The lexical-grammatical dichotomy in Functional Discourse Grammar


  • Evelien Keizer UvA - Universiteit van Amsterdam/Amsterdam - Holanda


Lexical-grammatical Dichotomy, Predicate-operator Distinction, Grammaticalization, Linguistic Categorization, Linguistic Prototypes,


This paper deals with the lexical-grammatical distinction in Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG), addressing such issues as the nature of linguistic categorization (strict versus gradual) and the possibility of representing gradience in underlying representation. It will be shown that both FDG and its predecessor, Functional Grammar (FG), are ambivalent with regard to the lexical-grammatical distinction. On the one hand, both models seem to accept the possibility of strict categorization, making ‘a rather sharp distinction between lexical (or content) elements and grammatical (or form) elements in the structure of linguistic expressions’ (DIK, 1997, p.159), whereby lexical elements are captured by predicates and grammatical elements are analysed as operators or functions. At the same time, however, it is implicitly accepted that categorization is not always an all-or-nothing affair (e.g. DIK, 1997, p.194). The aim of the present paper is, first, to resolve this ambivalence by offering an inventory of criteria (pragmatic, semantic, morphosyntactic and phonological) for the classification of (English) linguistic elements as lexical or grammatical. Secondly, it is argued that, although both distinctions are useful and justifiable, there is no one-to-one relationship between the lexical-grammatical dichotomy and the distinction between predicates and operators/functions. Finally, a proposal is made for an FDG-representation of a particular group of linguistic elements (including pronouns, demonstratives, numerals and prepositions) which do not clearly belong to either category but combine lexical and grammatical features.


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KEIZER, E. The lexical-grammatical dichotomy in Functional Discourse Grammar. ALFA: Revista de Linguística, São Paulo, v. 51, n. 2, 2009. Disponível em: Acesso em: 27 maio. 2024.



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