Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Theme In Minor Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
These are clauses with no mood or transitivity structure, typically functioning as calls, greetings, exclamations and alarms, like Mary!, Good night!, Well done! They have no thematic structure either. (In this they resemble an important class of items such as titles and labels — not regarded as clauses because they have no independent speech function.)

Monday, 22 May 2017

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Theme in Embedded Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
These are clauses that function inside the structure of a nominal group, as defining relative clauses, e.g. who came to dinner, the dam broke, requiring travel permits in the man who came to dinner, the day the dam broke, all personnel requiring travel permits. The thematic structure of such clauses is the same as that of dependent clauses. However, because of their downranking, the fact that they do not function as constituents of a sentence [clause], their thematic contribution to the discourse is minimal, and for practical purposes can be ignored.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Theme In Non-Finite Dependent Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
If non-finite, there may be a conjunction or preposition as structural Theme, which may be followed by a Subject as topical Theme; but many non-finite clauses have neither, in which case they consist of Rheme only.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Theme In Finite Dependent Clauses: Concessive Relational Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126n):
With bound intensive relational clauses that are concessive, there is a special thematic option with the topical Theme coming before the binder though, e.g. Achyut Abhyankar << talented though he is >>, should be more restrained in his vocal ‘sangat’; Vicious though she looked || the Contessa was no exception. The clause culminates with the Process, which is thus likely to be the Focus of New information. Contrast: though she looked vicious and vicious though she looked.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Theme In Finite Dependent Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126-7):
If finite, these typically have a conjunction as structural Theme, e.g. because, that, whether, followed by a topical Theme; … If the bound clause begins with a WH- element, on the other hand, that element constitutes the topical Theme … The reason for this, as we have seen, is that the WH- element also has a function in the transitivity structure of the clause.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Method Of Development (Fries 1981)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126):
The significance of these [thematic] patterns emerges when we come to consider the importance of clause theme in the overall development of a text.  By itself the choice of Theme in each particular instance, clause by clause, may seem a fairly haphazard matter; but it is not.  The choice of clause Themes plays a fundamental part in the way discourse is organised; it is this, in fact, that constitutes what has been called the ‘method of development’ of the text (see e.g. Fries, 1981, and contributions to Ghadessy, 1995; and to Hasan & Fries, 1995).  In this process, the main contribution comes from the thematic structure of independent clauses.  But other clauses also come into the picture, and need to be taken account of in Theme–Rheme analysis.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Textual To Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125-6):
However, we have also seen that there is a compensatory principle at work whereby, if what comes first is ‘fixed’ (in the sense that its being first is an essential or at least typical characteristic), then what comes next may retain some thematic flavour. If the initial element is there as the expression not of thematic choice but of some other option in the grammar, then what follows it is also part of the Theme. We have embodied this in a general principle of interpretation whereby the Theme of a clause extends up to the first element that has some representational function in the clause (the ‘topical’ Theme). Hence in a dependent clause such as if winter comes, one part of the Theme is the if, expressing the nature of the clause’s relation to some other clause in the neighbourhood, and the other part is winter, which has a function both in transitivity (as Actor) and in mood (as Subject).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Scale Of Thematic Freedom

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125):
There is thematic structure, in fact, in all major clause types: that is, all clauses expressing mood and transitivity, whether independent or not. But, as we have seen, there is a kind of scale of thematic freedom: whereas in a free declarative clause the speaker has a free choice of Theme — other things being equal he will map it on to the Subject, but this is merely the unmarked option — the further one moves away from this most open-ended form of the clause, the more the thematic options are restricted by structural pressures from other parts of the grammar, pressures that are themselves thematic in origin. In interrogatives and imperatives, and even more strongly in clauses that are not independent, the thematic principle has determined what it is that will be the Theme of the clause, leaving only a highly marked alternative option (as in interrogative) or else no alternative at all.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Theme Predication Vs Postposition: Embedded Fact Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125):
Now, one common type of these clauses is that where the postposed Subject is an embedded ‘fact’ clause. Here the pronoun substitute is always it:
it helps a lot to be able to speak the language
I don’t like it that you always look so tired
So if the postposed fact clause is introduced by that, and the matrix clause has the verb be plus a nominal, the result may look like a predicated Theme; for example:
it was a mistake that the school was closed down
it’s your good luck that nobody noticed
But these are not predicated Themes; the postposed Subject is not a relative clause, and there is no agnate form with the predication removed, proportional to it was his teacher who persuaded him to continue: his teacher persuaded him to continue. The last example is in fact ambiguous, and could be used to illustrate the difference: it’s your good luck (that) nobody noticed
(i) predicated Theme: agnate to
nobody noticed your good luck 
(ii) postposed Subject: agnate to
the fact that nobody noticed was your good luck

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Theme Predication Vs Postposition: Afterthought

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 124):
A structure that can look superficially like Theme predication, but is not, is that involving postposition, where one nominal element of the clause – typically the Subject, though not always — is delayed to the end and the appropriate pronoun is inserted as a substitute in its original slot. This may be a nominal group, as in:
they don’t make sense, these instructions
shall I hang it above the door, your Chinese painting?
in some places they’ve become quite tame, the wombats
Here the Theme is, as usual, the item(s) in first position: they, shall + I, in some places; while the postposed nominal functions as Afterthought, realised prosodically by a second, minor tonic with tone 3:
// 1 ^ they / don’t make / sense these in// 3 structions //

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Predicated Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 123-4):
… the conflation of Theme with New is a regular feature. The sense is of course contrastive, because of the exclusive equation … It is this mapping of New and Theme, in fact, that gives the predicated theme construction its special flavour. …
Since tonic prominence is not marked in writing, the predication has the additional function in written English of directing the reader to interpret the information structure in the intended way.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Commonality Of Thematic Equatives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 122):
This system [THEME PREDICATION] resembles that of THEME IDENTIFICATION, in that it does identify one element as being exclusive at that point in the clause. Both are in fact equative constructions. But there are also differences between the two.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 122n):
Theme predication is often discussed under the heading of ‘cleft sentence’ – a term going back to Jespersen (e.g. 1928: 37, 88–92; 1937: Section 25.4), or ‘it-clefts’ to distinguish them from ‘wh- clefts’ or ‘pseudo-clefts’ (theme identification).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Given + New & Theme + Rheme Structures

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 120):
But both are, of course, speaker-selected.  It is the speaker who assigns both structures, mapping one on to the other to give a composite texture to the discourse and thereby relate it to its environment. At any point in the discourse process, there will have been built up a rich verbal and non-verbal environment for what is to follow; the speaker’s choices are made against the background of what has been said and what has happened before. The environment will often create local conditions which override the globally unmarked pattern of Theme within Given, New within Rheme.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Given + New Vs Theme + Rheme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 120):
But although they are related, Given + New and Theme + Rheme are not the same thing.  The Theme is what I, the speaker, choose to take as my point of departure. The Given is what you, the listener, already know about or have accessible to you. Theme + Rheme is speaker–oriented, whereas Given + New is listener–oriented.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Unmarked Relationship Between Information Structure And Thematic Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 119-20): 
There is a close semantic relationship between the system of INFORMATION and the system of THEME — between information structure and thematic structure. This is reflected in the unmarked relationship between the two. Other things being equal, one information unit is co-extensive with one (ranking) clause (‘unmarked tonality’); and, in that case, the ordering of Given ^ New (‘unmarked tonicity’) means that the Theme falls within the Given, while the New falls within the Rheme.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Inherently Given Elements

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
There are a number of elements in language that are inherently ‘given’ in the sense that they are not interpretable except by reference to some previous mention or some feature of the situation: anaphoric elements (those that refer to things mentioned before) and deictic elements (those that are interpreted by reference to the ‘here-&-now’ of the discourse). Typically these items do not carry information focus; if they do, they are contrastive. So when we say that, for any information unit, the unmarked structure is that with the focus on the final element, this excludes any items that are inherently given.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Given And New [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
The significant variable is: information that is presented by the speaker as recoverable (Given) or not recoverable (New) to the listener. What is treated as recoverable may be so because it has been mentioned before; but that is not the only possibility. It may be something that is in the situation, like I and you; or in the air, so to speak; or something that is not around at all but that the speaker wants to present as Given for rhetorical purposes. The meaning is: this is not news. Likewise, what is treated as non-recoverable may be something that has not been mentioned; but it may be something unexpected, whether previously mentioned or not. The meaning is: attend to this; this is news. One form of ‘newness’ that is frequent in dialogue is contrastive emphasis.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Given Information After The New

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
The unmarked position for the New is at the end of the information unit. But it is possible to have Given material following the New; and any accented matter that follows the tonic foot is thereby signalled as being Given.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Culmination Of New Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
The tonic foot defines the culmination of what is New: it marks where the New element ends. In the typical instance, this will be the last functional element of clause structure in the information unit. As this implies, the typical sequence of informational elements is thus Given followed by New. But whereas the end of the New element is marked by tonic prominence, there is nothing to mark where it begins; so there is indeterminacy in the structure. If we take an instance out of context, we can tell that it culminates with the New; but we cannot tell on phonological grounds whether there is a Given element first, or where the boundary between Given and New would be. (This is not always true.)

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Information Focus

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116): 
Each information unit is realised as a pitch contour, or tone, which may be falling, rising or mixed (falling-rising, rising-falling). This pitch contour extends over the whole tone group. Within the tone group, one foot (and in particular its first syllable) carries the main pitch movement: the main fall, or rise, or the change of direction. This feature is known as tonic prominence, and the element having this prominence is the tonic element (tonic foot, tonic syllable). We indicate tonic prominence by a form of graphic prominence: bold type for print, wavy underlining for manuscript and typescript. The element having this prominence is said to be carrying information focus.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Information Unit Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
In the idealised form each information unit consists of a Given element accompanied by a New element. But there are two conditions of departure from this principle. One is that discourse has to start somewhere, so there can be discourse-initiating units consisting of a New element only. The other is that by its nature the Given is likely to be phoric — referring to something already present in the verbal or non-verbal context; and one way of achieving phoricity is through ellipsis, a grammatical form in which certain features are not realised in the structure. Structurally, therefore, we shall say that an information unit consists of an obligatory New element plus an optional Given. The way this structure is realised is essentially ‘natural’ (non-arbitrary), in two respects:
(i) the New is marked by prominence;
(ii) the Given typically precedes the New.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Grammatical Information Vs Mathematical Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
Information, in this technical grammatical sense, is the tension between what is already known or predictable and what is new or unpredictable. This is different from the mathematical concept of information, which is the measure of unpredictability.  It is the interplay of new and not new that generates information in the linguistic sense. Hence the information unit is a structure made up of two functions, the New and the Given.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Information Unit: Unmarked Vs Marked

