The teleological illusion in linguistic 'drift': choice and purpose in semantic evolution
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Linguistic models of all varieties have invoked the notion of ‘choice’, whether explicitly as in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) or implicitly through various fundamental concepts like ‘paradigm’ and ‘associative axis’, ‘agnation’, or even ‘optional’ versus ‘obligatory transformations’. The idea of choice as ‘meaning potential’ seems congruent also with the experience of language: as Halliday (this volume) has put it: “All human activity involves choice: doing this rather than doing that . . . meaning this rather than meaning that.”
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