Article published in:Ideophones: Between Grammar and Poetry
Edited by Katherine Lahti, Rusty Barrett and Anthony K. Webster
[Pragmatics and Society 5:3] 2014
► pp. 341–354
Constraints on violating constraints
How languages reconcile the twin dicta of “Be different” and “Be recognizably language”
This paper examines the contradictory demands of using language expressively and still qualifying as language, proposing a functional explanation for the form of words in a linguistic word category. Being expressive requires expending more energy, emitting a more robust signal to convey additional information about the speaker, the perception of an event, etc. Doing so requires violating the common linguistic constraints of everyday language, yet to be recognized as language requires that one’s speech obey these same rules. How speakers satisfy these demands tells us about language in both its function and form. The resolution of this dilemma requires the use of suprasegmental rather than segmental features, e.g., a wider range of and more varied use of F0. Because prosodic features are more susceptible to manipulation, they provide the resources for expressivity. Segmental parameters cannot be so easily violated, though manipulating phonotactics remains fair game. Thus we see that there are constraints on violating constraints.
Keywords: prosody, constraints, ideophones, lexicon, African languages, expressiveness
Published online: 14 November 2014
Cited by other publications
Dingemanse, Mark, Damián E. Blasi, Gary Lupyan, Morten H. Christiansen & Padraic Monaghan
Kwon, Nahyun & Keiko Masuda
Nuckolls, Janis B., Tod D. Swanson, Diana Shelton, Alexander Rice & Sarah Hatton
Styles, Suzy J. & Lauren Gawne
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 january 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.
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