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115-6):
An information unit does not correspond exactly to any other unit in the grammar. The nearest grammatical unit is in fact the clause; and we can regard this as the unmarked or default condition: other things being equal, one information unit will be co-extensive with one clause. But other things are often not equal, for reasons that will be brought out in the following sections. Thus a single clause may be mapped into two or more information units; or a single information unit into two or more clauses. Furthermore, the boundaries may overlap, with one information unit covering, say, one clause and half of the next.  So, the information unit has to be set up as a constituent in its own right. At the same time, its relationship to the clausal constituents is by no means random, and instances of overlapping boundaries are clearly ‘marked’; so the two constituent structures, the clausal and the informational, are closely interconnected.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Grammatical Function Of The Tone Group

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115):
… the tone group functions grammatically as realisation of a quantum of information in the discourse. It is this quantum of information that we have called the information unit. Spoken English unfolds as a sequence of information units, typically one following another in unbroken succession – there is no pause or other discontinuity between them.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Information Unit

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115):
[informationis a system not of the clause, but of a separate grammatical unit, the information unit. The information unit is a unit that is parallel to the clause and the other units belonging to the same rank scale as the clause.
  • clause 
  • group/phrase 
  • word 
  • morpheme
Since it is parallel with the clause (and the units the clause consists of), it is variable in extent in relation to the clause and may extend over more than one clause or less than one clause; but in the unmarked case it is co-extensive with the clause.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Managing The Discourse Flow Structurally: Theme & Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114-5):
Below the clause complex, the grammar manages the discourse flow by structural means; and here there are two related systems at work. One is a system of the clause, viz. THEME; this we have been discussing throughout the present chapter so far. The THEME system construes the clause in the guise of a message, made up of Theme + Rheme. The other is the system of INFORMATION.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Resources For Creating Discourse Within The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
These textual resources are of two kinds: (i) structural; (ii) cohesive. What this means is as follows.  The grammar construes structural units up to the rank of the clause complex …; there it stops. But although the grammar stops here, the semantics does not: the basic semantic unit is the text … .  So the grammar provides other, non-structural resources for managing the flow of discourse: for creating semantic links across sentences — or rather, semantic links which work equally well either within or across sentences. These latter are referred to collectively under the name of cohesion

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Textual Component Within The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
… the resource for creating discourse — text that ‘hangs together’, with itself and its context of situation.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Theme + Rheme Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
the Theme + Rheme structure is not so much a configuration of clearly bounded constituents as a movement running through the clause; this is one perspective which it is useful to keep in view.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Deicticity And Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113-4):
The WH- element in turn is part of a wider set embracing both WH- and TH- forms, which taken together fulfil a deictic or ‘pointing out’ function …
The generalisation we can make here is that all deictic elements are characteristically thematic …

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Commonality Of ‘Interrogative’ And ‘Relative’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113):
Thus all WH- groups and phrases have this dual function: on the one hand, as an element in the experiential structure; on the other hand, as marker of some special status of the clause, interrogative (mood) or relative (dependence).  These two values, interrogative and relative, are themselves related at a deeper level, through the general sense of ‘identity to be retrieved from elsewhere’; the ‘indefinite’ ones illustrate a kind of transition between the two …
The category of WH- element opens up this semantic space, of an identity that is being established by interrogation, perhaps with an element of challenge or disbelief; or put aside as irrelevant; or established relative to some other entity.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

WH- Relative Items And Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112n):
The textual Theme of a relative element is inherently thematic; in this respect, it is like other structural Themes – binders and linkers. Consequently, the topical Theme part is also inherently thematic; but since it is inherent, it seems that it leaves some potential for other experiential elements to follow the WH- element, preceding the Finite.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Twofold Thematic Value Of WH- Relative Items

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
Like WH- interrogatives, WH- relatives are also characteristically thematic — the group or phrase in which they occur is the unmarked Theme of a relative clause; and similarly they combine topical with a non-topical function, in this case textual …

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Twofold Thematic Value Of WH- Interrogative Items

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
… they are at the same time both interpersonal and topical — interpersonal because they construe the mood, topical because they represent participant or circumstance.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How To Identify Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
… the Theme of a clause extends from the beginning up to, and including, the first element that has an experiential function — that is either participant, circumstance or process. Everything after that constitutes the Rheme.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Theme Summary

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111-2):
(i) Initial position in the English clause is meaningful in the construction of the clause as message; specifically, it has a thematic function.
(ii) Certain textual elements that orient the clause within the discourse, rhetorically and logically, are inherently thematic.
(iii) Certain other elements, textual and interpersonal, that set up a semantic relation with what precedes, or express the speaker’s angle or intended listener, are characteristically thematic; this includes finite operators, which signal one type of question.
(iv) These inherently and characteristically thematic elements lie outside the experiential structure of the clause; they have no status as participant, circumstance or process.
(v) Until one of these latter appears, the clause lacks an anchorage in the realm of experience; and this is what completes the thematic grounding of the message.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Non-Topical Themes And The Markedness Of Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111):
We could set up a paradigm as follows, showing the effect of different initial selections in the clause:
  1. no non-topical Theme, 
  2. with inherently thematic non-topical Theme,
  3. with characteristically thematic non-topical Theme;
it will be seen that the marked topical Theme becomes as it were more and more marked at each step.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Argument For Thematic Status

