What if the revolution never happened?
A thought experiment in linguistics and identity
Keywords:Identity, linguistic revolutions, thought-experiments, Chomsky, Halliday, Whorf
This article reports a thought-experiment in linguistics, and discusses implications for the scope and identity of linguistics today. It questions arguments that linguistics underwent a Kuhnian revolution around Chomsky's Syntactic Structures of 1957, and that his analysis of the sentence ‘colorless green ideas’ definitively created a split between grammar and semantics in linguistics. The thought-experiment asks: 'What if Whorf and Halliday’s work already published by 1956 were taken as paradigm-forming works that created identities in linguistics?' It argues that these works could have laid foundations for a more productive, inclusive linguistics, better able to analyse and negotiate identities.
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