"In this book, Richard Kern explores how technology matters to language and the ways in which we use it. Kern reveals how material, social and individual resources interact in the design of textual meaning, and how that interaction plays out across contexts of communication, different situations of technological mediation, and different moments in time."
Review of Introducing Functional Grammar, 2nd Edition
Mohammad Rasekh Mahand, Linguistics Department, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran.
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 this way.
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 the circumstance. 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 grammar.
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.
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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.