Ideational Metafunction – Free download as Word Doc .doc) or read online for free. notes on a Ideational Metafunction presentation. Keywords: ideational metafunction, Joseph Conrad, heart of darkness, linguistics. 1. Introduction. In SFL, the recognition of a relationship. System Networks: Visual | Textual | Discursive transformations. THE IDEATIONAL METAFUNCTION. TYPES OF STRUCTURES/PROCESSES. PARTICIPANTS.

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In these two terms, systemic refers to the view of language as “a network of systems, or interrelated sets of options for making meaning”; [2] functional refers to Halliday’s view that language is as it is because of what it has evolved to do see Metafunction. Thus, what he refers to as the multidimensional architecture of language “reflects the multidimensional nature of human experience and interpersonal relations.

Halliday describes his grammar as built on the work of SaussureLouis Hjelmslev[4] MalinowskiJ. Firthand the Prague school linguists. In addition, he drew on the work of the American anthropological linguists BoasSapir and Whorf.

His “main inspiration” was Firthto whom he owes, among other things, the notion of language as system. Whorf “showed how it is that human beings do not all mean alike, and how their unconscious ways of meaning are among the most significant manifestations of their culture” [6]. From his studies in China, he lists Luo Changpei and Wang Li as two scholars from whom he gained “new and exciting insights into language”. He credits Luo for giving him a diachronic perspective and insights into a non-Indo-European language family.

From Wang Li he learnt “many things, including research methods in dialectology, the semantic basis of grammar, and the history of linguistics in China”. Some interrelated key terms underpin Halliday’s approach to grammar, which forms part of his account of how language works. Another key term is lexicogrammar. In this view, grammar and lexis are two ends of the same continuum. Analysis of the grammar is taken from a trinocular perspective, meaning from three different levels. So to look at lexicogrammar, it can be analyzed from two more levels, ‘above’ semantic and ‘below’ phonology.

This grammar gives emphasis to the view from above. For Halliday, grammar is described as systems not as rules, on the basis that every grammatical structure involves a choice from a describable set of options. Language is thus a meaning potential.

Grammarians in SF tradition use system networks to map the available options in a language. In relation to English, for instance, Halliday has described systems such as moodagencythemeetc. Halliday describes grammatical systems as closed, i.

By contrast, lexical sets are open systems, since new words come into a language all the time.

These grammatical systems play a role in the construal of meanings of different kinds. This is the basis of Halliday’s claim that language is metafunctionally organised. All languages have resources for construing experience the ideational componentresources for enacting humans’ diverse metafunctioon complex social relations the interpersonal componentand resources for enabling these two kinds of meanings to come together in coherent text the textual function.


For instance, the grammatical system of ‘mood’ is considered to be centrally related to the expression of interpersonal meanings, ‘process type’ to the expression of experiential meanings, and ‘theme’ to the expression of textual meanings. Traditionally the “choices” are viewed in terms of either the content or the structure of the language used. In SFG, language is analysed in three ways strata: The term “lexicogrammar” describes this combined approach.

From early on in his account of language, Halliday has argued that it is inherently functional. His early papers on the grammar of English make reference to the “functional components” of language, as “generalized uses of language, which, since they seem to determine the nature of the language system, require to be incorporated into our account of that system.

Halliday refers to his functions of language as metafunctions. He proposes three general functions: The ideational metafunction is the function for construing human experience. It is the means by which we make sense of “reality”. The logical metafunction refers to the grammatical resources for building up grammatical metafunctuon into complexes, for instance, for combining two or metafuncton clauses into a clause complex. The experiential function refers to the grammatical resources involved in construing the flux of experience through the unit of the clause.

The ideational metafunction reflects the contextual metzfunction of fieldthat is, the nature of the social process in which the language is implicated. Halliday’s An Introduction to Functional Grammar in the third edition, with revisions by Christian Matthiessen [15] sets out the description of these grammatical systems.

The interpersonal metafunction relates to a text’s aspects of tenor or interactivity. This involves looking at whether the writer or speaker has a neutral attitudewhich can be seen through the use of positive or negative language.


Social distance means how close the speakers are, e. Relative social status asks whether they are equal in terms of power and knowledge on a subject, for example, the relationship between a mother and child would be considered unequal.

Focuses here are on speech acts e.

The textual metafunction relates to mode ; the internal organisation and communicative nature of a text. Textual interactivity is examined with reference to disfluencies such as hesitators, pauses and repetitions. Spontaneity is determined through a focus on lexical densitygrammatical complexity, coordination how clauses are linked together and the use of nominal groups.

Cohesion is analysed in the context of both lexical and grammatical as well as intonational aspects [22] with reference to lexical chains [23] and, in the speech register, tonality, tonicity, and tone. Systemic functional grammar deals with all of these areas of meaning equally within the grammatical system itself. Michael Halliday outlined seven functions of language with regard to the grammar used by children: Halliday’s theory sets out to explain how spoken and written texts construe meanings and how the resources of language are organised in open systems and functionally bound to meanings.

It is a theory of language in use, creating systematic relations between choices and forms within the less abstract strata of grammar and phonology, on the one hand, and more abstract strata such as context of situation and context of culture on the other. It is a radically different theory of language from others which explore less abstract strata as autonomous systems, the most notable being Noam Chomsky ‘s.


Since the principal aim of systemic functional grammar is to represent the grammatical system as a resource for making meaning, it addresses different concerns. For example, it does not try to address Chomsky’s thesis that there is a “finite rule system which generates all and only the grammatical sentences in a language”. Thus, SFG does not describe language as a finite rule systembut rather as a system, realised by instantiations, that is continuously expanded by the very instantiations that realise it and that is continuously reproduced and recreated with use.

Metafunction – Wikipedia

Another way to understand the difference in concerns between systemic functional grammar and most variants of generative grammar is through Chomsky’s claim that “linguistics is metafnuction sub-branch of psychology “. Halliday investigates linguistics more as a sub-branch of sociology. SFG therefore pays much more attention to pragmatics and discourse semantics than is traditionally the case in formalism.

The orientation of systemic functional grammar has served to encourage several further grammatical accounts that deal with some perceived weaknesses of the theory and similarly orient to issues not seen to be addressed in more structural accounts. Examples include metafunctikn model of Richard Hudson called word grammar.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Information on Systemic Functional Linguistics. International Systemic Functional Metafuntion Association.

Retrieved 1 July Introduction to Functional Grammar2nd ed. Edited by Jonathan Webster. Dimensions of Discourse Analysis: London and New York: In “Systemic Perspectives on Discourse, Vol.

Benson and William S. Categories of the Theory of Grammar.

Systemic functional grammar

Word,17 3pp— Reprinted in full in Halliday, M. Volume 1 in the Collected Works of M.

An Introduction to Functional Grammar. Text as Semantic Choice in Social Context. Walter de Gruyter, Grammars and Descriptions. Reprinted in full in M.

Linguistic Studies of Text and Discourse. Language, context and text: Aspects of language in a social semiotic perspective. International Journal of Language and Philosophy, 6. English grammar in context, Book 2: Getting inside EnglishThe Open University, p.

English grammar in metafinction, Book 3: Getting practicalThe Open University, p. Getting practicalThe Open University, pp. Retrieved from ” https: Systemic functional linguistics Grammar frameworks. Use dmy dates from July All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from June Views Read Edit View history.

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