Language and Creativity: The Art of Common Talk

By Ronald Carter | Go to book overview

Introduction

The genesis of the book

In the Beginning was the Word.

Starting points for books can often be accidental. It was several years ago now when the starting point for this book was found, somewhat unpropitiously, one dark and slightly misty autumnal morning as I was making my trolley-pushing way towards the check-in of a local regional airport. My eye was caught by a single line of red and blue letters spread out across a large glass-fronted placard. They were arrayed in a straight line against a plain white background. The letters were the letters of the alphabet. Momentarily intrigued by the sight of the alphabet occurring in this form and in this context, I looked more closely, not at first noticing that one of the letters was missing and that its absence was accentuated by a gap between the letter p and the letter r, more or less as follows:

abcdefghijklmnop rstuvwxyz

Closer inspection revealed, of course, that the placard was an advertisement for an airline which counted among the proclaimed benefits of travelling business class the fact that there were no 'queues' at its check-in desk and that check-in for passengers with hand luggage only could be undertaken automatically by a machine.

Several minutes later when I was sitting in the departures lounge my thoughts were disturbed by the person next to me, a young Irishman who was holding a child (a little girl about 18 months of age) in his arms and moving her rhythmically back and forth while gazing intently into her eyes and occasionally rubbing his nose against hers. He was softly singing nursery rhymes which I had long forgotten having sung to my own children but which were soon recalled almost verbatim with a surprising immediacy.

Hickory, dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one

-1-

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Language and Creativity: The Art of Common Talk
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Backgrounds and Theories 15
  • 1 - Approaches to Creativity 17
  • 2 - Lines and Clines 53
  • Part II - Forms and Functions 87
  • 3 - Creativity and Patterns of Talk 89
  • 4 - Figures of Speech 115
  • Part III - Contexts and Variations 145
  • 5 - Creativity, Language and Social Context 147
  • 6 - Creativity, Discourse and Social Practice 170
  • Appendix 1 219
  • Appendix 2 222
  • Appendix 3 227
  • References 231
  • Index 249
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