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Journal Articles Language Sciences Year : 2013

On the dual nature of the Functional Discourse Grammar model

Francis Cornish


The Functional Discourse Grammar model has a twofold objective: on the one hand, to provide a descriptively, psychologically and pragmatically adequate account of the forms made available by a typologically diverse range of languages; and on the other, to provide a model of language which is set up to reflect, at one remove, certain of the stages the analyst assumes the speaker would go through in producing such forms, in terms of the types of discourse acts that may be performed in so doing. The article argues that these goals do not sit easily the one with the other. In practice, the whole emphasis of the levels, components and modules provided by the grammar is designed to achieve only the first of the two objectives. The Contextual component is restricted to representing only those aspects of the context of a given utterance which have a systematic influence on the form of that utterance. So in practice, the analytic approximation to the speaker's performance of discourse act types is far removed from the complexity of the contextual factors which impinge on his or her actual utterance acts in some specific context. The problem is compounded by the lack of any systematic differentiation between considerations relating to the language system, and those having to do with the use of that system in some context. The need to provide for such a distinction is motivated here by a consideration of various types of indexical reference (specifically, "anadeixis" and anaphora) within a discourse. Here an important distinction is made between the nature of the indexical referring procedure being applied, and the particular expression types being used to carry it out. In fine, the article argues that it is only by attempting to subsume the grammatical apparatus of the modular FDG system within a model of the wider utterance context in which it may be used by a speaker, that the problems raised earlier may be satisfactorily resolved.


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hal-00965257 , version 1 (24-03-2014)


  • HAL Id : hal-00965257 , version 1


Francis Cornish. On the dual nature of the Functional Discourse Grammar model: Context, the language system/language use distinction, and indexical reference in discourse. Language Sciences, 2013, 38, pp.83-98. ⟨hal-00965257⟩
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