The key argument of this book, originally published in 1984, is that when human beings communicate with each other by means of a natural language they typically do not do so in simple sentences, but rather in connected discourse-complex expressions made up of a number of clauses linked together in various ways. A necessary precondition for intelligible discourse is the speaker's ability to signal the temporal relations between the events that are being discussed and to refer to the participants in those events in such a way that it is clear who is being talked about. A great deal of the grammatical machinery in a language is devoted to this task, and Functional syntax and universal grammar explores how different grammatical systems accomplish it.
In so doing a functional theory of language is developed-one which assumes that the structure of language is intimately related to its role in communication. This theory, `Role and Reference Grammar', differs markedly from `formal' theories such as Chomsky's which treat language as essentially a formal object independent of communication. Within this framework the authors consider many topics which are at the heart of syntactic theorizing including the semantic structure of the clause, case marking, voice and grammatical relations, clause linkage, and reference-tracking mechanisms, and they argue that all of these aspects of grammatical systems are interdependent and can only be fully understood from a discourse-oriented perspective. A major feature of the book is the wide range of languages that are examined, special emphasis being given to American Indian, Australian, Papuan and Philippine languages.
Functional syntax and universal grammar is an important attempt to integrate the study of linguistic form with the study of language se and meaning. It will be of particular interest to field linguists and those concerned with typology and language universals, and also to anthropologists involved in the study of language function.
Series: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics (Paperback)
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: 12th November 1984
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24
Weight (kg): 0.63