A theory of linguistic individuality

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talkResearch


Although linguists from different traditions have expressed their belief that each and every person is unique in the version of the language they know and use, a concept often called idiolect, this area of investigation remains seriously underdeveloped in linguistics. Apart from the academic interest in this topic, this kind of knowledge is needed because of one of the forensic applications of linguistics: authorship identification. In these cases, forensic linguists tend to devise and adopt ad hoc methodologies that vary depending on the case and that tend to be often purely qualitative. A better understanding of linguistic individuality would be useful to move the field towards a more scientific approach to this problem.

In this talk I will firstly introduce the audience to forensic linguistics and authorship identification and then review the direct and indirect evidence in favour of a theory of language that should account for a large amount of individuality and uniqueness. I will then present a few elements of a novel formal theory of linguistic individuality, at least for what concerns the lexicogrammar of a language, and then finally detail some of its predictions for future research.
Period15 Jun 2022
Held atFriedrich-Alexander Universitat Erlangen Nurnberg, Germany
Degree of RecognitionInternational