A Difference of Some Consequence Between Conventions and Rules

Topoi 27 (1-2):87-99 (2008)
Abstract
Lewis’s view of the way conventions are passed on may have some especially interesting consequences for the study of language. I’ll start by briefly discussing agreements and disagreements that I have with Lewis’s general views on conventions and then turn to how linguistic conventions spread. I’ll compare views of main stream generative linguistics, in particular, Chomsky’s views on how syntactic forms are passed on, with the sort of view of language acquisition and language change advocated by usage-based or construction grammars, which seem to fit better with Lewis’s ideas. Then I will illustrate the interest of Lewis’s perspective on the dissemination of conventions with a variety of linguistic examples
Keywords David Lewis  Conventions  Construction grammar  Utterance-based grammar  Universal grammar  Linguistic rules
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