Formulaicity is pervasive in both spoken and written language. Speakers use a huge amount of prefabricated language including collocations, idioms, fixed and semi-fixed expressions, and verbal creativity often involves combining established word sequences rather than inventing wholly new ones. In literature, formulaicity was long disparaged as the opposite of creativity, and a hallmark of ‘genre fiction’ of questionable aesthetic value, but a more recent approach sees all writing as intertextual – a tissue of citations and creative reworkings of other texts. The chapters in this book elucidate the nature of semi-fixed formulaic sequences; how the meaning of formulaic expressions can change over time; how readers interpret formulaic expressions in first and second languages; how modern and postmodern authors use traditional genres and tales to challenging effect; and how formulaic patterns involving particular words can underlie the texture and meanings of entire novels. Together, the contributions to this collection provide a convincing reassessment of the potential creativity of the formulaic in a variety of linguistic and literary contexts. This book was originally published as a special issue of the European Journal of English Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Formulaicity and creativity in language and literature Ian MacKenzie and Martin A. Kayman
1. Formulaic sequences: a drop in the ocean of constructions or something more significant? Andreas Buerki
2. Begging the question: chunking, compositionality and language change Carol Lynn Moder
3. How native and non-native speakers of English interpret unfamiliar formulaic sequences Alison Wray, Huw Bell and Katy Jones
4. Rewriting the fairy tale in Louise Murphy’s and Lisa Goldstein’s Holocaust narratives María Jesús Martínez-Alfaro
5. Transforming the pantomime formula in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan Kirsten Stirling
6. ‘The Hollow Echo’: Gothic fiction and the structure of a formulaic pattern Manuel Aguirre
Ian MacKenzie recently retired from the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. His research largely concerns the role and nature of English as an international language.
Martin A. Kayman is a former Head of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University, UK, and a general editor of the European Journal of English Studies. He researches and publishes on law and literature, and on the cultural politics of English as a global language.