Structure and Function – A Guide to Three Major Structural-Functional Theories

2 Volumes (set)

Christopher S. Butler | Honorary Professor, University of Wales, Swansea
ISBN 9789027230737 (Eur) | EUR 280.00
ISBN 9781588113603 (USA) | USD 420.00
ISBN 9789027230744 (Eur) | EUR 140.00
ISBN 9781588113610 (USA) | USD 210.00
These two volumes offer a detailed description and comparison of three major structural-functional theories: Functional Grammar, Role and Reference Grammar and Systemic Functional Grammar, illustrated and tested throughout with corpus-derived examples from English and other languages.

Part 1 discusses the characteristics of functional theories and isolates a set of ‘structural-functional grammars’, among which FG, RRG and SFG are central. An overview of each theory in relation to the simplex clause is followed by a more critical comparison. Other chapters deal with phrasal units, the representation of situations, and the treatment of tense, aspect, modality and polarity, across the three theories.

Part 2 deals with the areas of illocution, information structuring, complex sentences, discourse/text/context, language learning, and applications (stylistics, computational linguistics, translation, language pathology). The final chapter assesses the extent to which each theory attains the goals it sets for itself, and outlines a programme for the development of an integrated approach.

[Studies in Language Companion Series, 63-64] 2003.  xx, 573 pp. & xiv, 579 pp.
Publishing status: Available
“Christopher Butler is one of the very few linguists who not only knows about a whole series of functional frameworks, but actually masters them in great detail. In this truly comprehensive work he uses this knowledge to provide clear introductions to each of the theories separately, to compare the way they handle a whole range of issues central to linguistic theory, and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. But an even more important feature of this work is that Butler comes up with many insightful suggestions about the ways in which each of the functional theories discussed could profit from the ideas developed in the other frameworks. This book merits careful attention by all those engaged in the further elaboration of a functional theory of language, and by those who are interested in the development of grammatical theory in general.”
“It is difficult to imagine who else could have written this book. It is a formidable piece of scholarship carried out by not just an exceptionally well-informed functionalist but a virtual insider of all three theories. Only such a scholar could hope to succeed in providing a critical overview of three models of grammar which simultaneously documents the internal diversity within the theories and captures the essence of the intellectual debates conducted within them. And succeed he does. The book is exceptionally well researched. The author takes on board the contributions made to each of the three theories of a large body of scholars, not just of their chief exponents. This is especially significant in the case of SFG which occurs in distinctive Sydney and Cardiff varieties and includes a semiotic grammar offshoot. FG too has a cognitive instantiation in the form of functional procedural grammar, and a lexically oriented one in the guise of the functional lexemic model, as well as several discourse varieties such as functional discourse grammar and incremental functional grammar. To orient oneself in this maze, let alone come to grips with it, is no mean accomplishment and one which any reader interested in the functional enterprise will benefit from.”
“This book is a formidable piece of scholarship. It is especially impressive in two regards. First, it presents detailed expositions of three linguistic theories with which the author has been personally involved, and therefore he can write as something of an insider about each. His thorough knowledge of each theory makes it possible for him to do the kind of perceptive, detailed cross-theoretical comparisons which are often lacking in contemporary linguistic scholarship. Second, virtually all of the data used in the book to illustrate the theories is drawn from the British National Corpus or from corpora of Spanish and other languages; it is 'live' data, not artificially constructed examples. Butler has really achieved something here: by using corpus data exclusively, he has in effect tested the three theories against real sentences from English and other languages, and the extent to which they can handle them is a significant validation of the approaches.”