DOI: 10.1515/ip-2023-4001 ISSN:

Resonance and recombinant creativity: Why they are important for research in Cognitive Linguistics and Pragmatics

Vittorio Tantucci
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


The present paper discusses the key role of creativity as a form of engagement and categorisation in interaction. One important way to display engagement ‘at talk’ is via resonance, that is when speakers re-use linguistic features that they heard from one another. Speakers constantly imitate and creatively recombine the utterances and the behaviors of their interlocutors. Recombinant creativity is a key cognitive mechanism subserving this, as it involves speakers’ re-elaboration of utterances and illocutionary forces of others, but also, more generally, the creative intervention on observed patterns of behaviour in context. Recombinant creativity is crucial for primarily two pragmatic and conceptual mechanisms: relevance acknowledgement and schematic categorization. A persistent tendency towards the proactive reformulation of an interlocutor’s speech is a textual indicator of relevance acknowledgement. This is because what is said by the other speaker is overtly treated as useful information for the continuation of the interaction. The opposite trend – to be measured on a large scale – is an indicator of lack of engagement. Recombinant creativity varies intra- and inter-culturally and is decisive for speakers’ enactment of socio-pragmatic schemas and the generalisation of form and meaning as a process of shared categorization.

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