative dynamic model of linguistic systematicity are entrenchment and conventionalization. The notion of entrenchment is taken to subsume individual (neuro-)cognitive processes such as paradigmatic and syn-tagmatic associations, routinization, automization, chunking and generalization; the notion of conventionalization encompasses collective social structures and processes such as innovation, accommodation, diffusion and the establishment of norms.
17 projects, which address a wide range of relevant aspects on all linguistic levels, have been drawn up. Languages to be investigated include English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Russian and Persian, as well as Siberian, Caucasian and North American languages. Linguists and phoneticians will be joined by experimental and developmental psychologists, communication scientists, sociologists, historians, statisticians and IT-specialists. Methods to be applied range from traditional linguistic methods to computer-corpus studies, (neuro-) psychological and psycholinguistic experiments as well as sociological interviews and surveys.
Projects and structure of the initiative
Survey of disciplines
Issues to be addressed