Sprache als Epiphänomen in der Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft

  • Gerda Haßler University of Potsdam


The notion of ‘epiphenomenon’ is usually used to exclude certain aspects of a scientific object because they are considered to be deduced from others. In linguistics, restrictions of the research object were made, invoking the notion of ‘epiphenomenon’, which was partially done with a polemical at- titude, and was always responded to polemically. The best-known definition of languages as an epiphenomenon is that proposed by Chomsky, who declared that the specific realisations of language do not warrant scientific attention, but there were early relegations of properties of individual languages to the domain of an epiphenomenon of grammar, to the domain of an art and not a science. These relegations from a certain point of abstraction did advance theories of language, even though they took a point of abstraction that did not correspond to the complexity of language.