Thursday, 31 March 2016

Modality & Person

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 526):
… it is always the judgement of the speaker or listener that is represented as a choice of modality, not that of any third party (this is one of the boundaries drawn between ‘me–&–you’ and ‘the rest’).

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Modalisation & Modulation

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 526):
In English, there are four distinct grammatical traverses between ‘yes’ and ‘no’, two [probability & usuality] deriving from the polarity of propositions (‘it is/it isn’t’) and two [obligation & readiness (inclination & ability)] from the polarity of proposals (‘do/don’t’).

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Modality: Between Yes & No

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525-6):
This is the area of “modality”, where the interactants present different aspects of their own judgements and opinions, exploring the validity of what is being said and typically locating it somewhere between the positive and negative poles.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Scope For Argument

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
The system provides scope for argument by incorporating an opposition of ‘on’ or ‘off’; each clause assigns either positive or negative polarity.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Argument Moves

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
The mood system constructs the clause as a move in an argument: either as a “proposition” (statement or question) or as a “proposal” (offer or command).

Saturday, 26 March 2016

1st & 2nd Person

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
… there can be no “first person” unless there is a “second person” with whom these rôles can be alternately acted out.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Person: 1st-&-2nd Vs 3rd

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
… the basic distinction constructed by language is not, as sometimes claimed, that between ‘me’ and ‘the rest’; it is that between ‘me–&–you’, on the one hand, and the rest — the ‘third party’ — on the other. This distinction is coded in the grammar at many places, for example in the system of modality …

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Person: Interpersonal vs Ideational Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
… the interpersonal [metafunction] is language in its “first and second person” guise; the interaction of a ‘me’ and a ‘you’. The ‘me’ and the ‘you’ are of course constructed in language; they have no existence outside the social semiotic. Once constructed, me and you become a part of experience and can be referred to alongside the him, the her and the it; but note that (unlike the interpersonal meaning, which does not change) their ideational meaning changes every time there is a change of speaker (this is what makes me and you so difficult for children to learn).

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Mood System Creates The Potential For Arguing

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 525):
Choosing a particular speech function is, obviously, only one step in a dialogue; what the grammar creates, through the system of “mood”, is the potential for arguing, for an ongoing exchange of speech rôles among the interactants in a conversation. The mood system, together with other systems associated with it, constructs a great range of speech functional variation; and since in principle any ideational meaning can be mapped on to any interpersonal meaning, this makes it possible to construe any aspect of experience in dialogic form.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Commodities & Action

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 524-5):
If the commodity being exchanged is goods–&–services, then the action that is given or demanded is typically a non-verbal one: what is being exchanged is something other than a construction of meanings, and the meanings serve to bring the exchange about. … If on the other hand the commodity being exchanged is information, then this is in fact made of meaning; the speaker’s action, and that of the listener if responding to a question, is bound to be a verbal one, because here language is not only the means of carrying out the exchange, it is also the nature of the exchange itself.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Speech Function Choices

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 524):
Grammatically, each time he says a clause, he is not only construing a process but also, unless he makes it logically dependent on another clause, acting out a speech function; and this embodies two simultaneous choices. The speaker is either giving or else requiring the other person to give — i.e. demanding. And the commodity being given or demanded may be either “goods–&–services” or “information”.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Specifying A Network Of Interpretations

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 524):
All dialogue is a process of exchanging meaning, in which the speaker is enacting, at any one time, a particular interpersonal relationship, including his own rôle and the rôle he is assigning to the listener (i.e. he is specifying a network of interpretations for his own and others’ behaviour).

