Natural Language as Subject Matter of Linguistics

Janusz Bańczerowski
Towards the end of the 19th century, the innovative materials of the Neogrammarians started to become exhausted. The inductive paradigm they supported, accompanied by historicism, positivism, evolutionism and psychologism, was replaced in the first quarter of the 20th century by a new linguistic paradigm called structuralism, that is, verificationism. Within the context of structuralist concepts, natural language was considered an entity (system of signs) that exists independently of people; on the one hand, in the mind of the speaker it has significant autonomy, on the other, it exists independently of it. N. Chomsky was the first to initiate attempts to establish the relation between language and the speaker by redirecting the interest of linguists within the framework of generative, that is, falsification paradigm, from the language corpus to the study of the so called linguistic competence. Only recently, scientists have started to turn towards the cognitive role of language, that is, towards the function language has within the man’s mental framework. The concept of knowledge has an important role in the cognitive theory of language. Knowledge is almost exclusively explained by the content of various spoken and written linguistic expressions. However, that kind of knowledge can be qualified as an error of ontological type. The author proves that knowledge is such a quality that it cannot be conveyed to anyone, and that is why people use languages, why they create them. When interacting, people convey to each other signals that replace knowledge. These signals can be more or less adequate language signs. These language signs can only serve to evoke symbols in the process of communication. Knowledge can be reconstructed, created, only on the basis of information that is known.
Key words
natural language; linguistic paradigms; induction; structuralism; generativism; cognitivism; speaker; linguistic competence; language sign; evoked symbol; knowledge; meaning; function; communication
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