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111:
The fact that we do find clauses such as unfortunately protein you can’t store, with marked topical Theme in such an environment, shows that the experiential element following the interpersonal Adjunct still carries thematic status — otherwise there would be no sense in fronting it. This in turn means that an ordinary unmarked Theme under the same conditions is just that — an unmarked topical Theme.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Interpersonal Themes: Characteristically Thematic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
If there is a Vocative in the clause, or a modal or comment Adjunct, it is quite likely to be thematic: these items are characteristic of dialogue, in which the speaker may be calling the attention of the listener, or else expressing his or her own angle on the matter in hand, whether probable, desirable and so on, and hence they tend to be brought in as key signature to the particular move in the exchange – in other words, as Theme of the clause.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Conjunctive Adjuncts: Characteristically Thematic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
The conjunctive Adjuncts (often called ‘discourse Adjuncts’), as noted above, cover roughly the same semantic space as the conjunctions; but whereas conjunctions set up a grammatical (systemic-structural) relationship with another clause, which may be either preceding or following, the relationship established by conjunctive Adjuncts, while semantically cohesive, is not a structural one (hence they can relate only to what has gone before). These Adjuncts often are thematic; but they do not have to be. We may have either therefore the scheme was abandoned, with therefore as textual Theme, or the scheme was therefore abandoned, with therefore falling within the Rheme.  Note how the Theme + Rheme analysis enables us to explain the difference in meaning between pairs of agnate clauses such as these.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Continuatives, Conjunctions And The Quantum Of Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
By the same token, however, since these items are thematic by default, when one of them is present it does not take up the full thematic potential of the clause in which it occurs. What follows it will also have thematic status, almost if not quite as prominently as when nothing else precedes. We can demonstrate this by reference to the concept of ‘marked (topical) Theme’. On the one hand, after a continuative or a conjunction it is still possible to introduce a marked type of topical Theme, either in contrast or as a setting ... On the other hand, such marked Themes appear to be slightly less frequent when there is some inherently thematic item in the clause, suggesting that some of the ‘quantum of thematicity’ has already been taken up.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Inherently Thematic: Continuatives & Conjunctions

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 109):
Those that are inherently thematic are the (textual) continuatives and conjunctions.  As the language evolved, they have, as it were, migrated to the front of the clause and stayed there. Essentially they constitute a setting for the clause (continuative), or else they locate it in a specific logical-semantic relationship to another clause in the neighbourhood (conjunction). In either case, their thematic status comes as part of a package, along with their particular discursive force.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Thematic Function Of Textual And Interpersonal Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 109):
Why do these items favour thematic position in the clause – or, to put the question more meaningfully, why are they associated with thematic function, either characteristically or, in some cases [continuatives and conjunctions], inherently? In the most general sense, they are all natural Themes: if the speaker, or writer, is making explicit the way the clause relates to the surrounding discourse (textual), or projecting his/her own angle on the value of what the clause is saying (interpersonal), it is natural to set up such expressions as the point of departure. The message begins with ‘let me tell you how this fits in’, and/or ‘let me tell you what I think about this’.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Elements Serving As Interpersonal Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 108):
  1. [interpersonal] Vocative. This is any item, typically (but not necessarily) a personal name, being used to address.
  2. [interpersonal] Modal/comment Adjunct. These express the speaker/writer’s judgment on or attitude to the content of the message.
  3. [interpersonal] Finite verbal operator. These are the small set of finite auxiliary verbs construing primary tense or modality; they are the unmarked Theme of yes/no interrogatives.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Elements Serving As Textual Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107-8):
  1. [textual] continuative. A continuative is one of a small set of words that signal a move in the discourse: a response, in dialogue, or a new move to the next point if the same speaker is continuing. The usual continuatives are yes no well oh now.
  2. [textual] conjunction. A conjunction is a word or group that either links (paratactic) or binds (hypotactic) the clause in which it occurs structurally to another clause. Semantically, it sets up a relationship of expansion or projection;
  3. [textual] conjunctive Adjunct (‘discourse Adjunct’). These are adverbial groups or prepositional phrases that relate the clause to the preceding text: they cover roughly the same semantic space as conjunctions.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Interpersonal Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107):
… modal/comment Adjunct ['modal Theme'] … vocative … finite verbal operator [in yes/no interrogative]

Friday, 7 April 2017

Textual Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107): 
… continuative … conjunction ['structural Theme']… conjunctive Adjunct …

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 105):
The guiding principle of thematic structure is this: the Theme contains one, and only one, of these experiential elements. This means that the Theme of a clause ends with the first constituent that is either participant, circumstance or process. We refer to this constituent, in its textual function, as the topical Theme.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Theme, Mood & Markedness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 104-5):
Thus the question which element of the clause is typically chosen as Theme depends on the choice of mood.  The pattern can be summarised as shown in Table 3-2.  When some other element comes first, it constitutes a ‘marked’ choice of Theme; such marked Themes usually either express some kind of setting for the clause or carry a feature of contrast. Note that in such instances the element that would have been the unmarked choice as Theme is now part of the Rheme.

Blogger Comment:

Note that this means that when a clause has a marked Theme, it does not have an unmarked Theme as well.  The misunderstanding that a clause can have both a marked and unmarked Theme — along with many other theoretical misunderstandings — can be traced to Martin (1992).

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Adjunct As Marked Theme In Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103, 104):
Imperative clauses may have a marked Theme, as when a locative Adjunct is thematic in a clause giving directions … The adjunct part of a phrasal verb may serve as marked Theme in an imperative clause with an explicit Subject, as in Up you get! … .

Monday, 3 April 2017

Predicator As Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
The imperative is the only type of clause in which the Predicator (the verb) is regularly found as Theme. This is not impossible in other moods … but in such clauses it is the most highly marked choice of all.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Unmarked & Marked Theme In Negative & Positive Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… the principle is the same as with yes/no interrogatives: the unmarked Theme is don’t plus the following element, either Subject or Predicator. Again there is a marked form with you, … where the Theme is don’t you. There is also a marked contrastive form of the positive, … where the Theme is do plus the Predicator … .

