Skip to content


William B. McGregor

Pages 242 - 245

The part-whole relation has enjoyed a prominent place in linguistics since at least the turn of the twentieth century; indeed, it has – under the label constituency – come to represent perhaps the fundamental relation in grammar. Almost all modern theories of grammar incorporate it in a prominent place, and analyse grammatical structures fundamentally in terms of this relation. Thus, Edward Sapir’s famous the farmer kills the duckling is analysed as a single whole consisting of parts, such as (according to some theories) the farmer and kills the ducking or (in other theories) the farmer, kills, and the duckling. Other more abstract analyses are adopted in other theories, which might identify parts that have no direct representation in terms of linguistic form.

1Linguistics, Cognitive Science and Semiotics, School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University

1 Haas, W., (1954), “On defining linguistic units”, Transactions of the Philological Society: 54-84.

2 Halliday, M. A. K., (1985), An introduction to functional grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

3 Hudson, R., (1976), Arguments for a non-transformational grammar. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

4 Hudson, R., (1984), Word grammar. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

5 McGregor, W. B., (1997), Semiotic grammar. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

6 McGregor, W. B., (2003), “A fundamental misconception of modern linguistics”, Acta Linguistica Hafniensia 35: 39-64.

7 Longacre, R. E., (1960), “String constituent analysis”, Language 36: 63-88.

8 Wells, R. S., (1947), “Immediate constituents”, Language 23: 81-117.


Export Citation