Usage-Based Theory

Joan L. Bybee and Clay Beckner

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199544004
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Usage-Based Theory

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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Pragmatics



Usage-based theory takes language to be an embodied and social human behaviour and seeks explanations in that context. This theoretical perspective incorporates the basic insight that usage has an effect on linguistic structure. This chapter discusses the following: background of usage-based theory; domain-general processes; exemplars, networks, and constructions; the role of repetition; language acquisition and adult-based change; and language as a complex adaptive system.

Keywords: usage-based theory; social human behaviour; exemplars; networks; constructions; repetition; language acquisition

Article.  11246 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Pragmatics

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