Thursday, 31 January 2019

Classifier: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 377):
The Classifier indicates a particular subclass of the thing in question, e.g. electric trains, passenger trains, toy trains. Sometimes the same word may function either as Epithet or as Classifier, with a difference in meaning: e.g. fast trains may mean either ‘trains that go fast’ (fast = Epithet) or ‘trains classified as expresses’ (fast = Classifier).

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Interpersonal Epithets: Reflections In The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 377):
Interpersonal Epithets also tend to be reinforced by other words, or other features, all contributing to the same meaning: synonyms … , intensifiers, swear–words, particular intonation contours, voice quality features and the like.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Adjectives Of Interpersonal Quality: Epithet Vs Post–Deictic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 377):
As we have seen, many of them may also occur as post-Deictic; in that case their deictic function consists rather in referring to, or even in constructing, an occasion of shared experience as in a miserable few dishes of peanuts. But whereas with adjectives of experiential quality the difference between Epithet and post–Deictic is rather clear (e.g. the three famous musketeers, the famous three musketeers), with the interpersonal ones the difference is much less, and there is no sense of ambiguity in the meaning (contrast those lovely two evenings in Bali and those two lovely evenings in Bali).

Monday, 28 January 2019

Experiential Vs Interpersonal Epithet: Reflections In The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 376-7):
The principal difference is that experiential Epithets are potentially defining, whereas interpersonal ones are not. … Even in the superlative …
Note that, in general, the same word may act as either experiential or interpersonal Epithet … there are very few words that serve only an attitudinal function.
Interpersonal Epithets tend to precede experiential ones.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Epithet: Experiential vs Attitudinal

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 376):
The Epithet indicates some quality of the subset, e.g. old, long, blue, fast; since qualities are denoted by adjectives, Epithets are often realised by adjectives. … (i) The quality of the subset may be an objective property of the thing itself, construed as a depiction of the experience of the entity that it represents; or (ii) it may be an expression of the speaker’s subjective attitude towards it, e.g. splendid, silly, fantastic. We refer to these as (i) experiential Epithets and (ii) interpersonal, or attitudinal Epithets, respectively. … 
There is no hard and fast line between these two; but the former are experiential in function, whereas the latter, expressing the speaker’s attitude, represent an interpersonal element in the meaning of the nominal group (thus contributing to appraisal, in the sense of Martin & White, 2005).

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Incongruent Nominal Groups: Conjunctive Adjunct As Numerative

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 375):
In an incongruent nominal group that stands as a metaphoric variant of a clause, the Numerative may correspond to a conjunction; for example, subsequent jungle travel can be reworded as a congruent clause: subsequently it travelled through the jungle.

Friday, 25 January 2019


Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 375):
An inexact Numerative expression may be exact in the context; for example, just as many trains (‘as mentioned before’), the next train (‘from now on’). On the other hand, an exact Numerative expression may be made inexact by submodification, as in about ten trains, almost the last train.

Thursday, 24 January 2019


Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 375, 380-1):
The ordering Numeratives (or ‘ordinatives’) specify either an exact place in order (ordinal numerals, e.g. the second train) or an inexact place (e.g. a subsequent train). …
An ordinal is a kind of superlative cardinal: third = ‘three-est’; that is, identified by being at number three.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019


Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 375):
The quantifying Numeratives (or ‘quantitatives’) specify either an exact number (cardinal numerals e.g. two trains) or an inexact number (e.g. many trains, lots of trains).

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Numerative: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 374-5):
The Numerative element indicates some numerical feature of the particular subset of the Thing: either quantity or order, either exact or inexact. Items serving as Numerative are exemplified in Table 6-9. 

Monday, 21 January 2019

Post–Deictics: Space–Time

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 374):
Post–Deictic items referring to space–time [e.g. above, aforementioned, earlier, preceding; subsequent, future] may alternatively be interpreted as a type of Numerative expressing place in order.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Incongruent Nominal Groups: Interpersonal Adjunct As Post-Deictic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 374):
In an incongruent nominal group, the post-Deictic may correspond to an interpersonal Adjunct in the related congruent clause. For example, in
Immediately, the religious groups of the city were embroiled in an angry dispute over the alleged invasion of a man’s right to freedom of religious belief and conscience.
the incongruent nominal group the alleged invasion of a man’s right to freedom of religious belief and conscience corresponds to the more congruent clause allegedly a man’s right ... was invaded, where allegedly serves as a comment Adjunct.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Attitudinal Post–Deictics

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 373):
Also found in the post–Deictic position in the nominal group are words expressing the speaker’s attitude (to the thing, or else to the world in general), such as wretched, miserable, lovely, splendid, as in those lovely two evenings in Bali. …

