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Review of The Functional Analysis of English, Second edition
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 02:15:12 -0700 (PDT) From: Alireza Khormaee Subject: The Functional Analysis of English: A Hallidayan Approach, 2nd ed.
AUTHOR: Bloor, Thomas; Bloor, Meriel TITLE: The Functional Analysis of English, 2nd ed. SUBTITLE: A Hallidayan Approach PUBLISHER: Arnold YEAR: 2004
Ali Reza Khormaee, Department of English Literature & Linguistics, Kordestan University
The book under review is intended as an introduction to Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) based on the functional analysis of English. The theoretical model taken is that of Halliday (1994) and Halliday and Matthiesen (2004). The audience is considered to be the students new to English as well as specialists in other fields, such as discourse analysis, media students and gender studies. The book is organized into twelve chapters. Chapter 1 and 2 introduce some theoretical principles and basic terminology. Chapters 3 through 10 illustrate different aspects of SFG, chapter 11 shows the applications of SFG, and finally chapter 12 gives us a historical overview of certain approaches - past and present. All the twelve chapters contain a section named "Further Study" which suggests some related books and papers. Chapters 3 to 10 also include exercises that get the reader practically engaged in the terms, notions and concepts introduced.
Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to some theoretical and practical principles basic to the type of the analysis put forward in the book . They are as following:
1. Language is a system of meanings .That is, through our language acts, we produce meaning by means of lexical choices, grammatical resources, and linguistic forms. 2. Our linguistic choices are mainly unconscious. They are, of course, heavily dependant on the context. 3. The complex aspects of the situation in which language is used dictate our way of using language. Different situations necessitate different uses. 4. The unit of study is attested texts- the text being any stretch of language, spoken or written, for the purpose of real people's communication in actual circumstances . 5. The main unit of structure and, of course, the major unit of grammatical analysis is the clause which is itself part of a rank starting with clause, going through group and word, and ending with morpheme. 6. The term function, which plays a central role in SFG, is generally divided into three categories: grammatical function, communicative function, and metafunction. Metafunction is, in turn, classified into three subcategories, namely ideational (experiential and logical), interpersonal, and textual metafunctions.
Chapter 2 is also an introductory one. It starts with the parable of a lunatic dictator banning the technical terms. The parable is used to show the necessity of terminology in any science, including linguistics. The authors go on to brief the reader with the nine word classes accepted in English within SFG. They are noun, pronoun, adjective, numeral, determiner, verb, preposition, and conjunction. Part of the chapter is dedicated to defining subject as a context-dependant concept and the tests used in English for detecting it. A section deals with the notion of group and introduces nominal group, verbal group, adverbial group, conjunction group, and prepositional group. The chapter ends with a brief description of three approaches toward clause, namely "clause as exchange", "clause as message", and "clause as representation" which are respectively discussed with more details in chapters 3, 4, and 6.
Chapter 3 deals with the internal structure of the clause. It starts with a revisiting of subject which includes apposition, tests for detecting subject in a clause (subject-finite agreement test, question tag test, yes- no question test), subjects in passive clauses, and dummy subjects. One section brings us a discussion of the division of the verbal group into Finite and Predicator and their respective role in turning sentences into negative and interrogative, dividing clause into Mood (subject + finite) and Residue (Predicator, Complement, Adjunct), and finally the link between the system of Mood (indicative vs. imperative) and the system of Polarity (positive vs. negative) within a clause. In the next section, the authors, following Berry (1975), treat the concept of Complement as an element within the clause which fills who or what slot after the verb. Complements are classified into direct object, indirect object, and intensive Complements. The pre-final section includes a discussion of Adjunct as a grammatically optional element in a clause and its classifications: circumstantial, conjunctive, and modal. The final section provides the reader with the analysis of a sample text as far as the internal elements of the clause are concerned. In short, chapter 3 covers the internal components of the clause: Subject, verbal group, Complement, and Adjunct. It elaborates on the idea of "clause as exchange".
Chapter 4 brings the information structure and thematic structure of the clause into focus. First, it discusses the information structure (how the clause serves as a means of information packaging) and consequently the context-dependant dichotomy of given/new information in written and spoken English. A section is dedicated to the thematic structure which introduces the twin notions of theme and rheme. This section goes on to show that, in English, subject, Predicator, Complements, and circumstantial Adjunct can function as theme. It also treats unmarked themes in declaratives, interrogatives, wh-interrogatives, imperatives, and exclamatives. Marked theme in declarative clauses is another item covered. This section ends with some points about simple themes versus multiple themes. The last section shows the interaction of the thematic and information structure and the relevant linguistic opportunities and choices this interaction makes available to speakers/writers. This chapter discusses the notion of "clause as message".
