The Thought Occurs

The Thought Occurs

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Nominal Groups Inside Prepositional Phrases: Indirect Participants

Q1. WHAT ARE THE EXPERIENTIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FACT THAT THE COMPLEMENT OF A PREPOSITION (MINOR PREDICATOR) CAN OFTEN BE RAISED TO SUBJECT?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 296-7):
… the Complement of a preposition can often emerge to function as Subject … This pattern suggests that Complements of prepositions, despite being embedded in an element that has a circumstantial function, are still felt to be participating, even if at a distance, in the process expressed by the clause.

Q2. HOW DO WE DISTINGUISH THESE TWO TYPES OF PARTICIPATION?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 261):
We can make a contrast, then, between direct and indirect participants, using ‘indirect participant’ to refer to the status of a nominal group that is inside a prepositional phrase …

Q3. HOW DO WE DISTINGUISH INDIRECT PARTICIPANTS FROM CIRCUMSTANCES?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 278):
Wherever there is systematic alternation between a prepositional phrase and a nominal group, as in all the instances in Participant functions realised by prepositional phrases, the element in question is interpreted as a participant.

Q4. WHAT IS THE FUNCTIONAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRECT AND INDIRECT PARTICIPANTS?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 295-6):
… the choice of ‘plus or minus preposition’ with Agent, Beneficiary and Range … serves a textual function. … The principle is as follows. If a participant other than the Medium is in a place of prominence in the message, it tends to take a preposition (ie to be construed as ‘indirect’ participant); otherwise it does not. Prominence in the message means functioning either (i) as marked Theme (ie Theme but not Subject) or (ii) as ‘late news’ — that is, occurring after some other participant, or circumstance, that already follows the Process. In other words, prominence comes from occurring either earlier or later than expected in the clause; and it is this that is being reinforced by the presence of the preposition. The preposition has become a signal of special status in the message.

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