The Nature of Idiomatic Knowledge

Jesus Martinez del Castillo


Since idiomatic knowledge, the knowledge of speakers to speak or competence is exclusive of humans it answers to the nature of humans who are creative and contingent. Idiomatic knowledge is nothing previously made but something being created at the moment of speaking. It is creative because it is individual and new thus answering to the needs of expression of the individual speaker who speaks in accordance with a context and situation. It is contingent and thus historical because speakers learn it from the speaking community they belong to. Depending on the conception the linguist has about language and what to be a human means, idiomatic knowledge may appear as unconscious (Saussure), innate and thus intuitive (Chomsky) or merely intuitive, something learnt in the same way as the other types of knowledge or competence (Coseriu). My aim now is to study the type of intuitive knowledge it is, starting with the human peculiar characteristics of creativity and historicity (Coseriu, Ortega y Gasset) and analyzing the verbal behavior of speakers.

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