Summarise the main points of your chosen reading and evaluate, with reference to other material in the module you have engaged with to date, the extent to which it helps you understand how to identify creativity in everyday language.
In literary terms creativity is the use and manipulation of language. It exists in a variety of literary and communication practices. Noam Chomsky refers to creativity as being ‘a speaker/listeners ability to produce or understand a (potentially) infinite number of sentences they have not encountered’ (as cited in Swan 2006). Traditionally language play was considered to be the use of words and language that were associated with poets and ...view middle of the document...
Adults are far more secretive as rhymes and chanting would be considered ‘childish’. An example Cook gives of secretive use of repetition in adults is that of Valentines messages which are usually personal and intimate. Cook also offers several examples of public displays of repetition such as language used in the media and speeches. One notable example that Cook points to is Martin Luther King’s speech. Cook makes a valid point here as he explains that despite having a similar grammatical structure to children’s playground language, Martin Luther King’s speech is ‘one of the best known and most highly valued pieces of English ever produced’(Cook 2006) yet we wouldn’t put the same value on a child reciting a rhyme or taunt that they had made up.
Deborah Tannen goes so far to suggest that repetition ‘comes from a basic human drive to imitate and repeat’ (as cited in Swan 2006). Tannen’s suggestion supports Cook’s idea that language play serves as a social function that can be used to bond people together but can also be used to exclude. Children can not only use rhyming and chanting to be part of a social group but also to exclude others. Cook uses the example of taunting rhymes among children to highlight this. This type of aggressive language play is not exclusive to children according to Cook who refers to a well-documented instance that is termed ‘verbal duelling’. Cook offers the example of verbal exchanges between rappers in California who compete against each other using a language structure that contains repetition, rhyme and rhythm. It could be argued that this kind of language play is similar in structure to that of children’s playground language, despite Cook claiming that this type of language play is less evident in adulthood. While verbal duelling is best well known for exchanges between under-privileged social groups, Cook explains these types of exchanges happen between the more prestigious and powerful groups such as politicians and lawyers etc. Cook refers to the House of Commons debates where this verbal duelling between speakers is common place.
Cook’s notion of language play serving as a social function is a common theme among sociolinguist. Examples of this can be found in storytelling. Michael Toolan suggests we use stories for several different reasons such as entertaining others, to explain ourselves, to create solidarity and to distance ourselves from others. He also suggests that stories are often littered with word play, clever uses of phrasing, irony and exaggeration which support the idea of language play being an everyday creative activity. Using the example of Alison’s story in chapter 2 where she recalls the story of a car crash she was involved in we can see that the format and structure of the story is typical of what we see in everyday story telling. Alison’s story is full of intensifiers such as ‘huge’, ‘massive’, ‘scared’ etc. which all aid her in forming a social bond with her listeners. Toolan emphasises...