The Thought Occurs

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Circumstantial Vs Modal And Conjunctive Adjuncts

Diagnostic: Textual Potential

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 279):
Modal and Conjunctive Adjuncts are outside the transitivity system, hence while typically thematic, they are not topical Theme and therefore cannot be given special thematic prominence; nor will they carry the only focus of information in the clause. … But many items can occur both as circumstance and in one of the other functions.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Prepositional Phrases As Participants

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.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Material Clauses: Transformative Vs Creative

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 186):
Neither happen to nor do to/with can be used [as probes] with creative clauses …

Friday, 25 April 2014

Mental Clauses Vs Material Clauses

1. Diagnostic: Tense

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 206):
In a ‘mental’ clause, the unmarked present tense is the simple present … But in a ‘material’ clause the unmarked present tense is the present in present … 

2. Diagnostic: ‘Do’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 207):
Mental processes … are not kinds of doing, and cannot be probed or substituted by do.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Relational Clauses Vs Mental Clauses

1. Diagnostic: Consciousness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 212): 
… while one participant in a ‘mental’ clause, the Senser, is always endowed with consciousness, this is not the case with ‘relational’ clauses. 

2. Diagnostic: Projection

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 213): 
With a ‘mental’ clause, the phenomenon of consciousness can be construed as an idea brought into existence through the process of consciousness and represented grammatically as a separate clause … but this is not possible with ‘relational’ clauses.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Relational And Mental Clauses Vs Material Clauses

Diagnostic: Acts & Facts

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 213): 
In being able to be construed not only with things as participants, but also with acts and facts, ‘relational’ clauses clearly differ from ‘material’ ones; but they resemble ‘mental’ ones in this respect.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Relational Clauses Vs Material And Mental Clauses

1. Diagnostic: Inherent Participants

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 213): 
In ‘relational’ clauses, there are two parts to the ‘being’: something is said to ‘be’ something else … This means that in a ‘relational’ clause in English, there are always two inherent participants … In contrast, the general classes of ‘material’ and ‘mental’ clauses have only one inherent participant (the Actor and the Senser, respectively). 

2. Diagnostic: Salience

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 214): 
Verbs in general in ‘relational’ clauses are typically non-salient, whereas verbs in ‘material’ and ‘mental’ clauses are salient at the accented syllable …

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Attributive Vs Identifying Relational Clauses

1. Diagnostic: Reversibility

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 215): 
The ‘identifying’ ones are reversible … The ‘attributive’ ones are not reversible … 

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 220): 
The [‘attributive’] clauses are not reversible: there are no ‘receptive’ forms … 

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 228): 
These [‘identifying’] clauses are reversible. All verbs except the neutral be and the phased become, remain (and those with following prepositions like as in act as) have passive forms … Clauses with be reverse without change in the form of the verb and without marking the non-Subject participant …

2. Diagnostic: Definiteness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 219): 
The nominal group functioning as Attribute construes a class of thing and is typically indefinite: it has either an adjective or a common noun as Head and, if appropriate, an indefinite article … It cannot be a proper noun or a pronoun since these do not construe classes. 

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 228): 
The nominal group realising the function of Identifier is typically definite: it has a common noun as Head, with the or other specific determiner as Deictic, or else a proper noun or pronoun. The only form with adjective as head is the superlative ….

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Intensive Vs Circumstantial Attributive Clauses

Diagnostic: Constituent Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 240n): 
Ascriptive verbs of marked phase such as turn and look, were treated as ‘intensive’ even when they had a preposition after them: for example, caterpillars turn into butterflies, Penelope looked like an angel. This reflects their constituent structure; cf what they turn into are butterflies (not what they turn is into butterflies), Penelope looked angelic. But there is an overlap at this point, and these could also be interpreted as circumstantial.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Circumstantial Attributive Vs Material Clauses

1. Diagnostic: Unmarked Present Tense

2. Diagnostic: Inherent Participant Mobility

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 242): 
Verbs serving in clauses with a circumstantial process are often derived from a basic use in ‘material’ clauses of motion …
The unmarked present tense is the simple present … rather than the present in present of ‘material’ clauses …
The Carrier is typically some immobile physical feature, whereas the Actor of a ‘material’ clause of motion is typically an animate being or a mobile entity.
Because of the overlap of a large set of verbs, there will of course be cases that are indeterminate …

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Circumstantial Attributive Vs Existential Clauses

Diagnostic: Mood Tag

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 241):
However, note that clauses such as on the north wall … hangs a Union Jack … are not ‘attributive’ but ‘existential’. The thematically unmarked form of these clauses is that beginning with existential there: there is (hangs) a Union Jack on the north wall. The prepositional phrase then appears initially as a marked Theme; in that case the existential feature may be left implicit, although the there may still be present and will appear in any case in the mood tag: on the north wall (there) is a Union Jack, isn’t there?. In contrast, in a ‘circumstantial attributive’ clause, the Subject/Carrier is picked up in the mood tag: the sounds and smells of the ocean hang in the air — don’t they?

