Functional-Cognitive Linguistics

The research group Functional-Cognitive Linguistics (FKL) aims at understanding language structures in terms of their communicative functions and cognitive basis.

The immediate theoretical basis is Danish Functional Linguistics (e.g. Engberg-Pedersen et al. 2006). With this basis, FKL draws upon crucial points in functional linguistics (especially T. Givón’s works, and Dik, Hengeveld og Mackenzie’s functional (discourse) grammar) and cognitive linguistics (Langacker, Talmy, Goldberg), but also on strict distinctions between content and expression, and between substance and structure inspired by Glossematics.

Accordingly, central assumptions in FKL are that language structure is 1) function- and usage-based, and 2) a language-specific answer to functional and cognitive requirements that are potentially universal.

FKL’s primary members are mostly linguists and grammarians specializing in Danish. FKL collaborates with the study circle under Danish Functional Linguistics. In principle, FKL’s field of interests comprises all structures in all languages (spoken as well as signed), but FKL does have a number of focal interests (see below).

FKL makes use of a wide range of methodologies, including corpus linguistic methods, psycho- and neurolinguistic methods, qualitative grammatical, semantic and pragmatic analysis, field linguistic methods and methods from variational linguistics.


The relationship between content and expression

The relationship between content and expression in the linguistic sign is often referred to as an arbitrary one. Arbitrariness is only a property of simple signs, however, and not even of all simple signs. A central research question is: How can content affect expression (and vice versa)?

The relationship between grammar and lexicon

We continue our research in the lexical-grammatical contrast as a function-based contrast. Also, we continue our efforts to establish an understanding of grammaticalization that is compatible with the function-based contrast. The basis for this work is Boye & Harder 2012.

The relationship between language structure and language processing

An adequate theory of language structure must take language processing into account. We plan to derive processing hypotheses from our central theoretical claims, and to test them in psycho- and neurolinguistic studies.

The relationship between structure and variation

The assumption that language structure is function- and usage-based entails that structures are formed and maintained in language use, and that they may disappear as the result of changes pertaining to usage. This means that language structure must be understood in connection





Name Title Phone E-mail
Berthelsen, Sabine Gosselke Guest Researcher +4535325379 E-mail
Boye, Kasper Associate Professor - Promotion Programme +4535328654 E-mail
Christensen, Marie Herget Teaching Assistant +4535335731 E-mail
Christensen, Tanya Karoli Professor +4535328493 E-mail
Engberg-Pedersen, Elisabeth Professor Emeritus +4530298664 E-mail
Kristensen, Line Burholt Associate Professor +4535328122 E-mail
Petersen, Jan Heegård Associate Professor +4535335933 E-mail
Schachtenhaufen, Ruben Academic Staff +4535334682 E-mail

Affiliated researchers 

  • Dalberg, Line
  • Hovmark, Henrik
  • Jensen, Torben Juel
  • Pedersen, Bolette Sandford
  • Poulsen, Mads
  • Poulsen, Simon
  • Schneidermann, Nina Skovgaard
  • Schöps, Antje

Head of research group