Saturday, 30 April 2016

Grammatical Metaphor

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 536):
Our basic approach to this is embodied in the term “metaphor”, as used in the context of metaphor in the grammar. We used the expression “grammatical metaphor” to refer to a complex set of interrelated effects whereby, in English and many other languages, there have evolved what seem to be alternative representations of processes and properties. In terms of word classes, meanings prototypically construed as verbs or adjectives come to be construed as nouns instead. But, as we saw, this is simply the superficial manifestation of a wider and deeper phenomenon affecting the entire construal of experiential meanings in the grammar.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Construing Experience Differently According To Mode

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 536):
Many “spoken” languages may be realised in two different media: in speech and in writing.  At first this presents itself just as two modes of expression; but when we look more closely at discourse in spoken and written language we find regularly associated differences in grammatical construction.  We find written language constructed in nominal groups, whereas spoken language is typically constructed in clauses. And since it is in the grammar that our experience is construed into meaning, what we are seeing are different forms of the construction of experience, one couched primarily in terms of figures, the other in terms of elements that make up such figures, mainly those that function as participating entities.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

The Construal Of Experience As Semantic Space In Signed Languages

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 535):
From Sign, we get further insight into the construal of experience as ideational meaning because of its greater potential for iconicity in the expression. Semantic space can be construed iconically in signing with continuous space-time, constituted as bodily experience for the signer and as part of shared visual experience for signer and addressee.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Interdependency Of The Metafunctions

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 532-3):
These three “metafunctions” are interdependent; no one could be developed except in the context of the other two. When we talk of the clause as a mapping of these three dimensions of meaning into a single complex grammatical structure, we seem to imply that each somehow “exists” independently; but they do not. There are — or could be — semiotics that are monofunctional in this way; but only very partial ones, dedicated to specific tasks. A general, all–purpose semiotic system could not evolve except in the interplay of action and reflection, a mode of understanding and a mode of doing — with itself included within its operational domain. Such a semiotic system is called a language.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Simultaneous Evolution Of The Metafunctions

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 532):
For a fuller understanding of the clause, we have to recognise that it evolved simultaneously as reflection, as action and as information: that is, not only as a representation of phenomena of our experience but also as a means of social action, of moving around in interpersonal space (and so defining that space and those who occupy it); and as a semiotic construct, whereby language itself becomes a part of, and a metaphor for, the reality it has evolved to construe and construct.

Monday, 25 April 2016

A Plane Of “Reality” Made Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 532): 
… in the course of serving this enabling rôle, the textual component opens up a new dimension of meaning potential, in that it construes a further plane of “reality” that is as it were made of language — meaning not as action or reflection but as information.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Textual Metafunction And The Clause: Embodying Two Sets Of Semantic Choices

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 532):
As far as the textual metafunction is concerned, therefore, any one clause will typically embody two sets of semantic choices. One will be its organisation as a message, a piece of information flowing from speaker to hearer, its limits defined by the speaker’s point of departure and the focus of attention projected by the speaker on to the listener. The other will be the cohesion it sets up with the preceding moments of the discourse, as well as with other discourses and with the total semiotic environment. These enable the clause to function effectively as reflection [ideationally] and as action [interpersonally].

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Lexical Cohesion

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 531):
Lexical cohesion refers to cohesion that is brought about by lexical means: choosing a word that is related in a systematic way to one that has occurred before. The range of semantic relations that can create cohesion in this way is very wide; but there are five principal conditions under which it occurs. These are: repetition … synonymy/antonymy … hyponymy/meronymy … and collocation …

