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Centrum för kognitiv semiotik (CCS)

Humanistiska och teologiska fakulteterna | Lunds universitet

Norms of language: What kinds and where from? Insights from phenomenology

Johan Blomberg & Jordan Zlatev

After decades dominated by a focus on the “individual speaker” and “individual mind/brain” in both generative and cognitive linguistics, recent years have reinstated an older view on language as primarily social, i.e. as taking place between people more than “within” them. Within such a social conception of language, it is natural to reconsider the notion of language norm, but there seem to have been few efforts in this direction. Two eminent exceptions have been Eugenio Coseriu and Esa Itkonen, whose approaches to linguistic normativity we focus on. However, some puzzles remain, especially the question: whence language norms? We may understand this question along the line of (generative) phenomenology where the task is “precisely to inquire after how historical and intersubjective structures themselves become meaningful at all, how these structures are and can be generated” (Steinbock 2003: 300). Following earlier work where we individually and together have argued for the value of a phenomenological approach to language (Blomberg & Zlatev, 2014, 2015; Zlatev, 2008, 2010; Zlatev & Blomberg, 2016), we attempt to show here how the philosophical tradition emanating from Edmund Husserl can both help resolve (conceptual) puzzles surrounding norms, and clear up the ground for further (empirical) study.