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Intransitive Creative Material Clauses Vs Existential Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 185):
‘Intransitive’ ‘creative’ clauses have the sense of ‘come into existence’ and shade into clauses of the ‘existential’ process type. One difference is the unmarked present tense: it is present–in–present for material clauses … but the simple present in existential ones. Another difference is the potential for a construction with there as Subject in existential clauses, but not in creative material ones.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

One Way To Analyse The Transitivity Of A Difficult Clause


The guitar lends itself well to playing pentatonic scales.



Take a trinocular perspective.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 31):
We cannot expect to understand the grammar just by looking at it from its own level; we also look into it ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, taking a trinocular perspective. But since the view from these different angles is often conflicting, the description will inevitably be a form of compromise.


QUESTION: What type of clause is it in terms of the experiential meaning being realised?

ANSWER: In terms of the meaning it is realising, the clause is an ‘attributive relational’.

REASON: An entity (guitar) has some class attributed to it (the class of things good for playing pentatonic scales)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 219):
In the ‘attributive’ mode, an entity has some class ascribed or attributed to it.


QUESTION: What type of clause is it in terms of lexicogrammatical paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations?

ANSWER: In terms of the wording realising the meaning, the clause is ‘material’.

REASON: The clause structure includes a Recipient (‘playing pentatonic scales’) of the lending process, and the Recipient is a participant restricted to ‘material’ clauses.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 191):
Recipients occur only in ‘transitive transformative’ clauses of the ‘extending’ type; and within that category, they occur with those clauses that denote a transfer of the possession of goods. …

(4) THE VIEW ‘FROM BELOW’: WORDING (group/phrase rank)

QUESTION: What type of clause is it in terms of how it is realised at the rank below?

ANSWER: ‘Material’ is not excluded by the probe for unmarked present tense of the verbal group.

REASON: The unmarked ‘present in present’ tense is used for specific doings and happenings, whereas the marked ’simple present’ tense is for generalised or habitual doings, such as construed by this clause.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 179-80):
The unmarked tense selection is the present–in–present (eg is doing) rather than the simple present (eg does) … The present–in–present serves to narrow down the present from the extended now of habits and ‘general truths’ that is characteristic of the simple present with ‘material’ clauses …


The clause is a ‘material’ realisation of an ‘attributive’ relation, and so an instance of grammatical metaphor. The structural analysis is as follows:

The guitar: Actor
lends: Process: material
itself: Goal
well: Manner: quality
to [[playing pentatonic scales]]: Recipient


FIRST OBSERVATION: the role of Actor is filled by an inanimate (guitar) rather than animate entity

COMMENT: This is at odds with the notion of Actor as the source of energy for a material process.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 179):
… ‘material’ clauses are clauses of doing–&–happening: a ‘material’ clause construes a quantum of change in the flow of events as taking place through some input of energy. … the source of the energy bringing about the change is typically a participant — the Actor … The Actor is the one who does the deed — that is, the one that brings about the change.

SECOND OBSERVATION: the role of Recipient is filled by a ‘macrothing’ (an Act) rather than a ’simple thing’, conscious or non-conscious.

COMMENT: This is at odds with the notion of Recipient as the one to whom goods are given.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 191):
The Recipient is the one that goods are given to …

Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Different Theory Makes A Different Observer

Pike (1982: 3):
The list and kind of things men will find will vary radically if they adopt different theories as tools with which to search for these units. The theory is part of the observer; a different theory makes a different observer; a different observer sees different things, or sees the same things as structured differently; and the structure of the observer must, in some sense or to some degree, be part of the data of an adequate theory of language.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Exceptionality Of Medio-Receptive Voice

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 298):
… then there are the ‘indirect participants’ functioning as Complements to prepositions, some of which … are potential Subjects; these give various other kinds of receptive such as ‘Location–receptive’, for example the bed hadn’t been slept in, ‘Manner–receptive’, for example this pen’s never been written with, and so on. Normally these are also medio–receptives, that is, they are middle not effective clauses. But receptives with idiomatic phrasal verbs, such as it’s been done away with, she’s very much looked up to, that prize has never been put in for, are often ‘true’ receptives in the sense that the prepositional phrase really represents a participant

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 289):
Except in the special case of the medio–receptive voice, the Medium is obligatory in all processes; and it is the only element that is, other than the process itself. … The Medium is also the only element that is never introduced into the clause by means of a preposition (again with the same exception of medio–receptives); it is treated as something that always participates directly in the process.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Meaning "Beyond The Clause"

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 13):
[This] does not imply, however, that the scope of ideational semantics does not extend over sequences longer than a clause complex.

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528):
Since these resources [of the textual metafunction] are oriented towards discourse, many of the “textual” systems in any language have a domain potentially higher than the clause and the clause complex; they set up relationships that create semantic cohesion, and these are not restricted by the limitations of grammatical structure.