Friday, 22 April 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 531):
In conjunction, the various logical-semantic relations of expansion that construe clause complex structures (discussed above under the “logical” metafunction) are deployed instead as a source of cohesion.  There are a large number of such conjunctive expressions, ranging from single words like however, moreover, otherwise (many of them originally composite forms) to prepositional phrases like in that case, in other words, at the same time (often containing a reference word inside them).  They cover more or less the same range of meanings that we referred to as “elaborating”, “extending” and “enhancing”; but they do not establish any structural relationship in the grammar, and this is recognised in written English, where they regularly occur after a full stop.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 531):
In ellipsis, some features which are present in the semantic construction of the clause (or other unit) are not realised explicitly in the wording, which cannot then be interpreted unless these features are retrieved from elsewhere.  Here it is not the meaning that is being referred to; it is the wording that is being retrieved, usually from the immediately preceding clause (whereas reference can span considerable distances in the text).  Ellipsis is particularly characteristic of dialogue, especially adjacency pairs such as question and answer.  Sometimes in English a substitute element is inserted as a placeholder; e.g. ones in Which lanes are those? — The northbound ones.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 530-1):
Reference is a way of referring to things that are already semiotically accessible: either actually, in the text, or potentially, in the context of situation.  The English reference systems are the personals, especially the third person pronouns and determiners he/him/his she/her/hers it/its they/them/their/theirs, and the demonstratives this/these that/those and the maverick the (which emerged as a weakened form of that).  Such systems evolved in a deictic function; when used anaphorically or cataphorically (that is, in deictic relation to text), they create cohesion.  There is also a third source of referential cohesion, through the use of comparison, with words such as same, other, different, less, smaller.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Resources For Creating Cohesion

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 530):
Over and above its contribution to the grammar of the clause, what we are calling the “textual” metafunctional component comprises a further set of resources, which construe clauses and clause complexes into longer stretches of discourse without the formality of further grammatical structure. These are the resources for creating “cohesion”. These are of four kinds: reference (sometimes called “phora”, to distinguish it from reference as defined in the philosophy of language), ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Clause As Message Vs Quantum Of Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 530):
It may be a general principle [across languages] that thematic status is more closely tied to the clause (as the locus of experiential and interpersonal choices) than is the listener-oriented pattern of given and new; in English the “quantum” of information that is defined by this latter construction is not, in fact, identical with the clause and may be smaller or larger. But all discourse is organised around these two motifs, which between them “add value” to the clause, enabling it to ‘mean’ effectively in the context in which it occurs.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Why 'New' Is Signalled By Tonic Prominence In English

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 529-30):
This focal point usually comes at the end; but (unlike the Theme + Rheme) the Given + New structure is not signalled, in English, by word order — it is signalled by intonation, and specifically by pitch prominence, the point of maximum perturbation (falling, rising or complex) in the intonation contour. The principle behind this is clear: if the Theme always came first, and the New always came last, there would be no possibility of combining them; whereas one powerful form of message — powerful because highly marked — is that in which the two are mapped onto one another, as in no wonder they were annoyed (where the focus is on the interpersonal Theme no wonder.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Given + New

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 529):

But the Theme + Rheme configuration becomes a message only when paired with another one, that of Given + New.  This construes a piece of information from the complementary point of view, as something having news value — something the listener is being invited to attend to.  It may not contain anything the listener has not heard before; a great deal of ”news” is totally familiar, being simply contrasted or even re-iterated.  On the other hand, the entire message may consist of unknown information, for example the first clause in a piece of fiction.  But the message is construed along prototypical lines as an equilibrium of the given and the new, with a climax in the form of a focal point of information: ‘this is to be the focus of your attention’.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Theme + Rheme

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 529):
One way of signalling what is thematic is by putting it first in the clause, as is done in English, where everything up to and including the first experiential element constitutes the speaker’s chosen point of departure. … The remainder of the clause constitutes the body of the message, labelled grammatically as the “Rheme”.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Theme: Point Of Departure

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 529):
From a speaker’s point of view, a piece of information has a specific point of departure; the Prague scholars referred to this as the “Theme”. The Theme, in English, always includes one element that has an experiential function, typically a participant in a process; it may include other elements as well, for example an interpersonal expression of modality if the speaker is thematising his/her own point of view.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Textual Structures: Origins

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528-9):
These structures have been less fully described than those of the other metafunctions; they were brought to the notice of grammarians by Mathesius and his colleagues of the Prague school in the first half of the [20th] century.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
In this guise, the clause functions as a quantum of information; it is construed as a message, with a range of possible structures providing for different interpretations according to the discourse environment in which it occurs.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: Cohesion

