Thursday, 30 November 2017

Construing Change: Transience And Permanence

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 223):
The contrast [between participants and processes] is also reflected in in the organisation of nominal groups and verbal groups in two ways: while nominal groups have evolved the system of determination for locating referents in a referential space, verbal groups have evolved the system of tense for locating a unique occurrence of a process in time.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Construing Change: Transience And Permanence

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 222-3):
The units that realise the process, participant, and circumstance elements of the clause make distinct contributions to the modelling of a quantum of change. The elements that make up the ‘centre’ of the clause – the process and the participants involved in it – construe complementary facets of the change. These two facets are transience and permanence. Transience means that a phenomenon is construed as unfolding through time by a verbal group serving as the process. Permanence means that a phenomenon is construed as continuous through time, being located in (concrete or abstract) space, by nominal groups serving as participants. Thus participants are construed as being relatively stable through time, and an instance of a participant can take part in many processes … In contrast, processes are ephemeral; every instance is a unique occurrence …
This contrast between participants and processes explains why there are names of individual participants — ‘proper names’, as well as names of classes of participants — ‘common nouns’, but only names of classes of processes: all lexical verbs are ‘common’ verbs.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Processes, Participants And Circumstances

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 221):
This tripartite interpretation of figures … is what lies behind the grammatical distinction of word classes into verbs, nouns and the rest, a pattern that in some form is probably universal among human languages.

Monday, 27 November 2017

‘The Difference In Status Between Participants And Circumstances’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 221):
One way of looking at the situation is this. The process is the most central element in the configuration. Participants are close to the centre; they are directly involved in the process, bringing about its occurrence or being affected by it in some way … and we can say that the configuration of process + participants constitutes the experiential centre of the clause. Circumstantial elements augment this centre in some way — temporally, spatially, causally and so on; but their status in the configuration is more peripheral and unlike participants they are not directly involved in the process.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Circumstances vs Participants

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 220):
Circumstantial elements are almost always optional augmentations of the clause rather than obligatory components. In contrast, participants are inherent in the process: every experiential type of clause has at least one participant and certain types have up to three participants – the only exception being, as just noted above, clauses of certain meteorological processes without any participants …

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Semantic Figure As Construed By Clause Transitivity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 220):
A figure consists, in principle, of three components:
  1. a process unfolding through time
  2. the participants involved in the process
  3. circumstances associated with the process.
These are organised in configurations that provide the models or schemata for construing our experience of what goes on.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Process Type And Instantial & Registerial Variation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 218-9):
Part of the ‘flavour’ of a particular text, and also of the register that it belongs to, lies in its mixture of process types. For example, in enabling contexts, recipes and other procedural texts are almost entirely ‘material’, whereas, in reporting contexts, ‘verbal’ clauses play an important role in news reports and, in sharing contexts, ‘mental’ clauses are a typical motif in casual conversation. The mixture of process types characteristic of a text belonging to a particular register typically changes in the course of unfolding of the text.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Terms In Systems Represent Fuzzy Sets

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 218n):
Systemic terms are not Aristotelian categories. Rather they are fuzzy categories; they can be thought of as representing fuzzy sets rather than ‘crisp’ ones …

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

All System Networks Construe A Continuous Semiotic Space

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 218):
Like all system networks, this [process typenetwork construes a continuous semiotic space.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The Principle Of Systemic Indeterminacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 217, 218):
The world of our experience is highly indeterminate; and this is precisely how the grammar construes it in the system of process type. Thus, one and the same text may offer alternative models of what would appear to be the same domain of experience, construing for example the domain of emotion both as a process in a ‘mental’ clause … and as a participant in a ‘relational’ one …
Emotion is one of a number of experiential domains that are construed in more than one way by the grammar of transitivity. Such domains are experientially difficult to come to terms with, and the grammar solves the problem by offering complementary models for construing them.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Process Type As Continuous Semiotic Space: Core & Peripheral Areas

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 216):
The regions have core areas and these represent prototypical members of the process types; but the regions are continuous, shading into one another, and these border areas represent the fact that the process types are fuzzy categories.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Process Types: Ordering

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 216):
There is no priority of one kind of process over another. But they are ordered; and what is important is that, in our concrete visual metaphor, they form a circle and not a line. (More accurately still … a sphere … .) That is to say, our model of experience, as interpreted through the grammatical system of transitivity, is one of regions within a continuous space; but the continuity is not between two poles, it is round in a loop.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Material Processes And In/Transitive Verbs

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 216):
They have, for example, been the source of the traditional distinction between ‘transitive’ and ‘intransitive’ verbs.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Process Type Variation Across Languages

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 215n):
The minor process types appear to vary more across languages than the major ones. For example, in certain languages (English being one of them), existential clauses appear as a distinct type, but in other languages they may be very close to possessive and/or locative relational clauses.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Existential Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 215):
And on the borderline between the ‘relational’ and the ‘material’ are the processes concerned with existence, the existential, by which phenomena of all kinds are simply recognised to ‘be’ — to exist or to happen …

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Verbal Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 215):
On the borderline between ‘mental’ and ‘relational’ are the verbal processes: symbolic relationships constructed in human consciousness and enacted in the form of language, like saying and meaning …

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Behavioural Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 215):
On the borderline between ‘material’ and ‘mental’ are the behavioural processes: those that represent the outer manifestations of inner workings, the acting out of processes of consciousness and physiological states.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Subsidiary Process Types: Behavioural, Verbal & Existential

