18. The ‘architecture’ of language according to systemic functional theory: developments since the 1970s
Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen [+]
The development of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) has always been of an evolutionary kind rather than of a revolutionary kind: Halliday (e.g. 1959; 1961) built on his immediate predecessors instead of distancing himself from them and new findings have been added in a cumulative fashion. This has been true of all aspects of SFL – theory, description, analysis, application – and it has certainly been a property of the development of the systemic functional model of the ‘architecture’ of language (and in more recent years of other semiotic systems as well). Here I will be concerned with the modelling of this ‘architecture’. The term ‘architecture’ has been used quite widely in discussing the organisation of language and of other systems as well (see Matthiessen, in press, for general remarks). It embodies a helpful metaphor – as long as we keep in mind that language is not rigid, it is not static and it is not designed.