Jan Firbas, the man who had a calling


ADAM Martin

Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical (without peer review)
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Education

Description In his numerous papers, Mathesius endeavoured to establish the essential principles rendering word order; he “allots the leading role to the grammatical principle, ranking FSP only with factors of secondary importance” (Firbas 1974). Further research on the position of word order in the English language showed that besides word order (and intonation in spoken language), semantic structure operates as an effective means of FSP. In 1964, Jan Firbas published a paper on functional sentence perspective, introducing the concept of communicative dynamism (CD). In his article, he defines the degree of CD as “the extent to which the element contributes towards the development of the communication” (Firbas 1964). As has been proved many times, Firbas’ understanding a sentence as a field of distribution of CD (accompanied by the factors of context and semantic structure) provides us with one of the most effective approaches towards the study of language (for more details, see Adam 2006). The theory of functional sentence perspective (FSP) represents the teaching of the Prague School of linguistics and has been developed both by Prague and Brno University scholars, Jan Firbas in particular. The author recalls Jan Firbas, who would have turned 100 years of age in 2021, as a man of faith.

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