Chapter 5 is on the textual metafunction. That is, how language users apply the given-new structure, theme-rheme structure, and cohesive devices to longer stretches of language in order to give them texture (the quality of being text). The authors, using an example text, brief us on what the thematic progression and cohesive devices are, and how they play their role in "texturizing" any stretch of language. They introduce three common patterns of thematic progression, namely the constant theme pattern, the linear theme pattern, and the split rheme pattern. Bloor and Bloor also discuss the pattern of derived themes. They dedicate the rest of the chapter to the description of cohesive ties: reference, substitution, ellipsis, conjunction, and lexical cohesion. Reference is limited to endophoric reference (within the text) and two classification are presented, cataphoric (forward- looking) and anaphoric (backward- looking). Reference is also divided into personal, demonstrative, and comparative. Substitution is defined as a mechanism through which we avoid the repetition of lexical items, using grammatical resources. It is subdivided into nominal, verbal, and clausal substitution. Ellipsis is the omission of words, groups, and clauses with three classifications: nominal, verbal, and clausal. Lexical cohesion is described as the choosing of an item based on the previous choices. Reiteration, near- synonyms, mutually exclusive categories, antonyms, collocations, and general nouns come under the umbrella of lexical cohesion. We can conclude that chapter 5 illustrates that how speakers/writers resort to the linguistic resources (thematic structure, information structure, cohesive ties) to realize the textual metafunction.
Chapter 6 tells how a clause realizes the ideational metafunction. It treats the clause as a means of representing the world (clause as representation). To do this, the authors introduce two crucial concepts, Process and Participant. Process has two interrelated senses: (1) what is going on in the clause as a whole; (2) that part of the clause that encodes the Process, verbal group. Participants are the entities taking part in the Process. Processes are classified into four major categories: materia, mental, relational, verbal . Material Process (kill, eat) is an action-type Process, which is classified into intransitive (involving only an Actor-Participant), transitive (containing a Goal-Participant in addition to an Actor), and ditransitive (having a Beneficiary-Participant in addition to Actor and Goal). Mental Process (see, know) expresses a psychological event. The related Participants are Senser (the entity experiencing the Process) and Phenomenon (that which is experienced). Relational Process is typically encoded by copular verbs, and is divided into attributive Process in which an Attribute (hungry) is attributed to a Carrier (John) and identifying Process which involves an Identifier- Participant and an Identified-Participant (John is his name). Verbal process includes a Sayer and a Quoted in case of direct speech or a Reported when dealing with indirect speech. This chapter also provides us with a discussion of grammatical metaphor in the sense that a congruent form is substituted by a non-congruent form. There are three types of grammatical metaphors : experiential in which a process is turned into a noun ( nominalization ), logical where, for example, two processes of the type X because Y is rendered into the type X is Y, and interpersonal in which modal verbs are expressed by adverbs, adjectives, or nouns. A final short section is on the concept of Circumstance as an element which is neither a Process nor a Participant and which deals with temporal and physical settings and the manner in which the Process is realized. This chapter demonstrates how Process, Participant, and Circumstance within the clause help language users represent the world, real or imaginary.
Chapter 7 tells us about the structure of the nominal group (head, modifier: pre-modifier and post-modifier).We are told that modifiers can be approached from two points of view. Either we can consider them as elements realizing logical metafunction within the nominal group because they stand in dependency relation to a head, or we can take them as constituents materializing experiential metafunction since they tell us things about the world around us concerning a head. The latter is taken by the authors for their practical purpose, while not denying the former. Modifiers as having experiential function are classified into five groups: deictics (these stations) numeratives (two stations), classifiers (bus station), epithets (noisy station), and qualifiers (a station over the corner). The first four ones are all pre-modifiers and the last one is conflated with post-modifiers. Within the nominal group, the head has the experiential function of thing, with the thing being general enough to include anything that can serve as a head, and at the same time representing a class (station, girl, box, resistance). One section is dedicated to the difference between prepositional phrases as qualifiers and prepositional phrases as Adjuncts, and another to the embedding of prepositional phrases within prepositional phrases when acting as qualifiers. Two final sections are respectively on the nominal group complexes and other complexes. In summary, this chapter gives us a general view of the nominal group structure.