The attitude may be focused on the number represented by the Numerative (with a singular determiner a(n) as Deictic and a plural noun as Thing):
For a lousy two weeks in New Jersey, you’ll make a shitload of dough.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Post–Deictics: Realisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 373-4):
These can be interpreted in terms of (1) the categories of expansion and (2) the categories of projection. The words occurring as post–Deictic are adjectives, and may also occur in the function of Epithet but with a different sense; those that frequently occur as post-Deictic are shown in Table 6-8.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Post–Deictic [Function]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 373):
In addition to the Deictic element we have just discussed, there may be a second Deictic element in the nominal group, one which adds further to the identification of the subset in question. We will refer to these as post-Deictic or Deictic₂. 
The post–Deictic identifies a subset of the class of ‘thing’ by referring to its fame or familiarity, its status in the text, or its similarity/dissimilarity to some other designated subset.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Deixis Of Nominal Groups Denoting A Class

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 370-1):
In contrast, when a nominal group refers to a class, the use of determiners as Deictic is more constrained. For example, while this dying elephant and this elephant are both possible as anaphoric references to a particular member of the class of elephant, only the elephant would normally be possible as a reference to the general class of elephants. In addition, certain options that are quite distinct as references to members of a class are much closer in meaning as references to the class itself; these are marked [1], [2] and [3] in Table 6-7.

Blogger Comment:

Note that Matthiessen here again follows Martin (1992) in blurring the distinction between reference in the sense of ideational denotation and reference in the sense of textual cohesionNominal groups  can denote classes or their members (ideational metafunction); in anaphoric reference, a reference item refers to a referent, creating cohesion (textual metafunction).

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Deixis Of Nominal Groups Denoting A Member Of A Class

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 369-70):
When a given nominal group refers to a member or members of a class – i.e. to a particular thing or set of things, the full ranges of specific and non-specific determiners can serve as Deictic and the values within the specific and non-specific number systems are quite distinct. Thus, when they refer to members of the class of elephant, an elephant, the elephants and elephants are not interchangeable; for example:
After four months, on New Year’s Eve, Russell reportedly proposed while on an elephant in India. 
Do you suppose I’m going to find an elephant walking about the streets of London? 
An African elephant lay dying alongside a well-traveled trail. Researchers noted that 38 elephants made a total of 56 visits to the dying elephant – including six visits by her mother and sister. After the elephant died, 54 individuals made 73 visits to her corpse – none by her mother and sister.
Here we could not replace an elephant in Russell reportedly proposed while on an elephant in India with the elephant or elephants. These alternatives would have quite different meanings. Typically, the member of a class is introduced by a non-specific reference, e.g. an African elephant, and once it has been introduced into the discourse, it is referred to again anaphorically by specific nominal groups, as with the dying elephant, the elephant (or, pronominally, it).

Blogger Comments:

Note that Matthiessen is using 'refer' here in two distinct senses: ideational denotation and textual reference, without acknowledging the distinction.  This is not helpful, given the confusion of the two senses in Martin (1992).

To be clear, the determiner an in an African elephant realises non-specific deixis, not non-specific reference (the).  The indefinite article is not a reference item (Halliday 1985: 295; Halliday 1994: 313; Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 556; Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 629).  In confusing deixis with reference, Matthiessen is following Martin (1992).

Monday, 14 January 2019

Determination: Number, Non-Specific vs Specific, Particular vs General

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 369-70):
The two different number systems operating with specific and non-specific determination apply to all nominal groups, but the typical range of determiners and the semantic patterns of agnation depend on whether a given nominal group refers to 
(i) a member or members of a class (particular reference) or to 
(ii) to a class to which members belong (general, or ‘generic’, reference): see Table 6-7.

Blogger Comment:

Note that this is 'reference' in the sense of ideational denotation, not in the sense of cohesion — nominal groups don't refer in the cohesive sense.  Matthiessen here risks imparting the same confusion found in Martin's (1992) model of IDENTIFICATION (reference as semantic choice).

Sunday, 13 January 2019

No Deictic Element In A Nominal Group [System Value Realised By Absent Structural Token]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 369):
If there is no Deictic element, the nominal group is non-specific and, within that, non-singular.*  In other words, a nominal group may have no Deictic element in its structure, but this does not mean it has no value in the Deictic system — simply that the value selected is realised by a form having no Deictic in the expression.

* The forms trains and some trains, as in there are (some) trains on the track, are not in fact identical. But the distinction is a more delicate one, and for the purpose of this analysis they will be treated as variant expressions of the same category.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Deictic Type & Number System Type

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 369):
It should be pointed out here that there are two different systems of number in the English nominal group, one associated with each of the two kinds of Deictics.
  • (i) With specific Deictics, the number system is ‘non-plural/plural’; mass nouns are grouped together with singular, in a category of ‘non-plural’. So this, that go with non-plural (singular or mass), these, those with plural, as in Table 6-5.
  • (ii) With non-specific Deictics, the system is ‘singular/non-singular’; mass nouns are grouped together with plural, in a category of non-singular. So a, an goes with singular, weak some with non-singular (mass or plural), as in Table 6-6.

