Performance, postmodernity and errors

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

The dominant approach to language, with a very rough generalization, has undergone a long-term development from a basically normative and correction-oriented orientation to one that celebrates actual performance and variation. The article discusses where this leaves the issue of potential shortcomings, both from a theoretical and an educational perspective.
Classic structuralism and generative grammar both assume that the true mode of being of language is pure structure, untainted by variation and use. In a functional approach, structure comes in as a state of co-ordination in the speech community about what different expressions mean – and about how they are combined to convey complex meanings. With a function-based reconstruction of the Saussurean concept, this state of co-ordination can be called the community langue. In other words, structure presupposes usage – and the individual speaker’s competency (note the –y ending!) reflects adaptation to the community langue, including variations.
This reversal of perspective also reverses our understanding of the relationship between structure and deviation. In the heyday of structuralism, it was tempting to confuse the invariant system with the prestige variety, and conflate non-standard variation with parole/performance and class both as erroneous. Nowadays the anti-structural sentiment of present-day linguistics makes it tempting to confuse the rejection of ideal abstract structure with a rejection of any distinction between grammatical and ungrammatical utterances, or more generally between utterances which are acceptable in a given language and utterances that are not acceptable.
Based on illustration cases, including examples from a reality show (Amalies verden), the paper will consider in what different ways utterances may be classed as deviant from the perspective of function-based structure and discuss to what extent the recognition of a community langue as a source of adaptive pressure may throw light on different types of deviation, including language handicaps and learner errors.
TidsskriftActa Hafniensia Linguistica, International journal of linguistics
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)22-44
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 2013

ID: 69616896