Chapter 8 is on the embedding of clauses. It starts with a discussion of a clause embedded within a nominal group, and thereby introducing the notions embedded or rankshifted clause and superordinate clause. The chapter goes on to provide us with some points on the types of the embedded clauses within nominal groups (defining or restrictive relative clauses and non-defining or non-restrictive relative clauses), contact clauses in which the relative pronoun is omitted and the related stylistic options, rankshifted clauses in which the relative pronoun is the complement of a preposition and the relevant stylistic issues, and non- finite (reduced) relative clauses. A section discusses multiple embedding. Toward the end of the chapter, a discussion is presented concerning embedded clauses, whether finite or non-finite, functioning as subject or Complement, and postposed (extra posed) clauses. This chapter provides, in each section, a functional analysis of the internal structure of the clause based on the terms and notions introduced in chapter 3 (subject, Predicator, Finite, Complement, Adjunct). It gives us a functional view of the embedding of clauses in English within SFG.
Chapter 9 studies the expansion of a clause by means of producing clause complexes. These complexes are a combination of two or more clauses through linking equal clauses called parataxis, or binding one clause to another in a dependency relationship referred to as hypo- taxis. Linking equal clauses is carried out using linking conjunctions or linkers (and, or, so, but) traditionally termed as coordinate conjunctions. In binding one clause to another, we have one dominant and one dependent clause. The binding is realized through binding conjunctions or binders traditionally known as subordinate conjunctions. Three subsections are respectively about the sequence of clauses when dealing with hypotaxis and parataxis, non-finite dependent clauses, and the differences between defining relative clauses and non-defining relative clauses, the most important of which is considering defining ones as instances of parataxis and non- defining ones as tokens of hypotaxis. A final section presents us some examples of more complicated clause complexes, showing instances of multiple hypotaxis and parataxis.
Chapter 10 looks at clause complexes from a logical point of view. That is, how a clause projects another (projection vs. expansion). Projection is of two types. One is paratactic and the other hypotactic. Paratactic projection involves direct speech or thought where a main clause stands in parataxis to a clause expressing direct speech or thought ( He said "I saw it on TV- I thought "This is the end of road for me).Hypotactic projection includes cases in which a main clause projects another clause representing an indirect speech or thought (Nick said there were fifty of you - He thought that the origin had one grave defect). This chapter also briefs on cases of non-finite projection where we have one clause projecting a non- finite clause (He told me to do it). There exists a section on grammatical metaphor (nominalization). This is a process through which a projecting verb turns into a projecting noun:
He argued that she was wrong. His argument that she was wrong ...
The difference lies in the fact that, in the former, we have a dependent clause and in the latter an embedded one. The two final sections provide us respectively with examples of more complicated clause complexes and ambiguous clause complexes.
Chapter 11 is designed to show the applications of SFG because the authors, following Halliday (1994) believe that theories are "means of action" and must have applications. This is realized by showing the uses of the functional analysis of English in analyzing scientific texts and valued texts, and by illustrating how SFG in English can put forward guidelines and helps in areas such as language development and teaching, language and power, language and literature, not to mention other areas. In short, this chapter establishes the point that theories in general and linguistic theories in particular are not for mere theorizing, hence denying the idea of theory for the sake of theory . Therefore, reading through the chapter, we are brought to the conclusion that the functional analysis of language in general and of English in particular is helpful because it goes beyond sheer theorizing.
Chapter 12 gives us a historical overview which encompasses the ideas and theories of the beginning of the twentieth century modern linguistics (de Saussure), American linguistics(Sapir, Whorf, Bloomfield, Chomsky), the Prague School (Trubetskoy, Jacobson, Mathesius, Firbas), and founders of functional linguistics (Malinowski, Firth). It also introduces some alternative functional approaches, like those of Givon, Dik, and Fawcett. This chapter tries to demonstrate some affinities and contrasts concerning SFG as formulated by Halliday.
The Bloor and Bloor's book has an accessible style. Reading the book, the reader feels safe and home with the basics of SFG analytic framework and can approach other more detailed introductions and more technical books and papers. The followings are among its merits: 1. Real authentic examples; 2. Clear definitions, descriptions, and classifications; 3. Exercises and the answer key; 4. The "Further Study" section; and 5. The glossary.
Berry, M. (1975) Introduction to Systemic Linguistics: 1. Structures and Systems. London:Batsford.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1994) Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday M. A. K. & C. M. I. M. Matthiesen (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
I have a Ph. D. in linguistics from Tehran University. My area of interest is syntax-information structure interface. The title of my Ph. D. dissertation is "Noun Phrase Topicalization in Persian: A Syntactodiscoursal Approach" in which I studied noun phrase topicalization based on two approaches, namely Government & Binding and information structure, and arguing for the merits of the information structure approach over Government & Binding.