Friday, 11 January 2019

The Definite & Indefinite Articles

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 368-9):
Thus the so-called ‘articles’ of English, ‘definite article’ the and ‘indefinite article’ a(n), are determiners realising terms in, respectively, the specific and non-specific systems of nominal deixis. They enter into a proportional pattern as follows: see Table 6-4.
Historically the and a(n) are reduced forms of (respectively) that and one; it is also a reduced form of that (but preserving the final part, since it functions as Head, where the preserves the initial part). there is a reduced form of locative there.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Selective Vs Non-Selective 'Some'

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 368):
Note that there are two different types of some, one selective and one non-selective. The selective some contrasts with any, and is pronounced some [s^m]. The non-selective some is reduced in spoken form, being pronounced [sm], with a syllabic m ; the limiting case of phonological reduction is absence, and [sm] does indeed alternate with the absence of a determiner (Ø). Thus in George Orwell’s All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others, the determiner all is a positive total Deictic, whereas the determiner some [s^m] is a selective partial Deictic.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Non–Specific Deictics: Total Or Partial Determiners

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 368):
Non-specific Deictics are given in Table 6-3; they are total or partial determiners. The total ones convey the sense of ‘all’ (positive) or ‘none’ (negative), and the partial ones convey the sense of some unspecified subset; for example, both trains have left, is there a train leaving soon?, there are some trains on the track, some trains are very comfortable, I haven’t noticed any trains go by

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Possessive Deictic In Incongruent Nominal Groups

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 367):
In an incongruent nominal group that corresponds to a congruent clause, a possessive Deictic may correspond to one of the participants in the transitivity structure of the clause, e.g.:
The Minister’s decision follows his efforts to mediate since the board decided to sack the matron several weeks ago. 
For 26 years journalists have followed John Paul II’s every move. His world travels, his Sunday blessings, his creation of cardinals and saints, and now his every sneeze.
or even (more restrictedly) to one of the circumstances, e.g.:
Yesterday’s decision by the Arbitration Commission effectively said ‘no’ to ordering employers to pay into superannuation schemes. 
At today’s official fixing by the five leading dealers, it was cut by 2s. 4d. per fine ounce – the lowest point for six weeks.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Specific Deictics: The

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 367):
The word the is a specific, determinative Deictic of a peculiar kind: it means ‘the subset in question is identifiable; but this will not tell you how to identify it — the information is somewhere around, where you can recover it’. … Hence the is usually accompanied by some other element which supplies the information required; … If there is no such information supplied, the subset in question will either be obvious from the situation, or else will have been referred to already in the discourse …

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Orientation Of Demonstrative & Possessive Specific Deictics

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 314):
The two are closely related, both being (as indicated by the term ‘deixis’) a form of orientation by reference to the speaker — or more accurately, to the ‘speaker–now’, the temporal–modal complex that constitutes the point of reference of the speech event.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Specific Deictics: Demonstrative Vs Possessive

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 365-7):
The specific Deictics … are demonstrative or possessive determiners, or embedded possessive nominal groups. The sub-set in question is specified by one of two possible deictic features: either (i) demonstratively, that is, by reference to some kind of proximity to the speaker … or (ii) by possession, that is, by reference to person as defined from the standpoint of the speaker … together with the possibility of an interrogative in both these categories … All these have the function of identifying a particular subset of the ‘thing’ that is being referred to.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Deictic: The System Of Determination

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 365):
The nature of the Deictic is determined by the system of determination. The primary distinction is between (i) specific, or (ii) non-specific.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Deictic: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 365):
The Deictic element indicates whether or not some specific subset of the Thing is intended; and if so, which.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Nominal Group: The Function Of Experiential Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 364):
… experiential structure … has the function of specifying (i) a class of things … and (ii) some category of membership within this class. We shall refer to the element expressing the class by the functional label Thing. Categorisation within the class is typically expressed by one or more of the functional elements Deictic, Numerative, Epithet and Classifier. They serve to realise terms within different systems of the system network of the nominal group.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Nominal Group & Prepositional Phrase: Functional Overlap

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 364):
There is also some overlap between nominal groups and prepositional phrases. … the distinction between participants and circumstances is less clear in the ergative organisation of the clause, and this means that certain participants (Agent, Range, Beneficiary) are realised by prepositional phrases to indicate a special status in the clause as message (when they are presented as early or late news … ). At the same time, circumstances of location and extent may be realised by nominal groups without a preposition marking the circumstantial relation … .