Systemic Functional Approach to Linguistics

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Systemic Functional Approach to Linguistics

By | April 2013
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Systemic functional linguistics is the study of the relationship between language and its functions in social setting. In systemic functional linguistics, three strata make up the linguistic system: meaning (semantics), sound (phonology) and wording or lexicogrammar (syntax, morphology and lexis). Systemic functional linguistics treats grammar as a meaning-making resource and insists on the interrelation of form and meaning.

According to Halliday, language has developed in response to three kinds of social functional ‘needs’. The first is to be able to construe experience in terms of what is going on around us and inside of us. The second is to interact with the social world by negotiating social roles and attitudes. The third and final need is to be able to create messages with which we can package our meanings in term of what is New or Given, and in terms of what the starting for our message is, commonly referred to as the Themes. Halliday calls the language functions Metafunctions, and refers to them as Ideational, Interpersonal and Textual respectively. Halliday’s point is that any piece of language calls into play all three metafunctions simultaneously. According to SFG, functional bases of grammatical phenomena are divided into three broad areas, called metefunctions: the ideational,the interpersonal and the textual. Written and spoken texts can be examined with respect to each of these metafunctions in register analyses. The ideational metafunction relates to the field aspects of a text, or its subject matter and content of use. Field is divided into three areas: semantic domain, specialisation and angle of representation. Witin the semantic domain, SFG proponents examine the subject matter of a text through organising its nouns, lexical verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Thes are the words which carry meaning in text, as opposed to function words, whose purpose is grammatical. Specialisation is partially determined through attention to jargon...
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