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Speech Functions: Modes Of Action

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 524):
The most immediate way we act, grammatically, is through our choice of speech function. One kind of speech function is a command; this is obviously a way of getting someone to do something, but we tend to think of it as being in this respect untypical. However, all speech functions are modes of action, whether command or offer, question or statement, or any other innumerable combinations or subcategories.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Why We Are Less Aware Of The Interpersonal Metafunction

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 523-4): 
We tend to be less aware of this metafunction of language, at least in more learned contexts; partly because, as adults in a literate culture, we are conditioned to thinking of meaning purely in ideational terms (language as a means of “expressing thought”), and partly because it is less obvious that talking is a way of doing — of acting on others (and through them, on our shared environment) and in the process constructing society. But the interpersonal and the ideational are the two facets of our everchanging social semiotic.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Interpersonal Relationships

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 523): 
When we say that the grammar enacts interpersonal relationships, we mean relationships of all kinds from the transient exchange of speech rôles in temporary transactional encounters … to the enduring familial and other networks that constitute the structure of society.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Metafunctions Related To Microfunctional Dimensions Of Protolanguage

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 523, 525):
If the ideational component is language as a mode of reflection, the interpersonal component is language as a mode of action…If the ideational metafunction is language in its “third person” guise, the interpersonal is language in its “first and second person” guise.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A Language & Its Construction Of Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 523):
In the last resort each language construes experience in its own way — has its own “characterology”, as the Prague linguists expressed it. But every language embodies a working, and workable, schedule of compromises, that taken all together constitute its speakers’ construction of reality.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Why A Grammar Is A Bundle Of Uneasy Compromises

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 522): 
In its ideational metafunction, language construes human experience — the human capacity for experiencing — into a massive powerhouse of meaning. It does so by creating a multidimensional semantic space, highly elastic, in which each vector forms a line of tension (the vectors are what are represented in our system networks as “systems”). Movement within this space sets up complementarities of various kinds: alternative, sometimes contradictory, constructions of experience, indeterminacies, ambiguities and blends, so that a grammar, as a general theory of experience, is a bundle of uneasy compromises. No one dimension of experience is represented in an ideal form, because this would conflict destructively with all the others; instead, each dimension is fudged so that it can co-exist with those that intersect with it.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Reasons For Associated Features: Projection

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 521):
… in a projecting relationship, the two elements in a verbal projection are typically equal in status, while those in a mental projection are typically unequal. This is not surprising: since you can hear what a person says, you give the wording the full status of a direct experience … whereas you cannot observe what a person thinks, so this is more likely to be construed as dependent on the process that projects it …

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Reasons For Associated Features: Expansion

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 521):
In principle, any particular type of expansion or projection can be interpreted in either way, either as “paratactic” or “hypotactic”; but in fact there is some degree of partial association: certain combinations are favoured, and others corresondingly disfavoured. For example, in English, when one process is construed as a simple restatement of, or addition to, another, the two are likely to have equal status; whereas where one is seen as enhancing the other they are usually unequal — a means is secondary to what has been achieved by it, a cause is secondary to its effect.

Friday, 11 March 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 521):
In projection, one process is used to construe another one, such that the latter becomes a representation of what someone says or thinks. The types of process that have this power of projection are the verbal and mental processes … Thus the projection operates at either of the two strata of the content plane: either that of the wording, where the projection is by a verbal process, or at that of the meaning, where it is by a mental process. Because the grammar can project in this way, semiotic events, both those which are externalised as sayings and those which are internalised as thoughts, are brought within the overall domain of the phenomena of experience.

Thursday, 10 March 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520-1):
The third type of expansion is one of enhancing the first process by another one setting up a specific semantic relationship, of which the principal ones are time, cause, condition, concession and means. Here again the grammar deploys a range of different conjunctions, which mark either the enhancing clause (when, because, by, though, if and so on) or the one that is being enhanced (eg then ‘at that time’, then ‘in that case’, so, thus, yet).

