LINGUIST List 15.3239
Thu Nov 18 2004
Review: Ling Theories/Syntax: Thompson (2003)
Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <naomilinguistlist.org>
What follows is a review or discussion note contributed to our Book Discussion Forum. We expect discussions to be informal and interactive; and the author of the book discussed is cordially invited to join in. If you are interested in leading a book discussion, look for books announced on LINGUIST as "available for review." Then contact Shiela Collberg at collberglinguistlist.org.
Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd Edition
Message 1: Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd Edition
From: Mohammad Mahand <mrmahand2001yahoo.com>
Subject: Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd Edition
Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 00:48:08 -0800 (PST)
From: Mohammad Rasekh Mahand yahoo.com>
Subject: Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd ed.
Author: Thompson, Geoffrey
Title: Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd Edition
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/14/14-3060.html
Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Linguistics Department, Bu-Ali Sina University,
The book under review is an introduction to Halliday's Functional Grammar.
It is written in a way to be a textbook suitable for students with no or little
previous knowledge about functional grammar. The writer tries to show the
students that functional grammar explanations match to things they
intuitively know about language.
The book consists of ten chapters. In each chapter, there are some
exercises and at the end of the book these exercises are answered. A good
explanation on further readings for each chapter is also attached to the end
of the book.
The first chapter of the book is about the purposes of linguistic analysis.
Two different ways of doing the same thing are briefly introduced: going
through form, more or less as Chomsky does, and going through meaning,
as Halliday does and this book tries to elaborate on that.
The second chapter is an introduction on recognizing clauses and clause
constituents. The aim is to make sure that the students know parts of
speech and clause types. The writer also has discussed different ranks; from
clauses to groups to words to morphemes.
After these two introductory chapters, the third chapter is an overview of
functional grammar. It introduces three kinds of meaning or three uses of
language, first its use to talk about our experience of the world and to
describe events, states and the entities involved in them; second, to interact
with other people, to establish and maintain relations with them; and third,
to organize our massages in ways to fit the other massages around them
and with wider context of talking or writing. These three metafunctions are
respectively called experiential, interpersonal and textual. These three
metafunctions are realized in clause. Looking from experiential
metafunction, clause can be divided into, for example, Actor, Process and
Goal. Looking from interpersonal one, the clause can be divided into Mood
and Residue, and from textual metafunction it could be divided into Theme
and Rheme. There is also a fourth metafunction, called logical, which
explores the kind of relations which can happen between a number of
clauses. This chapter also has a discussion on Register, as variation
according to use, and Genre, as Register plus purpose.
Chapter four is a survey of interpersonal metafunction in detail. It begins
with defining four basic speech roles: giving information, demanding
information, giving goods-and-services and demanding goods-and-
services, respectively called statement, question, offer and command. From
interpersonal view, the clause is divided into two parts: Mood and Residue.
Mood is made up of subject and finite. It carries the vital role in carrying out
the interpersonal functions of the clause in as exchange in English.
Different kinds of Mood in interrogative, declarative, suggestive and jussive
sentences are discussed. Residue, the part which is not Mood, has three
kinds of functional elements, predicator, complements and adjuncts.
Adjuncts are also divided into three main groups; circumstantial adjuncts
which tell us something about when, where, how and why, conjunctive
adjuncts or discourse markers which signal how the clause as a whole fits in
the preceding text, and modal adjuncts which have an interpersonal
function like "unfortunately" in the following example:
Unfortunately, I did not meet Paul Klee there or later in my life.
In the rest of this chapter polarity, being positive or negative, and modality
re discussed. Modality is divided into two main parts, modalization which
refers to the validity of information on the basis of probability and usuality,
and modulation which refers to the amount of obligation or inclination of
the people involved in the exchange. Finally, there is a guideline for
analyzing text from interpersonal view and a sample text that is analyzed in
Chapter five is the description of experiential metafunction. From this
perspective, language comprises a set of resources for referring to entities
in the world and the ways in which those entities act on or relate ton each
other. From this view, a clause can be divided into participant(s),
circumstance(s), and process. For example in the following sentence, 'they'
and 'the front door' are participants, 'unlocked' is the process and 'slowly' is
They slowly unlocked the front door.
Participants are normally realized with nominal groups, processes by verbal
groups and circumstances with adverbial groups.
Processes are also divided into different groups. In other words, transitivity
has different kinds including material, mental, relational, verbal, behavioral
and existential. These terms refers to the kind of process in each clause. In
the rest of the chapter some sample, spoken and written, texts are analyzed
from experiential perspective.
The sixth chapter explores the textual metafunction and is mainly
concerned with Theme. Theme is defined as the first constituent of the
clause and the rest is called Rheme. Theme is the starting point of the
clause. Theme in declarative clauses could be subject, complement or
adjunct. In non-declarative clauses, themes are also described. Some
aspects of theme, like thematic equative, predicated themes, thematized
comment, preposed theme and themes in passive clauses are explained.
The rest of the chapter is about theme in clause complexes, multiple
themes and some examples of identifying themes in text.
Chapter seven is mainly concerned with cohesion, the linguistic devices by
which the speaker can signal the experiential and interpersonal coherence
of the text. It is different from coherence, which is in the mind of the writer
or reader. Coherence can be achieved with reference, ellipsis and
conjunction. Reference is the set of grammatical resources that allow the
speaker to indicate whether something is repeated from somewhere earlier
in the text, or whether it has not yet repeated in the text. By ellipsis full
repetition of clause or clause elements can be achieved. It has two main
types, ellipsis proper, the element is simply missed out, and substitution, a
linguistic token is put in the place of wording to be repeated elsewhere.
Chapter eight is on logical metafunction that looks at clauses in
combination. Clause complex is a combination of two or more clauses into
a larger unit. There are different kinds of relation between the clauses in a
clause complex; like logical dependency relations or hypotaxis and
parataxis, and logico-semantic relations which are divided into expansion
and projection. In expansion, one clause expands on the meaning of
another in various forma, by elaboration, extending and enhancing. In
projection one clause projects another in a second order use of language.
Chapter nine is on grammatical metaphor. In the previous chapters it was
assumed that the relation between wording and meaning is always
straightforward, but this chapter shows that it is not always the case. When
this relation is not straightforward, the term metaphor is used. For
example 'crippled' in 'the crippled child' has its literal meaning which
means 'disabled', while in 'the crippled nation' it means 'to be in a difficult
situation', which is a metaphorical meaning. In all of the different
metafunctions described metaphor can exist, so the book introduces
experiential, interpersonal, textual and logical metaphors.
The last chapter of the book is a summery of the discussions in the previous
chapters and some notes on the implications and applications of functional
Geoff Thomson's book has many strong points to make it a very useful and
readable textbook. The first point is its language that is so friendly, clear
and at the same time scientific tat the reads feels he is in a classroom
listening to the lecturer. The second point is that the complexities of
functional grammar are described easily, without hesitation and step-by-
step, so that at the end of the book the reader is totally familiar with this
theory and he can go to the main texts without any difficulty. The last point
is the samples and exercises at the end of each chapter that clearly
demonstrates the actual uses of functional grammar. This textbook is a very
useful source for learning functional grammar.
ABOUT THE REVIWER
Mohammad Rasekh Mahand is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Bu-Ali
Sina University, Hamadan, Iran. His research interests include syntax,
syntax-pragmatics interface and typology.
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