The Functional Discourse Grammar approach to syntax

J. Lachlan Mackenzie

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG) is a theory of the organization of Linguistic Expressions as encoding Discourse Acts. It takes a “form-oriented function-toform” approach, distinguishing between formulation (yielding the Interpersonal and Representational Levels) and encoding (yielding the Morphosyntactic and Phonological Levels). It seeks to achieve pragmatic, cognitive, and typological adequacy, which together define it as belonging to the functionalist paradigm in linguistics. The FDG approach to syntax cannot be understood without continual reference to the Interpersonal and Representational Levels, whose internal structure combines hierarchical layering and configurations of equipollent elements. In the dynamic implementation of FDG, the layering inherent in the formulation levels impacts the creation of syntactic structure, with the hierarchically related elements having prior access to absolute positions and configurational elements being placed thereafter. Languages are distinguished according as they display a predominance of interpersonal, representational or morphosyntactic alignment. Researchers in FDG use a broad range of data types, according to their particular academic settings, traditions and goals. The model differs from many functionally oriented grammars in employing formalization. A full reasoned analysis is given of the sample sentence devised by the editors of the volume for this purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent approaches to syntax
Subtitle of host publicationA comparative handbook
EditorsAndrás Kertész, Edith Moravcsik, Csilla Rákosi
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9783110540253
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Publication series

NameComparative Handbooks of Linguistics (CHL)
PublisherDe Gruyter


Dive into the research topics of 'The Functional Discourse Grammar approach to syntax'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this