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Functional Discourse Grammar

Functional Discourse Grammar



ACLC staff: prof. dr. Kees Hengeveld, Em. prof. Wim Honselaar

ACLC PhD candidates:  Hong Mei Fang  MA, Lois Kemp MA, Marieke Olthof MA, Marlou van Rijn MA

External staff: dr. Daniel Garcia Velasco, dr. Hella Olbertz,  dr. Ewa Zakrzewska.


Functional Discourse Grammar (FDG) is a new version of Functional Grammar (FG) (Dik 1997). It models the grammatical competence of individual language users as part of a larger model of the language use. It is envisaged as the grammatical component, alongside a conceptual, a contextual, and an output component, of a larger model of the language user. FDG models are characterized by five properties:

  1. FDG models the grammatical competence of individual language users;
  2. FDG takes the discourse act as its basic unit of analysis;
  3. FDG distinguishes an interpersonal, a representational, a structural, and a phonological level of linguistic organisation;
  4. FDG orders these levels in a top-down fashion;
  5. FDG structures each of the levels of linguistic organization being organised hierarchically.

By organizing the grammar in this way, FDG takes the functional approach to language to its logical extreme: within the top-down organization of the grammar, pragmatics governs semantics, pragmatics and semantics govern morphosyntax, and pragmatics, semantics and morphosyntax govern phonology. The development of the model itself draws on the analysis of three types of data, which represent various angles as represented in the ACLC Language Blueprint research program: description of individual languages, typological research and language contact studies.

Current Research projects

  • A functional analysis of Bohairic Coptic narratives (Zakrzewska)
  • A grammar of Cofán (Hengeveld)
  • Evidentiality in FDG (Kemp, Hengeveld, Olbertz)
  • Grammaticalization in FDG (Hengeveld, Honselaar, Olbertz)
  • Incorporation (Olthof, Don, Hengeveld)
  • Sentence-final particles in Mandarin (Fang, Hengeveld)

Functional Discourse Grammar

Annual report 2017 Annual report 2016