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Book: Describing Language: Form and Function

Chapter: Editor's Preface

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.36462


How does one's grammar depend on one's conception of language? In systemic functional linguistics, language is viewed as a meaning potential, thus embracing the view, now supported by contemporary theories of the evolution of human consciousness, that language has evolved in the living of life in society. Using the theoretical framework of systemic functional linguistics, the chapters of this book explore the nature of language, the relations of meaning and society, of form and meaning, and of grammar and lexis. Halliday has referred to the level of lexicogrammar as the powerhouse of language: this is where the resource for creating linguistic meaning resides. But language as resource cannot be adequately described as a set of syntagmatic structures; instead, the primary focus must be on the paradigmatic axis, which after all furnishes the principle for the actualisation of syntagms. Accordingly, aspects of Urdu and English semantics, grammar and lexis are presented here in terms of systemic options, realised as structures.

Chapter Contributors

  • Jonathan J. Webster ( - book-auth-40) 'City University of Hong Kong'