The capacity to generate and transmit new ideas through language has transformed the history of our species. How do we unleash this exceptionally powerful creativity with a small set of building blocks? Are some parts of human language more creative than others? Is it difficult to communicate if we’re too creative? Looking at both speech and writing, this panel will explore the interplay of creativity and normativity in language cognition, language learning, and language change.

David Adger is Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London, and President of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain. He works on the syntax of human language and how syntax links to other aspects of language, including  sociolinguistics, prosody, word-structure, semantics and pragmatics. His most recent book is Language Unlimited: The Science Behind Our Most Creative Power (OUP, 2019).

Devyani Sharma is Professor of Sociolinguistics at Queen Mary University of London. Her research is on new English dialects, inter-ethnic contact, bilingualism, accent variation, and language change. Her edited works include The Oxford Handbook of World Englishes, Research Methods in Linguistics, and English in the Indian Diaspora. She directs the online public resources Teach Real English! and Multilingual Capital.

Jennifer Smith is Professor of Sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow. She works on language variation and change, with a specific focus on how sociolinguistic norms are acquired in childhood and how they develop in later life. She is director of the Scots Syntax Atlas, an online resource for the study of Scots. 

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