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Diachronicity in Systemic Functional Linguistics

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Systemic functional linguistics has intensively studied synchronic language variation, both the diatypic and the dialectal. Even though some systemic functional analyses of aspects of historical dialects, mainly English, and various descriptions of historical texts, also mainly English, have been made, nevertheless systemic functional diachronic studies have been relatively neglected.

The aim of this book is to provide a model for the diachronic description of languages within the systemic functional framework, with particular emphasis on the history of English for illustration. At the centre of the model are the historical relationships between successive states of semantics and of lexico-grammar. Changes from one state to another are seen to occur within specific parameters. Diagrams of changes from one structural configuration to another, and from one system-network configuration to another can conveniently be seen as three-dimensional. The first part the model concerns cultural semantics, discourse semantics, register and genre. Change over the history of English in each of these areas runs through the stages of Old English, early Middle English, later Middle English, early Modern English, and later Modern English. The second part of the model concerns lexico-grammar, with a concentration on changes through the same historical stages of English in structures and systems.

Published: Sep 1, 2024