Wednesday, 9 March 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520):
The second type of expansion consists in extending one process by construing another one as an addition to it (with ‘and’ as the limiting case); or as an alternative to it, a replacement for it, or as some form of reservation or contrast. Here the grammar typically employs conjunctions, like and, or, but, instead, besides.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520):
Conceptually, perhaps the simplest way of expanding a process is by elaborating on it: saying it over again (or something very like it, with repetition as the limiting case), or else exemplifying it, or clarifying it in some other way. The grammar represents this relationship symbolically in English by prosodic means: the same intonation pattern is repeated … But since this does not appear in writing, various purely written symbols are used instead, typically ie, eg and viz.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Two Kinds Of Logical Relationship

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520):
One is that of “expansion”, in which the two processes are of the same order of experience and the second one is interpreted as in some respect expanding on the first. The other is that of “projection”, in which the second process is construed as belonging to a different order of experience: it is projected, by the first one, on to the semiotic plane. Each of these defines a complex region of semantic space.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Logical Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520):
… the logical system, within the ideational metafunction, engenders a different type of linguistic structure from that of the experiential system. In the logical world, the parts are not constituents of an organic configuration, like the process, participants and circumstances of the clause. They are elements standing to each other in a potentially iterative relationship; and each element represents an entire process.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Logical Relations

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 520):
The changes that constitute our experience are not all independent of one another. On the contrary; our experience is that one thing leads to another, and there is in principle no limit to an experiential chain. But the exact nature of the relationship may vary from one transition to another; so the grammar construes the relationship between processes dyadically, in the form of a nexus between a pair of clauses. The first process may have a second process related to it, by a relationship such as sequence in time, or cause and effect; this in turn may have another one related to it, either by the same relation or a different one — in either case, the relationship is construed as holding between members of a pair.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Logical Metafunction

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 519-20):
Turning now to the logical part of the grammar's ideational resources: this is the part that is concerned not with individual processes but with the relation between one process and another. In calling this "logical" we are using the term in the sense of natural language logic: that is, grammatical logic, not formal logic — although, of course, this is the source from which formal logic is ultimately derived.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Direct And Indirect Participants

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 518-9):
The line between direct and indirect participants is a fuzzy one, and sometimes what seems to be the same rôle in the process can be construed in either way … Here the grammar is in fact using the structural resource of plus or minus preposition to construe a different kind of contrast, having to do with status in the message. But the distinction is significant because, as we saw above, such “circumstantial” elements tend also to function as qualifications not of the process but of some entity that is itself a participant … And since the prepositional phrase has a nominal group inside it, this opens up the possibility of further expansion …. Thus incorporating the circumstantial element into the representation of a participant does not merely add one feature to the specification; it allows more or less indefinite scope, particularly in combination with the incorporation of an entire process. (We have already pointed out that the prepositional phrase is in fact a miniaturised clause; so the two really constitute a single resource, that of using a process to specify a particular class of entity.) This potential was crucial to the development of science and mathematics ….

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Circumstances: Adverbial Groups And Prepositional Phrases

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 518):
The third type of constituent of the clause, referred to above as “others” (that is, elements that are neither verbal nor nominal groups), evolved as the representation of a kind of “third party’ to the process. This may be some qualification of the process in terms of its manner of occurrence (an adverbial group, in the case of English); or it may be an entity that is involved in the process but only indirectly (in English, a prepositional phrase, consisting of preposition plus nominal group).

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Participants: The Expansion Of The Nominal Group

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 518):
The other resource for constructing taxonomies of things is the expansion of the nominal group, and here the picture is very different from that with verbs. Nouns are expanded lexically as well as grammatically, so that, while entities (like processes) are located deictically relative to the ‘here–&–now’, they are also (unlike processes) extensively classified and described. … Thus the grammar has the potential for construing a complex arrangement of classes and subclasses for any entity which participates in a process; or on the other hand, of naming it as an individual, by using a “proper” noun instead of a common one. Proper nouns are already fully specific, and hence seldom expanded experientially (they are often expanded interpersonally!); but common nouns are almost indefinitely expandable, and it is this resource which organises our universe into it elaborate taxonomies of things.