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Unmarked Theme In ‘You’ Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… although the ‘you’ can be made explicit as a Theme … this is clearly a marked choice; the more typical form is … with the verb in thematic position. … here, therefore, it is the Predicator that is the unmarked Theme.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Unmarked Theme In ‘You-&-Me’ Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… here, let’s is clearly the unmarked choice of Theme.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Interrogative Themes & Markedness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
Thus in both kinds of interrogative clause the choice of a typical ‘unmarked’ thematic pattern is clearly motivated, since this pattern has evolved as the means of carrying the basic message of the clause. Hence there is a strong tendency for the speaker to choose the unmarked form, and not to override it by introducing a marked Theme out in front. But marked Themes do sometimes occur in interrogatives.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Thematic WH- Elements Not Directly Part Of The Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 102):
If the WH- word is, or is part of, a nominal group functioning as Complement in a prepositional phrase, this nominal group may function as Theme on its own, e.g. what in what shall I mend it with?, which house in which house do they live in? If the WH- element serves in a projected clause, it may serve as the Theme of the projecting clause, as in Who do you think pays the rent?, which is the interrogative version of you think somebody pays the rent.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Interrogative Clause Structure Embodies The Thematic Principle

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101-2):
Interrogative clauses, therefore, embody the thematic principle in their structural make-up. It is characteristic of an interrogative clause in English that one particular element comes first; and the reason for this is that that element, owing to the very nature of a question, has the status of a Theme. The speaker is not making an instantial choice to put this element first; its occurrence in first position is the regular pattern by which the interrogative is expressed. It has become part of the system of the language, and the explanation for this lies in the thematic significance that is attached to first position in the English clause. Interrogatives express questions; the natural theme of a question is ‘I want to be told something’; the answer required is either a piece of information about an element of the clause or an indication of polarity. So the realisation of interrogative mood involves selecting an element that indicates the kind of answer required, and putting it at the beginning of the clause.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Theme In WH- Interrogative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101):
In a WH- interrogative, which is a search for a missing piece of information, the element that functions as Theme is the element that requests this information, namely the WH- element.  It is the WH- element that expresses the nature of the missing piece: who, what, when, how, etc. So in a WH- interrogative the WH- element is put first no matter what other function it has in the mood structure of the clause, whether Subject, Adjunct or Complement. The meaning is ‘I want you to tell me the person, thing, time, manner, etc.’.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Theme In Polar Interrogative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101, 102):
In a yes/no interrogative, which is a question about polarity, the element that functions as Theme is the element that embodies the expression of polarity, namely the Finite verbal operator. … but, since that is not an element in the experiential structure of the clause, the Theme extends over the following Subject as well.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Theme In Exclamative Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101):
There is one sub-category of declarative clause that has a special thematic structure, namely the exclamative. These typically have an exclamatory WH-element as Theme … .

Friday, 24 March 2017

A General Principle Of Marking

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 100):
… while a given term may be marked globally in the language, it may be locally unmarked because it is motivated by register-specific considerations.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The ‘Most Marked’ Type Of Theme In A Declarative Clause: Complement

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 99):
The ‘most marked’ type of Theme in a declarative clause is thus a Complement: for example this responsibility in this responsibility we accept wholly. This is a nominal element that, being nominal, has the potentiality of being Subject; which has not been selected as Subject; and which nevertheless has been made thematic. Since it could have been Subject, and therefore unmarked Theme, there must be very good reason for making it a thematic Complement – it is being explicitly foregrounded as the Theme of the clause.* 
* It is also likely to be given the status of New information within its own unit of information. At the same time, some element other than the Complement will be a candidate for the status of New within the Rheme of the clause, as in this they should refuse.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Negative Adjunct Or Complement As Theme —> Finite^Subject

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 98-9):
Marked Adjunct and Complement Themes are followed by the Subject in Modern English — a[n] historical departure from the general principle in Germanic languages that the Theme is followed by, and thus marked off by, the Finite in a declarative clause. The general exception to this departure in Modern English is a clausal negative item as Theme — an Adjunct or Complement with a negative feature that pertains to the clause.*  Such negative Themes are followed by the Finite.

* This applies to circumstantial Adjuncts with a negative feature, e.g. nowhere as a locative Adjunct; and it also applies to modal Adjuncts with a negative (or quasi-negative) feature, e.g. never, hardly.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Marked Themes In Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 98, 100):
A Theme that is something other than the Subject, in a declarative clause, we shall refer to as a marked Theme. The most usual form of marked Theme is an adverbial group … or prepositional phrase … functioning as Adjunct in the clause. Least likely to be thematic is a Complement, which is a nominal group that is not functioning as Subject — something that could have been a Subject but is not … . Sometimes even the Complement from within a prepositional phrase functions as Theme … .

Monday, 20 March 2017

Unmarked Theme In Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
In a declarative clause, the typical pattern is one in which Theme is conflated with Subject; … We shall refer to the mapping of Theme on to Subject as the unmarked Theme of a declarative clause. The Subject is the element that is chosen as Theme unless there is good reason for choosing something else.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Mood Selection

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
Every free clause selects for mood. … A free major clause is either indicative (giving or demanding information) or imperative (demanding goods-&-services) in mood; if indicative, it is either declarative (giving information) or interrogative (demanding information); if interrogative, it is either ‘yes/no’ interrogative or ‘WH-’ interrogative.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Mood: The Major Interpersonal System Of The Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
MOOD is the major interpersonal system of the clause; it provides interactants involved in dialogue with the resources for giving or demanding a commodity, either information or goods-&-services – in other words, with the resources for enacting speech functions (speech acts) through the grammar of the clause: statements (giving information), questions (demanding information), offers (giving goods-&-services), and commands (demanding goods-&-services).

