LINGUIST List 8.773

Sat May 24 1997

Books: Functional Linguistics

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>

Additional information on the following books, as well as a short backlist of the publisher's titles, is available at the end of this issue.

Message 1: New Book: Functional Linguistics

Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 15:19:17 -0400
From: Tony Schiavo <>
Subject: New Book: Functional Linguistics


Functional Linguistics

Alan Huffman
1996 xii, 381 pp. Studies in Language Companion Series, 30
US/CANADA: Cloth: 1 55619 382 3 Price: US$120.00
Rest of the world: Cloth: 90 272 3033 1 Price: 200,--
John Benjamins Publishing web site:
For further information via e-mail:
This book offers an analysis of the French clitic object pronouns
'lui' and 'le' in the radically functional Columbia school framework,
contrasting this framework with sentence-based treatments of case
selection. It suggests that features of the sentence such as subject
and object relations, normally taken as pretheoretical categories of
observation about language, are in fact part of a theory of language
which does not withstand empirical testing. It shows that the correct
categories are neither those of structural case nor those of lexical
case, but rather, semantic ones. Traditionally, anomalies in the
selection of dative and accusative case in French, such as case
government, use of the dative for possession and disadvantaging, its
use in the 'faire'-causative construction, and other puzzling
distributional irregularities have been used to support the idea of an
autonomous, non-functional central core of syntactic phenomena in
language. The present analysis proposes semantic constants for 'lui'
and 'le' which render all their occurrences explicable in a
straightforward way. The same functional perspective informs issues of
cliticity and pronominalization as well. The solution offered here
emerges from an innovative 'instrumental' view of linguistic meaning,
an acknowledgment that communicative output is determined only
partially and indirectly by purely linguistic input, with
extralinguistic knowledge and human inference bridging the gap. This
approach entails identification of the pragmatic factors influencing
case selection and a reevaluation of thematic-role theory, and reveals
the crucial impact of discourse on the structure as well as the
functioning of grammar. One remarkable feature of the study is its
extensive and varied data base. The hypothesis is buttressed by
hundreds of fully contextualized examples and large-scale counts drawn
from modern French texts. This volume will be of interest to those
interested in any of the following topics: case; case government;
categories of observation vs. categories of explanation; causative
construction; cliticity; clitics; Columbia School; communication;
context-based grammar; data; dative; dative of possession; dative of
the disadvantaged; direct object; discourse: impact on grammar;
French; French pronouns; functional grammar; functionalism;
government; grammatical relations; grammatical theory; indirect
object; instrumental meaning; lexical case; linguistic theory;
maleficiary; non-modularity; possession; pragmatic factors in case
selection; pronominalization; pronoun systems; quantitative use of
data; radical functionalism; Romance languages; semantics; semantic
constants; semantic systems; semantics of grammar; sentence; sentence
parts; sentence-based theory of case selection; structural case;
thematic roles; traditional grammar.

- ------------------------------------------------------------
Anthony P. Schiavo Jr Tel: (215) 836-1200
Publicity/Marketing Fax: (215) 836-1204
John Benjamins North America e-mail:
PO Box 27519 
Philadelphia PA 19118-0519 

Check out the John Benjamins web site at
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