Workshop on Functional Discourse Grammar

Linearization in Functional Discourse Grammar

University of Graz, Graz, Austria, 13-14 July 2023


  • Thomas Schwaiger (University of Graz)
  • Elnora ten Wolde (University of Graz)
  • Evelien Keizer (University of Vienna)

The ninth International Workshop on Functional Discourse Grammar (IW-FDG-2023) will take place at the University of Graz, from 13 to 14 July 2023. The present plan is for participants to meet in person on location, but this may have to be modified or changed depending on the future Covid-19 situation.
Following the IW-FDG tradition, this workshop will be devoted to the discussion of a particular topic relevant to the FDG framework with the purpose (i) to develop and improve the theory of FDG (Hengeveld & Mackenzie 2008) and (ii) to publish an edited volume or special issue comprised of the papers discussed during the workshop. Previous workshops have all resulted in the publication of a special issue in a respected journal or an edited volume in a well-known book series. To realize these aims, the following procedure is followed in the preparation and organization of the workshop.


Daniel Garcia Velasco & Elnora ten Wolde, Alignment in the NP. Evidence from English and Spanish
Riccardo Giomi, Constituency and linearization in Functional Discourse Grammar
Kees Hengeveld & Evelien Keizer, Linearization in Functional Discourse Grammar
J. Lachlan Mackenzie, Contrast facilitates predictive processing
Nathalia Martins & Roberto Camacho, A Functional Discourse account of classifying and qualifying modifiers within the noun phrase in Brazilian Portuguese
Matthias Mittendorfer, Discourse functions, placement and prosody: an FDG analysis of left- and right-dislocation in British English
Ozan Mustafa, Polarity in extra-clausal epistemic expressions in English: form, function and placement
Ventura Salazar & Abigail Carretero, Linearization of negative words in Spanish
Ewa Zakrzewska, Constituent order of the verbal clause in Bohairic Coptic

The topic

A great deal of attention has been given to various aspects of word order, in particular at clausal and phrasal level, in language-specific, comparative and typological studies. Most of these studies focus on a certain type of linguistic element and/or a particular domain, such as adverbs at the clausal level (e.g. Cinque (1999) and Pittner et al. (2015) for comparative accounts; Ernst (2002), Haumann (2007) and Hasselgård (2010) for English), adjectives at NP level (see Bolinger (1967) for English; Cinque (2010) for a comparative account of Germanic and Romance languages; Matthews (2014) for English), and various kinds of dependents within the NP (see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 380-381, 388-390) and Ghesquière (2014) for English, and Rijkhoff (2002) for a typological account). In addition, diachronic studies have offered explanations for changes in the position of certain elements (e.g. Adamson 2000; Breban 2006, 2008, 2010; Ghesquière 2009, 2014; Ghesquière & Davidse 2011 for changes in the position of modifiers within the English NP). Finally, typologists have looked at general principles governing universal tendencies in the ordering of adjectives within the NP (e.g. Dixon 1982) or bound morphemes within different classes of words (e.g. Muysken (1986); Manova & Aronoff (2010); Rice (2011); see also Hengeveld & Mackenzie (2008: 405-412)).
Naturally, linearization plays a role in every linguistic framework, sometimes in the form of templates, sometimes in the form of rules. Extensive and detailed accounts of the relative placement of adjuncts can often be found in generative studies, in particular in the cartographic approach (Cinque 1999, 2010; Cinque & Rizzi 2008; Laenzlinger 2015), which includes functional aspects, while at the same time maintaining the principle of the autonomy of syntax. Functional and cognitive accounts, on the other hand, focus on the role of semantic and, particularly, pragmatic factors to account for (strong) preferences in or constraints on the linear placement of clausal and phrasal elements by relying on templates (zone-based approaches, e.g. Halliday & Matthiessen 2014; Ghesquière 2014); such approaches do not, however, provide an overall mechanism that takes into consideration all these factors and the way they interact in triggering specific word orders within the clause or phrase. More form-oriented functional theories, however, rely on templates in combination with (functionally inspired) placement rules for the linear placement of elements within the clause and phrase (e.g. Van Valin & LaPolla 2005; Hengeveld & Mackenzie 2008).
Functional Discourse Grammar uses a sophisticated system of templates and placement rules that distinguishes itself from other theories in that (i) in accordance with the model’s overall function-to-form orientation, it takes a top-down approach, from meaning (formulation) to form (encoding); (ii) it takes into consideration all kinds of discourse-pragmatic (interpersonal) and semantic (representational) factors; (iii) it distinguishes between absolute and relative positions, thus creating a flexible system on the basis of simple templates (consisting of at most four absolute positions); (iv) it applies equally to clauses, phrases and words (Hengeveld & Mackenzie 2008: Ch. 4; Hengeveld 2013; Keizer 2015: Ch. 5). However, application of this system has, as yet, been very limited, and as such it has not really been put to the test. Moreover, the system does not provide for the placement of extra-clausal positions (see Giomi & Keizer 2020). In addition, the systematic influence of discourse-pragmatic and semantic factors on word order, as well as the influence of word order on the phonological realization of utterances, still needs to be described in more detail.
The aim of this workshop is (i) to provide more insight into the functional factors that trigger/influence linear placement in specific constructions in a variety of languages; (ii) to contribute to the FDG approach to linear placement by applying the placement rules proposed in the theory, both from a language-specific and from a typological perspective; (iii) by extending the system to include elements in the extra-clausal domain; (iv) to provide insight into the interface between the linear placement and the phonological (segmental and suprasegmental) properties of elements.

