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Challenging Boundaries in Linguistics

Systemic Functional Perspectives

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Edited By Stella Neumann, Rebekah Wegener, Jennifer Fest, Paula Niemietz and Nicole Hützen

Linguistics, like any discipline, is full of boundaries. However, in nature, as Ruqaiya Hasan points out, there are no clear cut boundaries. The participants of the 42nd International Systemic Functional Congress held at RWTH Aachen University addressed and challenged the notion of boundaries in linguistics in many creative ways. Twenty-one of the papers presented at the congress are collated in this volume. The six sections cover topics that challenge theoretical notions and stances, and explore historical, interpersonal and lexicogrammatical boundaries as well as those between languages and in language development. The volume presents a state of the art overview of systemic functional linguistic theorising with extensions into other theoretical frameworks.

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Systemic functional diachronic linguistics: Theory and application (Michael Cummings)

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Michael Cummings York University (Toronto)mcummings@glendon.yorku.ca

Systemic functional diachronic linguistics: Theory and application

Abstract: This chapter proposes a theoretical framework for diachronic studies within systemic functional lexicogrammar, illustrated by an application to the grammar of the verbal group from earlier Old English through to modern English. The framework offers principles for diachronic description which relate to delicacy, realization and instantiation.

1 Introduction

This paper proposes a general theoretical framework for diachronic studies within systemic functional lexicogrammar, illustrated by an application to the grammar of the verbal group simplex (Halliday 1976; Halliday and Matthiessen 2014, 22, 361–362, 396–411; Matthiessen 1996) from earlier Old English (EOE) through to modern English. The framework considers the systemic functional linguistic categories of unit, structure, class and system (Halliday and Matthiessen 2014, 5–10, 21–24) across the diachronic axis. It also embraces the systemic functional linguistic theory of metaredundant realization/construal (Halliday and Matthiessen 2014, 25–27; Matthiessen 1995, 3–10; Halliday 2002/1992, 352–358) and of the clines of delicacy and instantiation (Halliday and Matthiessen 2014, 22–23, 27–28); and it applies this to diachronic description.

1.1 Principles of diachronic description

These considerations have led to four principles for diachronic description. The principle of diachronic delicacy proposes that diachronic descriptions are more or less delicate depending on the number of diachronic stages of development which are involved. The principle of diachronic realization and the principle of diachronic instantiation are...

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