Grammar in linguistics and grammar in psychology. Notes on the history of productive antagonism
The word “grammar” has long been used to refer to a mental capacity of speakers as well as to rule books trying to describe (and explain) patterns of constructions in languages. The history of modern linguistics has been shaped by the attempt to arrive at a more realistic modeling of grammar within the factual processes of language use. The long standing controversy between structure and process, between linguistics and psychology, between grammar and the “life of language”, has created a highly dynamic pattern of linguistic evolution. Elegant formal models of linguistic structure are challenged from time to time by growing evidence on the real “life of language”, rendering these models mostly irrelevant for understanding of the processes of language use. I present some examples from the history of linguistics in the 19th and 20th centuries, illustrating the repetitive (and productive) nature of this antagonism. The examples are taken from traditional school grammars, from early language acquisition research, and from pragmatics and conversation analysis.