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Functional Grammar

Functional Grammar

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Published by Ayaz Abdullah

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Published by: Ayaz Abdullah on Dec 04, 2009
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Functional Grammar: An Overview
 Functionalism  Scale

and Category Grammar  Systemic Grammar  Functional Grammar

Origin: Functionalism
 Vilem

Mathesius (1882-1945)  Article: ‘On the potentiality of the phenomena of language’ (1911)  Non historical approach to the study of language  Russian linguist: Roman Osipovich Jakobson (1896-1938)  Prague School linguist

 More

recently:  Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday: the most influential figure

The Prague School: View on Language
 ‘the

phonological, grammatical and semantic structures of a language are determined by the functions they have to perform in the societies in which they operate’ (Lyons, 1981:224)

J.R. Firth (1890-1960) Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942) : Their Contribution
 Much

inspired by Bronislaw Malinowski  Malinowski argues: ‘language is not a self-contained system – the extreme structuralist view – but is entirely dependent on the society in which it is used’  To him, language is dependent on society in two ways:

 Language

evolves in response to the specific demands of the society in which it is used  Its use is entirely context-dependent: ‘utterance and situation are bound up inextricably with each other and the context of situation is indispensable for the understanding of the words’

 He

argues that meaning must be studied with reference to an analysis of functions of language in any given culture  Three major functions:
 Pragmatic Function  Magical Function  Narrative Function

 J.R.

Firth: uses Saussurean notion of system:  Enumerated set of choices in a specific context  Any item will have two types of contexts:
 Context of other possible choices in the system  Context in which the system itself occurs

Michael Kirkwood Halliday
“A functional approach to language means, first of all,

investigating how language is used: trying to find out what are the purposes that language serves for us, and how we are able to achieve these purposes through speaking and listening, reading and writing. But it also means more than this. It means seeking to explain the nature of language in functional terms: seeing whether language itself has been shaped by use, and if so, in what ways ? how the form of language has been determined by the function it has evolved to serve”
(Halliday, Explorations in the Functions of Language, 1973, p. 7)

Halliday’s Theory of Language
 Two

basic observations 1. Language is part of the social semiotic The whole culture is meaningful. Constructed out of a series of systems of signs Language is one of those systems Reflects aspects of situations cont…

2. People talk to each other As a social system, language is subject to two types of variation: Variation according to user Variation according to use (register variation)

 Speech

situation or context relevant aspects: field, tenor, mode Field of discourse: what is going on Tenor of discourse: who is taking part in the social action Mode of discourse: the role that the text or language itself plays

Major Functions of Language
 Ideational

things  Interpersonal function: acting on things  Textual function: language user’s text-forming potential

Function: reflecting on

Register Code
 Concept

of text variety that allows us to make sensible predictions about the kind of language which will occur in a given situation, that is , associated with a particular field, tenor, and mode.  Code acts as a filter through which the culture is transmitted to a child

Macro/Micro Functions
 Macrofunctions:

ideational, interpersonal, textual  Microfunction: asking for things, making commands

Scale and Category Grammar
 Halliday:

1950s-1960s  Developed on the insights derived by J.R Firth (1890-1960) viewed meaning as the function of a linguistic item in its context of use axes: paradigmatic, syntagmatic

 In

Scale and Category Grammar language is analysed as an interrelationship between three (or four) scales and four categories  The original scale included:  Rank: system of levels or ranks, going from the ‘highest’ rank of sentence, through clause, phrase, (or group) and word down to morpheme “hierarchical relations”

 Exponence:

relationship between a level of linguistic analysis and an actual example , or exponent of this level (an example, an actual realisation)  Delicacy: determining the degree of detail in a grammatical analysis  Depth: measuring the degree of complexity of the analysis

 Category:

a class of items with the same function; one of the characteristics of such a class  Class: classification of sentences: simple, compound, complex  System: choices in any particular area, person system  Unit: five units: sentence, clause, group, word, and morpheme  Structure: free or bound relationship within a unit

Systemic Functional Grammarstructural  Attempts to combine purely

information with overtly social factors in a single integrated description  The basic idea is that any act of communication realises a set of choices: thus e.g. the utterance She went out among others, the choice of a declarative structure. Each choice is at a certain level in a hierarachy of ranks: the choice of declarative is at clause level. (cont)

It is also related to other choices on a scale of delicacy (detail of grammatical description): the choice of interrogative instead of declarative would entail a further choice between polar interrogative and wh-interrogative. Each individual set of choices forms a system, declarative and interrogative form or are part of another. A grammar will accordingly describe the systems of a language, the relations between them, and the ways in which they are realized, to a level of detail at which all remaining choices are between open set of lexical units.

Systemic Grammar: basic notions
Deeply concerned with the purposes of language use  Metafunctions  Text analysis  Coherence, cohesion

Functional Grammar 1985
‘interpretation of grammatical patterns in terms of configurations of functions’  Particularly relevant in the analysis of text  Text: ‘everything that is said or written’ “ natural grammar” S.C Dik’s model Halliday’s view: language has two major functions, metafunctions: ideational “content” function Interpersonal function

Functional Grammar 1985
An account of clause structure in which functions are distinguished separately on three level: Bill left yesterday  Bill has the syntactic function of subject and the semantic function of agent; it might also have the pragmatic function of theme. Semantic functions are associated with predicates in the lexicon (agent with leave) and the nucleus of a clause (represented by Bill left) may also be extended by satellites (yesterday); syntactic functions are then assigned to its elements; then pragmatic functions.

Basic Tenets of Functional Grammar
 ‘a

theory of meaning as choice’  Clause analysis  Theme:' the element which serves as the point of departure of the message, it is with which the clause is concerned’  Rheme: the rest of the message is referred to

Thomas That Easter egg Thomas Sophie by Thomas At Easter Katie Very soon

gave Sophie that Easter egg was given to Sophie by was given that Easter egg Tomas went to see Sophie and they were eating Easter eggs

Overarching Functions of Language




Clauses of Representation

Clauses of Exchange

Clauses of Message

 Mood:

relationship between the grammatical subject of the clause and the finite element of the verbal group  Residue: remainder of the clause any indicative clause (which has a subject and a finite verb) will have a mood structure

 Subject

and finite make up the proposition of the clause  The part that can be affirmed, denied, questioned, and negotiated by speakers  Locating the subject of a declarative clause: Tag  That teapot was given to your aunt

 The

finite element further enhances the proposition as something to negotiate by (1) giving it a primary tense and (2) a modality  Operators: temporal/modal

 The

duke has given that teapot away  Has the duke given that teapot away  Who gave you that teapot  Why were you given that teapot The Imperative  Subject often missing Go away  Ellipsis

Clause Residue elements
Predicator: only one eating her curds and whey (Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet) Complements: one or two, ‘anything that could have functioned as the subject in the clause, but which does not’ Adjuncts: upto 7, those elements which do not have the potential of being used as subjects

Halliday lists three types of process
 Material

process: process of doing, actor, goal
 Clause Transitive: when both are present  Clause Intransitive: when only actor

Material Process





Mental Process
feeling, thinking Senser Phenomenon

Mental Process







Relational Process
processes of being six types

Relational Process Copula Intensive ‘x is a’
Circumstantial ‘x is at a’

Possessive ‘x has a’

Mental Process Sensor Experiencer Stative Phenomenon Experienced Dynamic

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