Language and creativity
Language and creativity

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Language and creativity

3.1 An animated look at creativity

In the next activity you will watch a short animation, which summarises many of the points we have discussed so far, and gives a further explanation about the three lenses and how they can be used to look at acts and processes of creativity.

Activity 4

As you watch the animation below, pay particular attention to the notion of the three Ps: products of creativity, processes of creativity, and the purposes of creativity. Look out also for the Kaufmann and Sternberg definition of creativity, and its strengths and weaknesses as a means of understanding the concept.

Download this video clip.Video player: Language and creativity: a short introduction
Skip transcript: Language and creativity: a short introduction

Transcript: Language and creativity: a short introduction

NARRATOR
Language and creativity. What is creativity, and what does it have to do with language? Creativity is a notoriously difficult concept to define. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:
WOMAN
‘The faculty of being creative. Ability or power to create.’
NARRATOR
The word derives from the adjective ‘creative’, which means:
WOMAN
‘Having the quality of creating. Able to create. Relating to, or involving, imagination or original ideas.’
NARRATOR
And this, in turn, comes from the verb ‘create’.
WOMAN
‘To bring into being, cause to exist. To produce where nothing was before.’
NARRATOR
A dictionary definition only gets us so far. We can also look at how other people have defined it and the key features they’ve identified for it. Creativity is:
MAN
‘Intelligence, having fun.’
WOMAN
‘The process of having original ideas that have value.’
MAN
‘Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.’
WOMAN
‘Creativity is not a capacity of special people, but a special capacity of all people.’
NARRATOR
But perhaps it’s easiest to start by looking at the different contexts in which linguistic creativity can occur. This range includes high-literary art:
WOMAN
‘Oh Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art thou, Romeo?’
MAN
‘Tyiger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night.”
NARRATOR
And, also, everyday communication.
MAN AND WOMAN
[SINGING] ‘Education shouldn’t be a debt sentence. Education shouldn’t be a debt sentence. Education …’
WOMAN
[Sixth-form post] ‘People found guilty of not using punctuation deserve the longest sentence possible.’
NARRATOR
We can also look at the wide range of ideas and practices that creativity can involve.
MAN
Poetic, dramatic, literariness, aesthetic, foregrounding–
MAN AND WOMAN
–defamiliarisation. Artful, playful, imaginative. [ECHOING] Translating, adapting, revising, remixing, repeating, recycling. Performance, participation, evaluation–
MAN
–Critique.
NARRATOR
Across all these definitions, a few key ideas crop up again and again. Creativity is seen as something which is new or novel, which is valued, and which is appropriate to its context. But even pinning it down to these key ideas just leads to further questions.
WOMAN
What does it mean to be novel?
MAN
What counts as being appropriate?
WOMAN
How can we judge value?
MAN
And who decides?
NARRATOR
So how do we take an analytical approach to creativity? We can start by thinking of it in terms of three different aspects. We can look at it in terms of its ‘products’.
WOMAN
‘Tyger, tyger, burning bright, in the forests of the night.’
NARRATOR
In terms of the ‘processes’ it involves.
MAN
‘A lamb walks into a “baa”.’
NARRATOR
And in terms of the ‘purposes’ to which it is put. When we study it, we can focus on different elements of the phenomenon, and we can use different lenses to do this. We can use a textual lens to look at how language is manipulated in various ways to create a particular effect.
WOMAN
‘Tyger, tyger burning bright in the forests of the night.’
NARRATOR
We can use a contextual lens to examine how meaning is tied to the social, cultural and historical contexts in which the communication takes place. And we can use a critical lens to examine the values and assumptions that are embedded in the context. For example, we can look at how value is assigned to acts of creativity and the implications this has for society.
MAN
[Auctioneer] ‘Forty-five, once. Forty-five, twice. Sold at 45 million.’
NARRATOR
So where does this leave us? When people talk of something being creative, what they’re usually doing is making a value judgement, and usually a specifically positive value judgement.
‘A highly–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–piece of work–
NARRATOR
–sets his–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–spirit in motion–
NARRATOR
–looking for–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–alternatives.’
NARRATOR
‘Tokyo’s a great–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–city.’
NARRATOR
‘An all around–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–thinker.’
NARRATOR
‘She’s a unique–
WOMAN
–creative–
MAN
–artist.’
NARRATOR
People take a number of different positions about how exactly it should be studied. For example, whether the focus should be more on the product of creativity or on its process.
WOMAN
‘Tyger, tyger burning bright, in the forests of the night.’
NARRATOR
But despite these differences, it remains a very important topic for people from a wide range of disciplines.
WOMAN
And the reasons for this are because of the key roles it plays in human communication.
MAN
The fact that it’s a way of making what we say or write stand out – of initiating and responding to change.
NARRATOR
And, ultimately, of organising our understanding and experience of the social world.
End transcript: Language and creativity: a short introduction
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Language and creativity: a short introduction
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).
E302_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus