Looking ahead

Systemic functional linguistics in the twenty-first century

Authored by: Gerard O’Grady , Tom Bartlett

The Routledge Handbook of Systemic Functional Linguistics

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415748407
eBook ISBN: 9781315413891
Adobe ISBN: 9781315413884


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Butler and Gonzálvez-García (2014: 25), in their monumental survey of functional linguistic theories, classify systemic functional linguistics (SFL) as somewhat of an outlier. One of the chief reasons for this, they note, is that functional linguistic theories are not usually concerned with analysing texts; SFL, conversely, is a text-oriented model of language (Butler and Gonzálvez-García 2014: 488). As such, SFL does not classify language as an autonomous object. Contra Chomsky (for example Berwick and Chomsky 2016: 81), SFL argues that language did not emerge as a vehicle for structuring thought, but rather as a means of communicating with one’s peers. 1 However, the SFL view of communication is richer than that current within the cognitive linguistic framework. Language for SFL is not exclusively representational; equal attention – as this book has made clear – is devoted to non-representational meaning both interpersonal and textual. With the exception of the Cardiff Model, SFL does not focus on language as an embodied intrapersonal theory of language, but rather on language as a shared social-semiotic meaning-making resource. 2

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