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Functional syntax and universal grammar

MPS-Authors

Van Valin Jr.,  Robert D.
Syntax, Typology, and Information Structure, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Foley, W., & Van Valin Jr., R. D. (2009). Functional syntax and universal grammar (Repr.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-442C-F
Abstract
The key argument of this book, originally published in 1984, is that when human beings communicate with each other by means of a natural language they typically do not do so in simple sentences but rather in connected discourse - complex expressions made up of a number of clauses linked together in various ways. A necessary precondition for intelligible discourse is the speaker’s ability to signal the temporal relations between the events that are being discussed and to refer to the participants in those events in such a way that it is clear who is being talked about. A great deal of the grammatical machinery in a language is devoted to this task, and Functional Syntax and Universal Grammar explores how different grammatical systems accomplish it. This book is an important attempt to integrate the study of linguistic form with the study of language use and meaning. It will be of particular interest to field linguists and those concerned with typology and language universals, and also to anthropologists involved in the study of language function.