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
Since these resources are oriented towards discourse, many of the “textual” systems in any language have a domain potentially higher than the clause and the clause complex; they set up relationships that create semantic cohesion, and these are not restricted by the limitations of grammatical structure.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: Enabling Rôle

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
Relative to the other metafunctions, therefore, the textual metafunction appears in an enabling rôle; without its resources, neither ideational nor interpersonal constructs would make sense.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: The Creation Of Discourse

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528): 
The “textual” metafunction is the name we give to the systematic resources a language must have for creating discourse: for ensuring that each instance of text makes contact with its environment. The “environment” includes both the context of situation and other instances of text.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: Intrinsic To Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
… and if we observe children developing their mother tongue we can see how the ideational and interpersonal resources of the system gradually emerge from the earliest semiotic encounters, in a way which may plausibly mimic how the metafunctions originally evolved. The textual metafunction is different because it does not originate in an extrinsic context of this kind. Rather, it is intrinsic to language itself.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Why 'Meta' function?

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528): 
The concept of metafunction is “meta” in the sense that it refers not to functions of individual utterances — functions of the instance — but to functional components of the system of language. They are, of course, “functional” in origin — that is, they derive from the functions of language as manifested in instances of use;

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Textual Metafunction: Language As Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
There is a third component in the linguistic construction of meaning; this is what we refer to as the “textual” metafunction. If we were trying to find a term to match the expressions “language as reflection” and “language as action” that we used to gloss the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions, we might come up with “language as information”; but this is itself not very informative. It is a difficult concept because unlike the other two, the textual metafunction has no obviously distinct function at the back of it. All uses of language involve the creation of text. But at the same time this is precisely the context in which the textual metafunction may be understood.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Interpersonal (& Ideational) Meanings Are Brought Into Existence By The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 527):
Interpersonal meaning is mapped onto ideational meaning at all points from the most micro to the most macro: from modality and speech function in the clause (or even features built into the morphology of the word, like the diminutives characteristic of many languages), to settings affecting the whole of a particular register, like the aura of power and distance that we associate with the language of bureaucracy. These are the various ways in which language functions as a mode of action; and these meanings, no less than the ideational ones, are brought into existence by the grammar.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Interpersonal Meaning Enacting Social Relationships

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 527):
… and because human societies are inherently hierarchical, the interpersonal component of the grammar in many languages enacts networks of social relationships with varying degrees of inequality and of distance. Thus there may be regular lexicogrammatical variants used to maintain different alignments of speaker and listener, and even of third parties, on vectors of power and familiarity; such forms may be located at one point in each grammatical structure (for example in the endings of the verb) or dispersed prosodically throughout the wording of the clause. But even in a language such as English, where there are no such systematic speech styles institutionalised in the grammar, there is always some functional variation along these lines: we have no difficulty in recognising what are the more formal and what are the more informal variants among different samples of spoken and written discourse.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Realisation Of Interpersonal Meaning In Grammatical Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 527):
Unlike ideational meanings, which tend to be located at definable locations in the grammatical structure, interpersonal meanings tend to be strung throughout the discourse, by an accumulation of grammatical and lexical features or by other devices such as voice quality and intonation contours. This signals the fact that interpersonal meanings are more diffuse: they relate to the figure as a whole, rather than to one of its elements; or to a whole turn in the dialogue, or even to more extended passage of the discourse. Some particular interpersonal colouring may inform the whole of an individual speaker’s interaction with another person;

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Other Kinds Of Interpersonal Meaning Constructed By The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 527):
These include comments about how desirable or plausible or self-evident something is, expressions of attitude in referring to persons and objects, sets of words with similar experiential meaning but distinguished interpersonally by connotation (sometimes called “purr words” and “snarl words”) and numerous forms of personal address and reference (kinship terms, personal names, honorifics, endearments, insults and the like).

Friday, 1 April 2016

Modulation: Obligation & Readiness (Inclination & Ability)

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 526):
Although these are derived from the sense of proposals (‘you are required / supposed / allowed; I am able / willing’), they are not restricted to clauses having these speech functions; obligation and readiness are construed by the grammar propositionally and hence are used freely with third persons. But they still represent the judgements of speaker or listener on the obligations or inclinations involved (he ought to help, she will help).