It is part of a social semiotic approach to language called systemic functional linguistics. Thus, what he refers to as the multidimensional architecture of language “reflects the grammar dimensions 3 pdf nature of human experience and interpersonal relations.
Halliday describes his grammar as built on the work of Saussure, Louis Hjelmslev, Malinowski, J. Firth, and the Prague school linguists. In addition, he drew on the work of the American anthropological linguists Boas, Sapir and Whorf.
His “main inspiration” was Firth, to whom he owes, among other things, the notion of language as system. Among American linguists, Whorf had “the most profound effect on my own thinking”. From his studies in China, he lists Luo Changpei and Wang Li as two scholars from whom he gained “new and exciting insights into language”.
He credits Luo for giving him a diachronic perspective and insights into a non-Indo-European language family. From Wang Li he learnt “many things, including research methods in dialectology, the semantic basis of grammar, and the history of linguistics in China”.
Some interrelated key terms underpin Halliday’s approach to grammar, which forms part of his account of how language works. Another key term is lexicogrammar. In this view, grammar and lexis are two ends of the same continuum. Analysis of the grammar is taken from a trinocular perspective, meaning from three different levels.
This grammar gives emphasis to the view from above. For Halliday, grammar is described as systems not as rules, on the basis that every grammatical structure involves a choice from a describable set of options. Language is thus a meaning potential. Grammarians in SF tradition use system networks to map the available options in a language.
In relation to English, for instance, Halliday has described systems such as mood, agency, theme, etc. Halliday describes grammatical systems as closed, i.
By contrast, lexical sets are open systems, since new words come into a language all the time. These grammatical systems play a role in the construal of meanings of different kinds. This is the basis of Halliday’s claim that language is metafunctionally organised.
He argues that the raison d’être of language is meaning in social life, and for this reason all languages have three kinds of semantic components. Each of the grammatical systems proposed by Halliday are related to these metafunctions.