Neo-Firthian Approaches to Linguistic Typology
William B. McGregor [+–]
Unlike the majority of functionally oriented theories, Systemic Functional Grammar and its congeners – referred to as Neo-Firthian theories – have evinced little interest in linguistic typology, and have made but minimal impact on the discipline. This book addresses these lacunae from two complementary perspectives. First, some inadequacies of the dominant “atheoretical” approaches to linguistic typology are identified, and it is shown how these can be circumvented through a firm foundation in a Neo-Firthian theoretical framework. Second, it is contended that Neo-Firthian approaches must take typology seriously as a criterion of theoretical adequacy, and be able to account for the full range of grammatical phenomena and their variation across languages, as well as those features that are universal. The argument proceeds through case studies of a selection of grammatical phenomena, in particular, grammatical relations, the noun phrase, complex sentence constructions, optional case marking and grammatical classification. Given the paucity of Neo-Firthian informed typological investigations, the book is largely programmatic, and points to potential mutual enrichments of linguistic typology and Neo-Firthian theories. The book is of interest to linguistics working within Systemic Functional Linguistics and other functional theories, as well as to typologists.
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