Approaches to Systemic Functional Grammar - Convergence and Divergence - Gordon Tucker

Approaches to Systemic Functional Grammar - Convergence and Divergence - Gordon Tucker

15. The Ideational Semantics of the Canonical Existential Clause in English

Approaches to Systemic Functional Grammar - Convergence and Divergence - Gordon Tucker

Kristin Davidse [+-]
Catholic University of Leuven
Kristin Davidse is professor of English Linguistics at the University of Leuven. She is also an alumna of the University of Sydney, where she was introduced to Hallidayan Functional Linguistics. Halliday supervised her Ph.D. in Linguistics on Categories of Experiential Grammar (1991). Her main research interest is the description of English grammar from a functional perspective. In the area of clause grammar, she has published on such topics as transitive – intransitive versus lexically ergative clauses, as well as middle, existential, copular and ditransitive constructions. In addition, she has dealt with it-and there-clefts and clauses containing fact projection. She has also published on various processes of change such as grammaticalization, deictification and intersubjectification in the English nominal group, as well as on the structure and functions of the nominal group per se. She was one of the founding editors of the journal Functions of Language.

Description

This article challenges the locative interpretation of English unmarked existentials, according to which existential there is analysed as an adverb designating an abstract location, which may be specified by an adjunct predicating a specific location of the Existent NP (e.g. Lyons 1975). Existential there is argued to be a definite enclitic pronoun, pointing with weak cataphoric force to the entities designated by the Existent NP. It is proposed that the clause nucleus of unmarked existentials expresses quantification of the newly introduced instantiation of the type specifications conveyed by the Existent NP. This semantic target is restricted to the specifications of the search domain provided by the VP, any sentence adjuncts that may be present and relevant elements from the context.

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Citation

Davidse, Kristin. 15. The Ideational Semantics of the Canonical Existential Clause in English. Approaches to Systemic Functional Grammar - Convergence and Divergence. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 293-312 Jun 2020. ISBN 9781781796870. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34276. Date accessed: 11 Aug 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34276. Jun 2020

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