Specific research questions

  • Which interpersonal and representational factors play a role in the placement of elements within the clause, phrase or word; in particular:
  • what is the role of pragmatic functions or interpersonal operators on the placement of elements?
  • how can we deal with multi-factorial accounts of differences in word order (e.g. the different combinations of factors that may trigger prehead or posthead placement of arguments or modifiers)?
  • how can we account for the relative placement of modifiers at clause and phrase level (e.g. multiple modifiers within the noun phrase)?
  • Which functional features determine the (absolute/relative) placement of extra-clausal elements (including left- and right-dislocation)?
  • What is the role of complexity? How does FDG deal with such processes as extraposition, fronting, heavy-NP shift etc.?
  • What is the influence of position on prosodic realization?
  • With regard to the placement rules in FDG:
  • Can the placement rules account for the placement of elements in various constructions in different languages?
  • Are the basic assumptions correct?
  • Do the rules require modification?
  • To what extent do we accept free variation – which aspects of placement are a matter of morphosyntactic alignment (including priming)?
  • How can FDG capture/explain changes in word order brought about by diachronic processes?

The workshop

The workshop consists of a number of chaired sessions, during which each paper will be discussed in great detail. Contributors will be asked to give a brief introduction (approx. 10 minutes) in which they react on the reviews they have received; subsequently, other participants can ask questions and make suggestions. The aim of this procedure is twofold: it will help to improve the final versions of the papers and it will allow us to create a unified set of papers, which will enhance the chances of publication as a special issue or a thematic volume.

The program committee

The program committee consists of:

  • Riccardo Giomi (University of Liège)
  • Evelien Keizer (University of Vienna)
  • Thomas Schwaiger (University of Graz)
  • Elnora Ten Wolde (University of Graz)

How to reach us

The email address for all matters related to the workshop is


Adamson, Sylvia. 2000. A lovely little example: Word order options and category shift in the premodifying string. In Olga Fischer, Anette Rosenbach & Dieter Stein (eds.), Pathways of Change: Grammaticalization in English, 39-66. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bolinger, Dwight. 1967. Adjectives in English: Attribution and predication. Lingua 18: 1-34.
Breban, Tine. 2006. The grammaticalization of the English adjectives of comparison: A diachronic case study. In Roberta Facchinetti & Matti Rissanen (eds.), Corpus-Based Studies of Diachronic English, 253-288. Bern: Peter Lang.
Breban, Tine. 2008. Grammaticalization, subjectification and leftward movement of English adjectives of difference in the noun phrase. Folia Linguistica 42(4): 259-306.
Breban, Tine. 2010. English Adjectives of Comparison: Lexical and Grammatical Uses. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and Functional Heads: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 2010. The Syntax of Adjectives: A Comparative Study. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Cinque, Guglielmo & Luigi Rizzi. 2010. The cartography of syntactic structures. In Bernd Heine & Heiko Narrog (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis, 51-65. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dixon, R. M. W. 1982. Where Have All the Adjectives Gone? and Other Essays in Semantics and Syntax. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ernst, Thomas. 2002. The Syntax of Adjuncts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ghesquière, Lobke 2009. From determining to emphasizing meanings: The adjectives of specificity. Folia Linguistica 43(2): 311-343.
Ghesquière, Lobke 2014. The Directionality of (Inter)Subjectification Processes in the English Noun Phrase: Pathways of Change. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ghesquière, Lobke & Kristin Davidse. 2011. The development of intensification scales in noun-intensifying uses of adjectives: Sources, paths and mechanisms of change. English Language and Linguistics 15(2): 251-277.
Giomi, Riccardo & Evelien Keizer. 2020. Extra-clausal constituents in Functional Discourse Grammar: Function and form. Revista da Abralin 19(3): 159-185. DOI 10.25189/rabralin.v19i3.1717. Available at:
Halliday, M. A. K. & Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen. 2014. An Introduction to Functional Grammar, 4th edn, revised by Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen. London: Routledge.
Hasselgård, Hilde. 2010. Adjunct Adverbials in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Haumann, Dagmar. 2007. Adverb Licensing and Clause Structure in English. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hengeveld, Kees. 2013. A new approach to clausal constituent order. In J. Lachlan Mackenzie & Hella Olbertz (eds.), Casebook in Functional Discourse Grammar. 15-38. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hengeveld, Kees & J. Lachlan Mackenzie. 2008. Functional Discourse Grammar: A Typologically-Based Theory of Language Structure. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Keizer, Evelien. 2015. A Functional Discourse Grammar for English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Laenzlinger, Christopher. 2015. Comparative adverb syntax: A cartographic approach. In KarinPittner, Daniela Elsner & Fabian Barteld (eds.), Adverbs: Functional and Diachronic Aspects, 207-238. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Manova, Stela & Mark Aronoff. 2010. Modeling affix order. Morphology 20(1): 109-131.
Matthews, P. H. 2014. The Positions of Adjectives in English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Muysken, Pieter. 1986. Approaches to affix order. Linguistics 24(3): 629-643.
Pittner, Karin, Daniela Elsner & Fabian Barteld (eds.). 2015. Adverbs: Functional and Diachronic Aspects. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Rice, Keren. 2011. Principles of affix ordering: An overview. Word Structure 4(2): 169-200.
Rijkhoff, Jan. 2002. The Noun Phrase. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Van Valin, Robert D. & Randy J. LaPolla. 2005. Syntax: Structure, Meaning and Function. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

This workshop has been funded by:

The University of Graz & The PostDoc office at the University of Graz

The University of Vienna