Simon C. Dik

Simon Cornelis Dik ( born September 6, 1940 in Delden; † 1 March 1995 Holysloot ) was a Dutch linguist with a focus on theoretical linguistics.

Life and work

Born in 1940 in Delden, who grew up in Amsterdam, son of a painter and a teacher at the University of Amsterdam to a shiny high school studied classical philology, after kandidaatsexamen linguistics. As a student of Prof. Anton Reichling, an editor of the journal Lingua, he learned early on Noam Chomsky's " Syntactic Structures " 1957 know. Also in 1965 he was one of the first in the Netherlands, the Chomsky -received basic follow-on " Aspects of the Theory of Syntax" critical.

In his dissertation on Coordination ( Dik 1968) Dik criticized the generative theory and outlined there already be functional counter-model. In 1969 he was appointed to succeed his teacher Reichling to the Chair of General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. Apart from one with J. G. Kooij written introduction to the science of language was published in 1978 a first detailed exposition of his theory, which was followed by the "Studies in Functional Grammar" in 1980. Regular lectures and discussion groups in Amsterdam, and every two -yearly international conferences made ​​the theory known also attracted participants with different language interests in as the Latin linguist AM Bolkestein and led to a series of books on functional grammar. Among other honors Dik 1987 elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

In 1989 appeared the first part of the "Theory of Functional Grammar", which constitutes a revision and review of the theory. Since Dik seriously ill three years later, the publication of the second part was delayed. Although he long as he could, worked tirelessly on getting this book was published posthumously, edited by Kees Hengeveld, a disciple and successor Diks. Already died as Dik on 1 March 1995, the Dutch and international experts the importance of this linguist, his work and his theory was aware. From numerous pupils, not only in Amsterdam, the theory continues today, even under the more recent designation Functional Discourse Grammar.



It is essential to Diks functional theory of grammar (Functional Grammar ), by which is also present an outline ( cf. Dik 1978: 15-23 ), first turning away from the generative grammar. This primarily involves the rejection of transformations as an explanation ( " FG does not allow transformational operations in the sense of structure -changing rules", Dik 1980: 10) ", and also the already in the dissertation ( Dik 1968) put forward conviction that the syntactic level of explanation alone is not sufficient and must be supplemented by the semantics and pragmatics.

Diks theory mainly describes the simple and extended set in its syntactic, semantic and pragmatic perspectives. It uses among others a modified Valenzkonzept: While the arguments are core components of a semantically defined set model, the satellites are outside the nuclear predication. Dik strictly distinguishes between syntactic ( subject, object ... ), semantic (agent, goal, recipient ... ) and pragmatic functions ( topic, focus, theme, tail ) and understands the sentence according to a hierarchical model, which from its Kees Hengeveld students designed and developed was ( Hengeveld 1989). This model ranges from nuclear predication about core predication, expanded predication and proposition to the clause structure ( Siewierska 1991: 21). Basic are also the four also semantically defined types of issues that are important for the parameters tense, aspect and action type. Expression rules ( "expression rules" ) set at the end determine the grammatical form, the configuration and the intonation of linguistic expressions.

Functional means this theory firstly because, as stated above, the arguments of a predication are provided with syntactic, semantic and pragmatic functions (Limburg 2009). Functional means this theory but mainly because, as has been the inclusion of semantics and pragmatics shows syntax in contrast to Chomsky's formal syntax term is not an autonomous region but remains bound to the semantics and the semantics is in turn bound to the communication functions, which pragmatics examined ( Dik 1978: 5). In particular, the pragmatics, which became a solid component of this syntactic theory, deserves attention, because in the 1970s represented a new development in the generative era and today holds many challenges for the research.

For example, word order

Most clearly is Diks approach to word order. Typologies and other linguists mostly use syntactic models that describe the word order of phrase terms and characterize languages ​​such as SOV type. In contrast, sees Dik word order as a multifunctional phenomenon that is described in nine general and specific principles twelve ( Dik 1989: 340-355 ). Inter alia the pragmatic functions of topic and focus for the arrangement of the constituents are important. It is, Topik ' one constituent of a predication about the predication says something ( cf. Dik 1978: 141), focus ' is the constituent with the comparatively most important or most prominent information in relation to the pragmatic knowledge of the speaker and addressee ( ibid. : 149).

( H. Dik 1995, 2007 Spevak 2006) particularly convincing, this model is in languages ​​, free ' word order, such as Latin and Ancient Greek. However, there is - in contrast to traditional conceptions - by Dik any languages ​​with free word order, because it ( a) hardly are languages ​​that allow all possible sequences, and because (b) are different serializations expression important differences: "for example a difference in the pragmatic functions of the constituents " ( Dik 1989: 336).

A generalizable pragmatic formula of the constituent order in the sentence reads: "P2, P1 (V ) S ( V ) O ( V), P3 ' ( Dik 1978: 21,175 ), where S, O, V, subject, object, verb meaning and the abbreviation P1, P2, P3 represent different special positions. Is examined here in specific texts and sentences, how to distribute the crucial pragmatic functions of topic and focus on this model, whether, for example, the focus is often covered with P1 and whether a verb is just another form of P1 in top position. In any case, this model avoids the distinction of marked vs. unmarked, is not limited only to sentences with subject, verb and object, which is known to account for only a portion of the concrete language material, and so involves a far greater rate of flow.


As an important train of functional grammar Diks finally be mentioned is the typological adequacy, stating that a linguistic theory should be applicable to as many typologically different languages ​​( Dik 1989: 14). Here also there is a great potential of this theory, which required by RMW Dixon Basic Linguistic Theory form and thus could become a standard theory of typological language descriptions.