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Book: Neo-Firthian Approaches to Linguistic Typology

Chapter: Complex Sentence Constructions

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.33968


Complex sentence constructions have been extensively studied in linguistic typology, and a wide range of typologies have been proposed. A serious limitation in this work has been the lack of attention to grammatical structures in the complex sentences, and the tendency to assume categories of traditional grammar. Neo-Firthian approaches – including Systemic Functional Grammar – have made notable theoretical contributions, and have provided depth descriptions of complex sentence constructions in English in particular. This chapter will argue that the fundamental features of the Systemic Functional Grammar theory of clause combination can be employed in a typology of complex sentence constructions that goes well beyond the standard typological accounts. In particular, it will be argued that distinct grammatical types of complex sentences can be identified cross-linguistically in accordance with Halliday’s metafunctions – which I refer to as semiotics or semiotic types – in particular the experiential, logical and interpersonal. This provides a universal framework within which the typology of complex sentence constructions can be investigated, and for an informed analysis of the grammatical structures involved.

Chapter Contributors

  • William McGregor ( - billmcgregor) 'Aarhus University'