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Meaning Of Thematic Equatives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 95):
The thematic equative actually realises two distinct semantic features, which happen to correspond to the two senses of the word identify. On the one hand, it identifies (specifies) what the Theme is; on the other hand, it identifies it (equates it) with the Rheme. The second of these features adds a semantic component of exclusiveness: the meaning is ‘this and this alone’.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thematic Equatives: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 93, 95): 
In a thematic equative, all the elements of the clause are organised into two constituents; these two are then linked by a relationship of identity, a kind of ‘equals sign’, expressed by some form of the verb be. …
A thematic equative (… a ‘pseudo-cleft sentence’ …) is an identifying clause which has a thematic nominalisation in it. Its function is to express the Theme–Rheme structure in such a way as to allow for the Theme to consist of any subset of the elements of the clause. This is the explanation for the evolution of clauses of this type: they have evolved, in English, as a thematic resource, enabling the message to be structured in whatever way the speaker or writer wants.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Theme–Rheme & Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 92):
… if a clause is organised into two information units, the boundary between the two is overwhelmingly likely to coincide with the junction of Theme and Rheme.

Blogger Comment:

This might be true if we ignore conjunctive Adjuncts as textual Themes and comment Adjuncts as interpersonal Themes:
// However // information boundaries are highly likely between textual and experiential Themes //
// Actually // information boundaries are highly likely between interpersonal and experiential Themes //

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Theme–Rheme Vs Topic–Comment

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 89n):
Some grammarians have used the terms Topic and Comment instead of Theme and Rheme. But the Topic–Comment terminology carries rather different connotations. The label ‘Topic’ usually refers to only one particular kind of Theme, the ‘topical Theme’; and it tends to be used as a cover term for two concepts that are functionally distinct, one being that of Theme and the other being that of Given. It seems preferable to retain the earlier terminology of Theme–Rheme.  In the generative linguistic literature, Gruber (1976: 38) introduced the term ‘theme’ in an experiential (rather than textual) sense for a kind of participant role, a ‘theta role’ in generative terms. In work drawing on Fillmore’s (1968) ‘case grammar’, the term ‘theme’ has also been used as a label for deep case, or semantic case. In a different context, ‘theme’ is also used as the name of a stratum in verbal art: see Hasan (1985b: 96).

Monday, 13 March 2017

Theme: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 89):
The Theme is the element which serves as the point of departure of the message; it is that which locates and orients the clause within its context.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Clause As Message

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 88):
The structure which carries this line of meaning is known as thematic structure. … a form of organisation whereby it fits in with, and contributes to, the flow of discourse.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Clause As Three Meanings Realised In One Wording

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 88):
… we introduced the notion of a clause as a unit in which meanings of three different kinds are combined. Three distinct structures, each expressing one kind of semantic organisation, are mapped on to one another to produce a single wording.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Constituency: Simplest & Prototypical Type Of Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 85):
It is the segmental kind of structure, with clearly separated constituent parts organised into a whole, that has traditionally been taken as the norm in descriptions of grammar; the very concept of ‘structure’, in language, has been defined in constituency terms. This is partly because of the kind of meaning that is expressed in this way: experiential meaning has been much more fully described than meaning of the other kinds. But there is also another reason, which is that constituency is the simplest kind of structure, from which the other, more complex kinds can be derived; it is the natural one to take as prototypical — in the same way as digital systems are taken as the norm from which analogue systems can be derived, rather than the other way round.

Blogger Comment:


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Discreteness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of discreteness means that each structural unit has clearly defined boundaries. But while this kind of segmental organisation is characteristic of the clause as representation, the clause in its other guises – as message, and as exchange – departs from this prototype. In its status as an exchange, the clause depends on prosodic features — continuous forms of expression, often with indeterminate boundaries; while in its status as message it tends to favour culminative patterns — peaks of prominence located at beginnings and endings.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Hierarchy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of hierarchy means that an element of any given rank is constructed out of elements of the rank next below. This is a feature of the constituent hierarchy made up of units and their classes: clause, verbal group, and so on. But the configurations of structural functions show further ramifications of this general pattern. Thus, in the clause as exchange there is slightly more layering in the structure, while in the clause as message there is rather less.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Exhaustiveness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of exhaustiveness means that everything in the wording has some function at every rank. But not everything has a function in every dimension of structure; for example, some parts of the clause (e.g. interpersonal Adjuncts such as perhaps and textual Adjuncts such as however) play no rôle in the clause as representation.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
So far, we have referred to constituent structure as if it was something uniform and homogeneous; but as we embark on the detailed analysis of clause structures this picture will need to be modified. The model of constituent structure that we presented — the rank scale — is the prototype to which all three metafunctions can be referred. But the actual forms of structural organisation depart from this prototype, each of them in different ways.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Metafunction: One Of The Basic Concepts Of SFL Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
… these three kinds of meaning run throughout the whole of language, and in a fundamental respect they determine the way language has evolved.  They are referred to in systemic accounts of grammar as metafunctions, and the concept of ‘metafunction’ is one of the basic concepts around which the theory is constructed.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Significance Of Functional Labels: Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83-4):
The significance of any functional label lies in its relationship to the other functions with which it is structurally associated. It is the structure as a whole, the total configuration of functions, that construes, or realises, the meaning. … It is the relation among all these [functions] that constitutes the structure.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Structure Vs Syntagm