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 215):
Material, mental and relational are the main types of process in the English transitivity system. But we also find further categories at the three boundaries; not so clearly set apart, but nevertheless recognisable in the grammar as intermediate between the different pairs — sharing some features of each, and thus acquiring a character of their own.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Main Process Types Construed By The Transitivity Of English: Relational

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 214):
In addition to material and mental processes — the outer and inner aspects of our experience, a third component has to be supplied, before this can become a coherent theory of experience. We learn to generaliseto relate one fragment of experience to another in some kind of taxonomic relationship: this is the same as that, this is a kind of the other.  Here the grammar recognises processes of a third type, those of identifying and classifying; we call these relational process clauses …

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Main Process Types Construed By The Transitivity Of English: Material & Mental

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 214):
There is a basic difference, that we become aware of at a very early age (three to four months), between inner and outer experience: between what we experience as going on ‘out there’, in the world around us, and what we experience as going on inside ourselves, in the world of consciousness (including perception, emotion and imagination). The prototypical form of the ‘outer’ experience is that of actions and events: things happen, and people or other actors do things, or make them happen. The ‘inner’ experience is harder to sort out; but it is partly a kind of replay of the outer, recording it, reacting to it, reflecting on it, and partly a separate awareness of our states of being. The grammar sets up a discontinuity between these two: it distinguishes rather clearly between the outer experience, the processes of the external world, and inner experience, the processes of consciousness. The grammatical categories are those of material process clauses and mental process clauses …

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Clause: Mode Of Action & Mode Of Reflection

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 213):
Thus as well as being a mode of action, of giving and demanding goods–&–services and information, the clause is also a mode of reflection, of imposing order on the endless variation and flow of events.

Thursday, 9 November 2017


Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 213):
All figures consist of a process unfolding through time and of participants being directly involved in this process in some way; and in addition there may be circumstances of time, space, cause, manner or one of a few other types. These circumstances are not directly involved in the process; rather they are attendant on it.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Clause Chunks The Flow Of Events Into Quanta Of Change

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 213):
Our most powerful impression of experience is that it consists of a flow of events, or ‘goings–on’. This flow of events is chunked into quanta of change by the grammar of the clause: each quantum of change is modelled as a figure — a figure of happening, doing, sensing, saying, being or having. … All such figures are sorted out in the grammar of the clause. … The grammatical system by which this is achieved is that of transitivity.  The system of transitivity provides the lexicogrammatical resources for construing a quantum of change in the flow of events as a figure – as a configuration of elements centred on a process. Processes are construed into a manageable set of process types. Each process type constitutes a distinct model or schema for construing a particular domain of experience as a figure of a particular kind …

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Experiential Line Of Clause Organisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 212):
… experientially, the clause construes a quantum of change as a figure, or configuration of a process, participants involved in it and any attendant circumstances.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Theme Vs Mood Element

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 206):
Unlike the Theme, which — while it is itself a property of the clause — carries forward the development of the text as a whole, the Mood element has little significance beyond the immediate sequence of clauses in which it occurs. It tends to be the overall organisation of the text that determines the choice of Theme in any particular clause, or that determines at least the general pattern of thematic choices; whereas there may be no general pattern in the choice of Subject, but only a specific propositional basis for each exchange. … Nevertheless, the ongoing selection of Subjects by a speaker or writer does give a characteristic flavour to a piece of discourse.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Embedded Clauses & Clauses Functioning As Modalities

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 206):
… these do not function as propositions or proposals — they play no part in the structure of the interaction.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Postposed Subject Vs Predicated Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 199):
In Theme predication, the final clause is a relative clause functioning as Post-modifier to the it (where it means ‘the thing that’, ‘the time that/when’ and so on). The clause as postposed Subject, on the other hand, is a fact clause … and it is related to the it by apposition (paratactic elaboration).
… a clause with predicated Theme always has the verb be, and has a non-predicated agnate … A clause with postposed Subject has no such agnate form; moreover such clauses are not restricted to the verb be. Being facts they typically occur in clauses where the proposition has an interpersonal loading; for example, a Complement expressing modality or comment (it is possible/unfortunate that …), or a Predicator expressing affection or cognition (it worries/puzzles me that …).

Friday, 3 November 2017

Embedded Clause As Postposed Subject

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 198):
In many instances an embedded clause functioning as Subject appears at the end of the clause in which it is embedded, with an anticipatory it occurring in the normal Subject position, as in it’s no use crying over spilt milk. In such cases there will be a marked variant with the clause Subject at the beginning: crying over spilt milk is no use.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Continuatives As Minor Clauses: Backchannelling

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 196-7):
There is one other element that occurs in major clauses but which can also function on its own in dialogue. This is a textual element – the Continuative, which is used to indicate how the clause relates to the preceding move in a dialogue: well, oh, yes, no, and so on.  Such items can also function on their own in dialogue, indicating that the listener is tracking the current speaker’s contribution. This has been called ‘backchannelling’ … Such minor clauses include yes, mmh, aha, sure.  They do not constitute a turn in their own right; rather they serve to ensure the continuity of the interaction by supporting the current speaker’s turn … In face-to-face conversation, they may of course be accompanied — or even replaced — by other, ‘paralinguistic’, indicators such as nodding.

Blogger Comment:

Note that a function of so-called High Rising Terminal tone is clearly to ‘demand’ the polarity supplied by ‘backchannelling’.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Vocatives In Major Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 196):
When a vocative functions within a major clause, it is fairly ‘loosely’ integrated: it falls outside the Mood + Residue structure.