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 530):
… the “textual” metafunctional component comprises a further set of resources, which construe clauses and clause complexes into longer stretches of discourse without the formality of further grammatical structure. … These are of four kinds: reference …, ellipsis, conjunction and lexical cohesion.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Conative Adjuncts

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 507):
… Adjuncts in the clause may relate semantically to the conative component like hard, quickly in she tried hard to write well, she quickly learnt to tell them apart
There is no need in the analysis to tie these structurally to the primary verbal group; but it is useful to specify their function, by labelling them as ‘conative Adjunct’.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Instantiate: Meaning And Etymology


verb (used with object), in·stan·ti·at·ed, in·stan·ti·at·ing.
to provide an instance of or concrete evidence in support of (a theory, concept, claim, or the like).

1945–50; < Latin instanti ( a ) (taken as combining form of instance) + -ate

Related forms
in·stan·ti·a·tion, noun
in·stan·ti·a·tive, adjective

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Contextual Preselection Of A Register Within The Semantic System

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 376):
A given contextual specification of field, tenor and mode is thus realised by “preselecting” a register within the semantic system … This contextual preselection within the semantics narrows down the overall potential to a registerial subpotential; a field specification narrows down the ideational potential from that of the overall ideation base to that of a domain model.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Verbal Process Subtype That Does Not Easily Project

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 256):
Verbs that accept a Target do not easily project reported speech; this type of clause is closer to the Actor + Goal structure of a ‘material’ clause … The source of praise, blame etc is construed either as a circumstance or as an enhancing hypotactic clause … but not as a projection …

Friday, 4 April 2014

Halliday's Distinction Between 'Text' And 'Discourse'

Halliday (2008: 78):
I do make a difference between these two; but it is a difference in point of view, between different angles of vision on the phenomena, not in the phenomena themselves. So we can use either to define the other:
  • 'discourse' is text that is being viewed in its sociocultural context, while
  • 'text' is discourse that is being viewed as a process of language.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Relational Clauses: The System Of Assignment

In a relational clause, the relation is either [assigned] or [non-assigned]. 
If [assigned], then the ASSIGNMENT TYPE is either [by projection] or [by expansion].
If the ASSIGNMENT TYPE is [by projection], then it is either [mental assignment] — in which case the Attributor or Assigner is conscious — or [verbal assignment].
If [mental assignment], then it is either [cognitive] or [desiderative].
If the ASSIGNMENT TYPE is [by expansion], then it is either [elaborating assignment] or [enhancing assignment].
See Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 217).

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Word Classes

The Word

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568):
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical [lexical item] and one grammatical [word rank].

Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 51):
Word classes were traditionally called ‘parts of speech’, through mistranslation of the Greek term meroi logou, which actually meant ‘parts of a sentence’. These began, with the Sophists, as functional concepts, rather close to Theme and Rheme; but they were progressively elaborated into, and replaced by, a scheme of word classes, defined by the kinds of inflection that different words underwent in Greek … .

Viewing Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 38):
Word classes can be viewed ‘from above’ — that is, semantically: verbs typically refer to processes, nouns to entities and adjectives to qualities (of entities or of processes). They can also be viewed ‘from round about’, at their own level, in terms of the relations into which they enter: paradigmatic relations (the options that are open to them) and syntagmatic relations (the company they keep). On either of these two axes we can establish relationships of a lexical kind (collocations and sets) and of a grammatical kind (structures and systems).

Processes, Participants And Circumstances

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 176-7):
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.

From Process Differentiation To Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 513):
… construing processes in this way clearly depends on generalising whole classes of phenomena; the grammar sets up classes of process, of participant, and of circumstance. There are various ways of doing this; one that is familiar in many languages is by means of a taxonomy of different kinds of word. The classes of word may be distinguished by their internal form, or by the way they are able to enter into larger constructions (or both).

Class & Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 52):
The class of an item indicates in a general way its potential range of grammatical functions. … But the class label does not show what part the item is playing in any actual structure. For that we have to indicate its function. The functional categories provide an interpretation of grammatical structure in terms of the overall meaning potential of the language … .

The Method Of Traditional Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 466):
A characteristic of work on grammatical semantics, where this has been based on linguistics or on natural language philosophy, is to move in at the lower ranks of the grammar rather than the higher ones, and to start with classes rather than with functions. This is a continuation of the method of traditional grammar, which (because it originated with the study of observable features of language) was word-oriented and leant heavily on word classes in its descriptive statements. We find this tendency in discussions of word classes and their semantic values — the issue of the proper interpretation of adjectives, the exploration of various verb types, and so on.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Construing Orders Of Experience

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 106):
Throughout the semantic construal of human experience, there is a differentiation between two orders of reality: between the everyday reality of our material existence on the one hand and on the other hand the second-order reality that is brought into existence only by the system of language. This is a contrast between semiotic phenomena, those of meanings and wordings, and the first-order phenomena that constitute our material environment. (Note that the linguistic processes themselves, as apprehended by our senses, are part of the first-order reality; second-order reality is formed of the meanings and wordings that these processes bring into being.)