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
… Actor + Process + Goal. A configuration of this kind is what is referred to in functional grammars as a structure (as opposed to a syntagm of classes).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Clause As Representation: Actor [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as a representation of some process in ongoing human experience; the Actor is the active participant in that process. It is the element the speaker portrays as the one that does the deed.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Clause As Exchange: Subject [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as an exchange, a transaction between speaker and listener; the Subject is the warranty of the exchange. It is the element the speaker makes responsible for the validity of what he is saying.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Clause As Message: Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as a message, a quantum of information; the Theme is the point of departure for the message. It is the element the speaker selects for ‘grounding’ what he is going on to say.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Typical Unmarked Form [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 82):
That is the form we tend to use if there is no prior context leading up to it, and no positive reason for choosing anything else.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Traditional “Subjects” Differentiated By Metafunction

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 80):
psychological Subject: Theme
grammatical Subject: Subject
logical Subject: Actor

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Class & Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 76):
The class of an item indicates in a general way its potential range of grammatical functions. … But the class label does not show what part the item is playing in any actual structure. For that we have to indicate its function. The functional categories provide an interpretation of grammatical structure in terms of the overall meaning potential of the language … .

Friday, 24 February 2017

Group, Phrase & Clause Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 76):
We shall also refer to three classes of group: verbal group, nominal group, adverbial group (also preposition group and conjunction group); and to one class of phrase: prepositional phrase. … We shall not need to discuss clause classes explicitly, although they are in fact present as part of the overall description, as in the distinction between major and minor clauses and within major clauses between free and bound clauses.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
Word classes were traditionally called ‘parts of speech’, through mistranslation of the Greek term meroi logou, which actually meant ‘parts of a sentence’. These began, with the Sophists, as functional concepts, rather close to Theme and Rheme; but they were progressively elaborated into, and replaced by, a scheme of word classes, defined by the kinds of inflection that different words underwent in Greek … .

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Grammatical Class

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
A class is a set of items that are in some respect alike. The most familiar, in our traditional grammar, are classes of words: verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction (and sometimes also interjection), in the usual list. But every unit can be classified: there are classes of group and phrase, classes of clause, and, at the other end of the rank scale, classes of morpheme.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Why The Clause Is Significant

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
The clause, as we said, is the mainspring of grammatical energy; it is the unit where meanings of different kinds, experiential, interpersonal and textual, are integrated into a single syntagm.

Monday, 20 February 2017

What Grammarians Do

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
What grammarians do … is to construct an abstract model of the system of language, based on observation of language instantiated in use.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Evolution Of Language Involves Gradual Changes In Probabilities

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73-4):
If we include probabilistic information in the description of the lexicogrammar, we also pave the way for interpreting the system as one that is always in the process of becoming, not one that is in a frozen state of being: the evolution of language involves gradual changes in probabilities, over long periods of time but also over much shorter periods.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The System Of Lexicogrammar Is Probabilistic In Nature

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73):
Variation in lexicogrammar across varieties of English is, of course, not only qualitative but also quantitative; the system of lexicogrammar is probabilistic in nature, and probabilities vary across varieties of English – dialectal, codal and registerial varieties.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Dialectal, Codal and Registerial Variation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73):
In general, like any other language, English needs to be interpreted and described as an assemblage of varieties — varieties that are differentiated along different dimensions, with fuzzy boundaries. Thus, English is subject to dialectal, codal and registerial variation, each type of variation having a different locus within the strata of the language and covering a different range along the cline of instantiation.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Language As The Outcome Of Ongoing Grammaticalisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68-9):
So when we talk of the ‘system’ of language, as the underlying potential that is instantiated in the form of text, we are in effect theorising a language as the outcome of ongoing grammaticalisation in all these three dimensions of time [phylogenetic, ontogenetic, logogenetic].

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Three Timescales Of Grammaticalisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
Nevertheless we can recognise grammaticalisation as a process taking place in time – in fact, in three distinct dimensions of time.
(i) We can see it in ontogenetic time when we observe children’s early language development, which is built around the creation of proto-grammatical and then grammatical systems. 
(ii) We cannot observe it directly in phylogenetic time, the evolution of human language; but we can track examples in the history of particular languages (for example, secondary tenses and the passive voice in English. 
(iii) We can see it in logogenetic time, the unfolding of discourse, when a passage of some extent – a clause or more – is recapitulated in a single word or group.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Term ‘Grammaticalisation’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
A systemic grammar is one that is organised around this concept of grammaticalisation, whereby meaning is construed in networks of interrelated contrasts.  The term ‘grammaticalisation’ itself, however, is problematic; it foregrounds the sense of ‘process’ — something being turned into a grammatical system, and this obscures the point that it is the inherent nature of language to be organised in grammatical systems.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Grammaticalisation: Realisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
Grammaticalisation is not dependent on how the categories are realised. They may be realised in a variety of ways: 
  • a change in the form, articulatory or prosodic, of some word or words; 
  • an addition of some element, to a word, a group or a clause; 
  • a change in the order of words, groups, or clauses. 
The realisation may not be the same for all categories or in all environments; but it will be systematic in some way in the majority of cases, enough to establish and maintain the proportionality – with only a minority of ‘exceptions’ (which are likely to include some of the more frequent items).

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Three Properties That Characterise 'Grammaticalised' Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
If a meaning is ‘grammaticalised’, this means that it is organised in the language
(i) as a closed system of mutually exclusive terms [closure],
(ii) associated with some general category [generality], and
(iii) displaying proportionality throughout [proportionality].

