This EU-funded project innovatively combines language change research with research on the individual mind. In the past linguistics has often treated change as happening to an abstract object ‘language’. But it is the minds of actual people that change language. Mind-Bending Grammars will contribute to our understanding of the adaptive powers of adult cognition. The project specifically aims at making a breakthrough in two key issues in linguistic theory by tracing with the utmost detail step-by-step changes in grammatical constructions:
- How much innovation is possible in the adult cognitive system? Where does change halt only to be continued by a next generation?
- Are changes in adult cognition one-off events or are they connected? How strong do connections need to be before structures start coevolving as a group?