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Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage$
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Brian MacWhinney, Andrej Malchukov, and Edith Moravcsik

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709848.001.0001

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Motivating competitions

Motivating competitions

(p.262) (p.263) 16 Motivating competitions
Competing Motivations in Grammar and Usage

John W. Du Bois

Oxford University Press

This chapter is about motivations, competitions, and resolutions: about the motivations that shape the organization of grammar, the competitions that arise between these motivations, and the resolution of these competitions through the systematic and systematizing processes of grammaticization. It is in the real‐time decision‐making of verbalization and interpretation that competitions first arise, and ultimately must be resolved. Competing motivations are pervasive and powerful in language, and thus play a critical role in answering the fundamental functional question: Why are grammars as they are? The chapter explores how real competitions between functional units relate to speakers' strategies for achieving their communicative goals; clarifies and problematizes the functional frequency principle (“Grammars code best what speakers do most”); revisits the idea of competing motivations in relation to language as a complex adaptive system; and theorizes how competition and motivation interact to produce competing motivations, with important consequences for the adaptive emergence of grammar.

Keywords:   motivations, competitions, resolutions, functional units, communicative goals, functional frequency principle, grammaticization

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