Languages With and Without Objects
The Functional Grammar Approach
Among the theoretical frameworks which consider grammatical relations to be a possible but not necessary level of clausal organization, the approach to the object relation espoused in Simon Dik's (1978, 198g, 1997) Functional Grammar is the most restrictive. Unlike various other models of grammar, only one object relation is recognized and its presence in a language is conditional on the existence of a productive dative-shift opposition relating predications depicting the same states of affairs, as in the case of the English The teacher gave the picture to the child and The teacher gave the child a picture. Taking the existence of pairs of clauses such as these as a diagnostic of the object relation heavily reduces the number of languages manifesting an object relation, so the presence of an object relation emerges as a potentially interesting typological parameter. But do the languages manifesting an object relation, in this restrictive sense of the term, have any properties in common other than the object relation? Little attention has been given to this issue either by Functional Grammarians or other linguists who adopt a similar view of the object relation. The present paper seeks to redress this situation by exploring the cross-linguistic applicability of the object relation, as defined in FG, in an extensive sample of genetically and geographically stratified languages. It examines the typological characteristics of the languages with objects in the FG sense of the term and establishes the typological profile most likely leading to the presence of an object relation.
Published online: 09 November 1999
Cited by 16 other publications
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