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Lexical–Grammatical Complementarity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 67):
… even in a general account of the grammar it is important to maintain a comprehensive picture that will show the relation between choice of words (lexical items) and choice of grammatical categories — especially in view of the complementarity between these two.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Why The Grammar Description Hasn’t Been Elaborated To Maximum Delicacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 67):
If we maintain the grammarian’s viewpoint all the way across the cline, lexis will be defined as grammar extended to the point of maximum delicacy.  It would take at least 100 volumes of the present size to extend the description of the grammar up to that point for any substantial portion of the vocabulary.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Between Grammar & Lexis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 66):
But if grammar and lexis are interpreted as the endpoints of a continuum, what lies in between them, around the middle? It is here that we locate those items that, on the paradigmatic axis, enter into series which could be regarded from both angles of vision: either, in a grammatical perspective, as rather large and fuzzy closed systems or, in a lexical perspective, as somewhat determinate and limited open sets. This would include, in English, things like prepositions, temporal and other specialised adverbs, and conjunctions of various kinds.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Logogenesis [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 63):
As the text unfolds, patterns emerge, some of which acquire added value through resonating with other patterns in the text or in the context of situation. The text itself is an instance; the resonance is possible because behind it lies the potential that informs every choice made by the speaker or writer, and in terms of which these choices are interpreted by listeners and readers. We refer to this ongoing creation of meaning in the unfolding of text as logogenesis.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Syntagm [Defined] Realises Structure [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 39):
Such a sequence of classes is called a ‘syntagm’. … The significance of such a syntagm is that here it is the realisation of a structure: an organic configuration of elements, which we analyse in functional terms.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Word Classes Viewed 'From Above' & 'From Roundabout'

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 59):
Word classes can be viewed ‘from above’ — that is, semantically: verbs typically refer to processes, nouns to entities and adjectives to qualities (of entities or of processes). They can also be viewed ‘from round about’, at their own level, in terms of the relations into which they enter: paradigmatic relations (the options that are open to them) and syntagmatic relations (the company they keep). On either of these two axes we can establish relationships of a lexical kind (collocations and sets) and of a grammatical kind (structures and systems).

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The SFL Description Of English Grammar Is Designed For Text Analysis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 57):
The description of English grammar presented here is not designed as a reference grammar. However, unlike the recent reference grammars — or all previous ones for that matter, this description has been designed as one that can be used in text analysis — a task that imposes quite stringent demands on the description.

Blogger Comment:

Cf the (self-promoting) misrepresentation of Systemic Functional grammar (and grammarians) by Martin & Rose in Working With Discourse: Meaning Beyond The Clause (2007: 1, 4):
In this book we are concerned with interpreting discourse by analysing it. For us this means treating discourse as more than words in clauses; we want to focus on meaning beyond the clause, on semantic resources that lead us from one clause to another as a text unfolds. … In a sense then this book is an invitation to grammarians to reconsider meaning in the clause from the perspective of meaning in texts; …
Grammarians are particularly interested in types of clauses and their elements. But texts are usually bigger than single clauses, so a discourse analyst has more to worry about than a grammarian (expanded horizons).
Critiques of these and other misrepresentations can be found at the blog working with discourse.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Systemic Functional Grammar In Relation To Other Accounts Of Grammar: Description

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 56-7):
This introduction to (systemic) functional grammar differs in various ways from other accounts — in terms of both theory and description. … (ii) In terms of description, this book is of course an introduction to a systemic functional description of the grammar of English — constituting one descriptive strand evolving among other ones in systemic functional linguistics. This description may be compared with other descriptions of the grammar of English that have appeared over the past 500 years or so. These descriptions naturally vary in many ways, e.g. 
  • relationship to theory (homogenous or heterogeneous [‘eclectic’]), 
  • relationship to corpus, relationship to time (diachronic vs. synchronic, or some kind of synthesis), 
  • relationship to dialectal variation (what varieties of English are included), 
  • coverage of phenomena — from grammars of very selective coverage via grammars with a registerial focus (such as grammars of spoken English) to reference grammars, and 
  • relationship to intended users — ranging from language learners to professional grammarians.
Reference grammars are, in principle, the most comprehensive descriptions.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Systemic Functional Grammar In Relation To Other Accounts Of Grammar: Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 56):
This introduction to (systemic) functional grammar differs in various ways from other accounts – in terms of both theory and description. (i) In terms of theory, we can locate systemic functional theory of grammar within a general family of functional theories of grammar, contrasting these with formal theories of grammar. Within the family of functional theories, systemic functional theory is unique in its paradigmatic orientation – its orientation to grammar as system, represented by means of system networks; other functional theories are syntagmatic in their orientation. Systemic functional theory also differs from many other functional theories in its emphasis on comprehensive, text-based descriptions – descriptions that can be used in text analysis; other functional theories have tended to foreground linguistic comparison and typology based on descriptive fragments from a wide range of languages.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Description Of The System Of MOOD Is Specific To English

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55-6):
However, this theoretical template does not include details that are specific to particular languages or even to large sets of languages. For instance, the description of the system of MOOD is specific to English: according to this description, there is a system of INDICATIVE TYPE, with ‘indicative’ as its entry condition and ‘declarative’ and ‘interrogative’ as its two terms, and the term ‘declarative’ is realised by the sequence of Subject followed by Finite. This description is grounded in generalisations about English data, i.e. spoken and written texts; and all descriptions must be based on empirical evidence. … Typological generalisations are both possible and desirable, serving many purposes; but they are still grounded in empirical evidence, not based on theoretical hypotheses.