FORMAL AND FUNCTIONAL APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE...

Author:
Mirjana Borucinsky, Sandra Tominac Coslovich
Email:
mborucin@pfri.hr; stominac@pfri.hr
Summary
The aim of this paper is to present the Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) (Halliday 1985, 1994, Halliday and Matthiessen 2004, Fawcett 2010) as one of the fundamental traditional functional theories. Following a brief introduction and a discussion of formal and functional approaches to grammar, we describe the development of SFG, its two main models (the Sydney and the Cardiff model) and the principal notions such as lexicogrammar, metafunctions, choice and rank. Lexicogrammar describes the continuity between grammar and lexis whereby grammar represents a set of choices which the speaker/writer makes in a given context. According to SFG, language is functionally organized, and in such an organization metafunctions produce structures. Halliday considers metafunctions to be a property of all languages. There are three metafunctions: the ideational, textual and interpersonal. Just like a clause, or a sentence, a nominal group exhibits all three metafunctions. However, the most important metafunction for a nominal group is the ideational one, which consists of two subcomponents: the logical and the experiential component. The former describes the premodifier (PRM), the head (H) and the postmodifier (POM) while the latter consists of the deictic, the numerator, the epithet, the classifier, the Thing and the qualifier. The functions of a unit of a higher rank are realized through units of lower rank, which is referred to as rankshifting. For instance, a prepositional group can assume a lower ranking position and operate as a qualifier (i.e. word) within a nominal group. Furthermore, the theory of SFG is compared with other traditional functional grammars such as Functional Grammar (Dik 1989, 1991), Role and Reference Grammar (Foley and Van Valin 1984, Van Valin and LaPolla 1997), West Coast Functionalism (Givón 1995, Hopper 1987, 1992, Hopper and Thompson 1980, 1984) and non-traditional, i.e. cognitive grammars (Lakoff 1987, Fillmore and Kay 1993, Kay and Fillmore 1999, Goldberg 1995, 2006, Michaelis and Lambrecht 1996, Croft 2001) in order to show the strengths of SFG when it comes to describing nominal groups. Due to the metafunctional analysis of nominal groups, SFG can account for very complex units of language.
Key words
systemic functional grammar; traditional functionalism; non-traditional functionalism; lexicogrammar
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