Misconceptions about functionalism


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Misconceptions about functionalism

  1. 1. Misconception about Functionalism & Future of Functionalism Presented by : Sidra Shafi
  2. 2. What is Functionalism • Functionalism is a reaction against the "formal" linguistics theories that began with Saussurean Structuralism in the early 1900s. • Structuralism let go of diachronic language study (language change over time) • in the 1970s Functionalism reopened diachronic study as a means of discovering the answer to how language change fits language function: change according to use • Functionalists focus on all categories of linguistics including phonology and syntax and grammar. • Structuralists make no attempt to explain linguistics, "letting the structure simply be" (DeLancey).
  3. 3. • Functionalism • First published Tue Aug 24, 2004; substantive revision Wed Jul 3, 2013 • Functionalism in the philosophy of mind is the doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type. • does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays. • This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes's conception of the mind as a “calculating machine”, but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only in the last third of the 20th century. • Though the term ‘functionalism’ is used to designate a variety of positions in a variety of other disciplines, including psychology, sociology, economics, and architecture.
  4. 4. Contd… • Structuralism, begun by Saussure, focuses on structural interconnections in synchronic context (language at a synchronous, specifically selected, moment in time). • It is synchronic interconnectedness that obviates(bypass) the need for diachronic linguistic knowledge (language change overtime).
  5. 5. Prototypical(original) representatives of "functionalism" • general: Greenberg 1966, Croft 1990, Paul 1880/1920 • syntax: Givón 1984-90, Hawkins 1994, Croft 2001 • morphology: Bybee 1985 • phonology: Lindblom 1986, Bybee 2001 non-prototypical representatives: • Foley & Van Valin 1984, Langacker 1987-91, Dik 1997
  6. 6. Characteristics of Functionalist work • interest in diachrony, emphasis on the constantly changing nature of language. • structure and the diachronic origins of grammatical patterns (grammaticalization) • interest in broad cross-linguistic patterns, generalizations based on a wide variety of languages (typology; "functional-typological approach") • no assumption of a (small set of) universal formal categories (but meanings must be universal in some way) • no interest in developing descriptive(explanatory) frameworks with elaborate formalisms • interest in regularities of language use (e.g. corpus data= organized) • no strict division between grammar(sentence structure) and lexicon(dictionary) • descriptive economy is not an important criterion • the innate human linguistic endowment is not seen as constraining the form of grammars in an interesting sense
  7. 7. Grammatical functions • Functions exist on all levels of grammar, and even in phonology, where the function of the phoneme is to distinguish between lexical material. • Semantic function: (Agent, Patient, Recipient, etc.), describing the role of participants in states of affairs or actions expressed. • Syntactic functions: (e.g. subject and Object), defining different perspectives in the presentation of a linguistic expression • Pragmatic functions: (Theme , Topic and Focus, Predicate), defining the informational status of constituents, determined by the pragmatic context of the verbal interaction.
  8. 8. Some misconceptions • Functional linguists study language function (or performance), formal linguists study language form (or competence). NO: Functionalists claim that the explanation of language form involves appreciating the regularities of language function • Functional linguists reject the competence/performance distinction NO: Functionalists try to explain competence on the basis of performance, because they think that competence can be affected by performance. • Functional linguists think that nothing in language structure is arbitrary. NO: Everyone recognizes that grammars are full of arbitrariness, but functionalists emphasize non- arbitrariness and attempt explanation wherever possible.
  9. 9. Contd… • Functional linguists reject the autonomy of syntax. NO: If autonomy is defined as in Newmeyer (1998) ("systematic arbitrariness in syntax exists"), it is uncontroversial. • Functionalists only reject the idea that syntax should be studied as if functional explanation were impossible (just as formal linguists reject the idea that syntax should be studied as if systematic arbitrary generalizations were impossible). • Functional linguistics is a theoretical. • NO: Functionalists don't think of description as explanatory, hence they do not emphasize the properties of the descriptive tools they work with.
  10. 10. Why functional explanations are attractive • they are more general, because they link linguistic facts to non-linguistic facts • they allow exceptions (e.g. German & other languages), so their empirical coverage is broader • they are cognitively more conceivable than a highly specified innate UG with constraints. • functional explanations are testable, unlike the innateness.
  11. 11. Functional sentence perspective • Prague School Linguists use the term which emphasizes the functionalist motivation of research on the topic. For Example: i. This morning he got up late. ii. He got up late this morning. • Might be regarded as different versions of the same sentence or different sentences. Whichever point of view the adopt, two things are clear: 1. truth – conditionally equivalent and a narrow inter truth. 2. the context in which (i) would be uttered differ systematically from the context in which (2) would be uttered. In so far as word – order is held to be a matter of syntax,
  12. 12. Objections to Functionalism • The previous sections were devoted to the presentation of the different varieties of functionalism and the evaluation of their relative strengths and weaknesses • There have been many objections to functionalism which apply to all versions of the theory.
  13. 13. The Future of Functionalism • “Formalism seeks to replace real language with ideal language; functionalism seeks to discover real language”. • functionalism can expect massive assistance from an important new resource. Using computers with sophisticated software, usage of much larger corpora of authentic data than before. • The ‘observed use of language’ can not just ‘constitute the subject-matter of linguistics’ (pace Chomsky), but reconstitute it with principles that are both quantitatively and qualitatively new (Beaugrande 2000a).
  14. 14. Contd… • an evolutionary functionalism concerned with increasing the freedom and equality of access to knowledge and social standing through discourse. • Cognitive functionalism combines the goals of functionalism and of cognitive linguistics,. • It tries to explain the properties of language in terms of the cognitive pressures on language.
  15. 15. CONCLUSION • In general, we can say that functionalism in linguistics has tended to emphasize the instrumental(active) character of language. There is a natural similarity, • Fucntionalism firmly opposed to generativism. • language is determined by the several interdependent semiotic(study of symbols & signs- lang system of communication) function • Functionalism, on the other hand, seeks functional explanations for language in terms of general assumptions such as the principle of contrast (minimize ambiguity).
  16. 16. THANKS