What if the revolution never happened?

A thought experiment in linguistics and identity


  • Bob Hodge Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Australia




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.

Author Biography

Bob Hodge, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney, Australia

Research Professor, Institute for Culture and Society, University of Western Sydney


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How to Cite

Hodge, B. (2014). What if the revolution never happened? A thought experiment in linguistics and identity. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 9(1), 35–58. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.v9i1.35