Language and Creativity: The Art of Common Talk (Routledge Linguistics Classics) Paperback – 29 Jan 2004
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'Reading this volume gives the same pleasure as dipping into a reference book on where words come from. It is fascinating and full of background interest ... It is an intriguing study, delving into how human beings use language and how every one of us is creative with it.' – ESB
'The strength of this book is that Carter uses "real" evidence, transcriptions of conversations from the Cancode corpus, a 5-million-word computerised database that includes recordings from a variety of settings in the UK and Ireland. This broad-ranging approach makes the book a useful consciousness-raising exercise for beginner students.' – Jean Aitchison, The Times Higher Education Supplement
'The book is a valuable new intervention which should be considered by all applied linguists for both the detail of its analyses and the larger questions it opens up.' – BaaL News
About the Author
Ronald Carter is Professor of Modern English Language in the School of English Studies, University of Nottingham.
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The book itself is in actuality the first set-text for the Open University Level 3 module 'E301: The Art of English', which explores the English language as a creative phenomenon in both spoken and written interaction. I chose to take this module as an optional course in order to complete a BA in Humanities with English Language, and this book certainly aids in helping to understand what the OU's course materials attempt to teach its students. In fact, Ronald Carter himself provides a few articles and chapters to the E301 module, so this first set-text is an excellent addition to what is an already interesting academic journey.
Published by Routledge in 2004, it can be said that the examples that Carter provides are a bit dated, especially since, in 2014, we are steadily entering into a greater technological age with smartphones, and computer tablets, for example. (This goes for the course itself I would say.) However, Carter's utilisation of the Cancode database and heavy focus on other such linguistic corpora illustrates just how he attempts to explore everyday language as creative in its ubiquitous presence.
Splitting his publication into three parts of 'Backgrounds and Theories', 'Forms and Functions' and 'Contexts and Variations', Carter outlines examples and explorations of spoken discourse taken from the Cancode database across six chapters altogether. He focuses on the clines and continua of linguistic creativity, with background exploration of theories from fellow linguists and scholars, in order to examine how our everyday speech can be seen as a creative act, using viewpoints from various cultures and time periods.
I would say that 'The Art of Common Talk' is definitely not intended for light reading; far from it. The E301 course team gives its students two weeks to read this set-text, and I found it extremely difficult to follow for the first few days. However, once I got into Carter's format and began to understand his terminology better, I became enthralled with the idea that language can have the power for fictional worlds to be created on a daily basis, via our creative methods of language usage. We ultimately have power over our spoken interaction, which can be either intertextually influenced or created via interdiscursive methods.
If you are an aspiring linguist and decide to pick up this book as some exploration of the art of spoken discourse, please be patient and take your time in coming to grips with Carter's own specific methodology regarding his subject matter. I would give the same advice to Open University E301 students, and I would also advise that you work with your tutor and fellow students in examining Carter's viewpoints from a critical perspective, especially since it is more than likely that the OU will expect at least some reference to this material when submitting your tutor-marked assignments online.
What's more, I found myself shaking my head and disagreeing with most things I came across in the book. One cannot always say that repetition is creative, however,this is something that Carter tries to convince us of all the time. I also felt that the conclusions were unconvincing.
After some 200 pages, to conclude that the more informal the situation the more likely creativity occurs is a total anti-climax. I would have thought this was obvious from the start without having to go through pages of text to find out.
Very disappointed with a potential interesting topic.
The writer enabled me to think critically and to see linguistic in different dimensions. Every time I read the book and I was in public for example, I started observing the people around me at the same time and everything made much more sense what I heard or saw in social life. The book is scientific and science in general also helps to understand why we are what we are in a social context. The book helped me also personally as I was able to travel/think back into my past and understand things better, relate things better and to understand myself better in the whole social context. Knowing more about linguistics enables you to understand people more and characters as well as why you have said yourself particular things.
The book made me understand the meaning of creativity in everyday language and I referred a lot to this book in my assignments. I immersed in this book and broadened my knowledge and horizon. The only thing I would say is that there is some repetition but this is not negative as it helps to memorize and manifest the knowledge in your mind and there is always relation.
So, everyone who is into linguistics, you should definitely get this superb book.
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