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Challenging Boundaries in Linguistics

Systemic Functional Perspectives


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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Meeting the challenge of instructed language development: Reflections on systemic functional contributions (Heidi Byrnes)


Heidi Byrnes Georgetown

Meeting the challenge of instructed language development: Reflections on systemic functional contributions1

Abstract: This article considers contributions by SFL to an understanding of instructed L2 development. It relates central SFL concepts to prominent contemporary language theories; exemplifies SFL-derived research approaches; and demonstrates their utility for educative work. The article concludes by highlighting how curricular thinking would further advance our understanding of instructed L2 development.

This paper is dedicated in gratitude to the memory of Ruqaiya Hasan, linguist extraordinaire, an inspiration to all of us who came to know her through her incisive scholarship, through her spirited presentations at conferences, through her engagement in issues in the world that called for social justice by way of language-oriented action, and through her love of life.


The title of my presentation is: “Meeting the challenge of instructed language development”, and its subtitle is “Reflections on systemic functional contributions.” With that two-part choice of wording I have signaled that I believe that understanding instructed ‘language development’ is indeed a challenge for the language studies field, surely a rather odd statement to make regarding something that is so central to the work of professionals in language studies. At the same time I have also signaled that, in my judgment, systemic functional linguistics (SFL) can make important contributions as language professionals, both within←459 | 460→ the theoretical framework of SFL and also those espousing numerous other approaches, seek to meet...

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