Defining linguistic creativity can be very difficult to do as the term is used in many different contexts – from media and marketing, through to art and literature. In fact many authors tend to refer to ‘artful’ and ‘literary’ when relating to day-to-day language and the distinction between prose and the routine. What, therefore distinguishes, for example, a standard utility payment reminder letter from poetic prose? Joan Swann in The Art of the Everyday refers to creativity as the ‘ability to produce or understand an infinite number of sentences not previously encountered’. Swann further describes how a range of literary and linguistic features is utilized within literary creativity including repetition, punning, metaphors rhyme and patterning, in order to exploit and create linguistic effect (Swann 2006).
In his article, Extracts from ‘common language: corpus, creativity and cognition’, Roald Carter, (in Maybin and Swann (2006)), Professor of Modern English at the University of Nottingham, summarises his research into the relationship between language and creativity. The research is based on a collection of spoken discourse as extracted from the CANCODE spoken corpus of English Discourse. Carter describes how the corpus almost totals five millions words of discourse from a wide range of spoken data, collected from informal discourse within a non-institutional setting. Whilst many academic articles focus on written literary texts, the CANCODE data is an extensive collection of informal spoken English. Carter summarises his research by claiming that “linguistic creativity in not simply a property of exceptional people, but an exceptional property of all people’ (Carter 2004, p 13). Carter’s article further states that ‘everyday language is far from being either everyday or common . . . . . .it is often perversely poetic.’
Carter’s research focuses on the relationship between language and creativity, and the CANCODE corpus highlights a number of.