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Academic Paper

Title: Michael A. K. Halliday, On grammar. London: Continuum, 2002.
Author: Johann Wolfgang Unger
Institution: Lancaster University
Linguistic Field: Not Applicable
Abstract: Michael A. K. Halliday, On grammar. London: Continuum, 2002. Pp. x, 442. Hb $49.95.

This is the first volume in a series entitled The collected works of M. A. K. Halliday. Halliday professes to be a “generalist” (p. 7), and this is clearly reflected in the range of titles in the series: The language of early childhood, Computational and quantitative studies, and Language and society, to name just three of the ten. Halliday's introduction in this volume (1–14) serves as an introduction to the whole series. In it, Halliday revisits many of the debates he has had in the past: among others, with followers of Chomsky; with psychologists; with corpus linguists who claim that corpus linguistics is just a tool for analysis; with sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu who, Halliday claims, sidesteps the need for any linguistic analysis at all. Halliday likes “weak boundaries” (1), and this is reflected in some of the papers reproduced in this volume. Although they are all centered on his evolving notions of “grammar,” anyone familiar with Halliday's work will know that “grammar” for Halliday is not restricted to a traditional or generative conception of syntax, but rather includes phonological, lexical, and other linguistic levels. For anyone not very familiar with Halliday's work, On grammar should not be confused with an overview of Systemic Functional Linguistics. Rather, it is a collection of snapshots, allowing readers to trace the scholarly development of Halliday's ideas over time.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 37, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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