The view on language as inventories of abstract forms, rather than as aspects of meaningful action, interaction and practices in the world, is quite pervasive. This dominant view is widespread in the language sciences and in mundane culture, but it is above all characteristic of the discipline of linguistics.1 As a matter of fact, the construction of a language as a set of forms and the constitution of (traditional and modern) linguistics as a particular academic discipline are intricately intertwined processes. In this respect, the case of linguistics is hardly unique, nor even very remarkable. As Atkinson (1995:21) observes:
All academic disciplines actively create and construct their subject matter. The world-be it the natural or the social world-does not present itself to our academic gaze already packaged into the subject matter of research and theorizing. Indeed, the very processes, intellectual and practical, whereby we undertake our research serve to demarcate the proper subject matter for inquiry. Disciplines define themselves in relation to the objects of research. In so doing, they simultaneously define those objects themselves. Disciplines and their objects each co-exist, mutually defining one another.