Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics

LinC Summer School and Workshop 2016 – Introductory Course
The Introductory Course in SFL will introduce participants to the basics of SFL with a particular focus
on clausal analysis. There will be sessions on each of the three metafunctions – the experiential, the
interpersonal and the textual – as well as sessions discussing how the metafunctions combine to
make multi-stranded meaning and on potential applications of the approach. The programme is set
up to cover each topic in a lecture format followed by a workshop dedicated to each topic. This
format provides the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience in analysing grammar in a
systemic functional linguistic tradition. The programme also includes an introduction to the UAM
CorpusTool for those who are interested in learning to use it.
This course will be delivered by Lise Fontaine, Tom Bartlett and Gerard O’Grady
• Introduction to SFL
• Experiential Meaning
• Experiential Meaning workshop
• Noun group and other units and phrases
• Noun group workshop
• Interpersonal Meaning
• Workshop on Interpersonal Meaning
• Textual and information Meaning
• Workshop on Textual and information Meaning
• Introduction to the UAM CorpusTool
• Summary Session: bringing the 3 strands together
• Applying SFL Workshop: applications
Descriptions for the introductory course
Opening Lecture: Introduction to SFL
The introductory course will begin with an introductory lecture, which provides an overview of
Systemic Functional Linguistics. We will introduce the three main metafunctions and the general
principles of SFL.
Lecture: Experiential meaning
In this session we will examine how experiential content is construed through the grammar of
processes, participants and circumstances. Particular emphasis will be placed on distinguishing
process types according to their grammatical behaviour and we will look at material, relational,
verbal and mental processes and discuss the concept of borderline categories with reference to
difficult cases.
Workshop on Experiential meaning
We will analyse a text to see how different participants are categorised and how the text develops
experiential themes in relation to the genre it represents.
Lecture: The noun group and other units and phrases
This is an introduction to the building blocks of the clause, focussing on words and the way in which
they pattern and form larger units, including, noun groups, verb groups, prepositional phrases, etc.
Workshop on the noun group
The aim of this workshop is to develop the skills and strategies needed for analysing clause-internal
grammatical structures. We will focus on the structures of the various units most commonly found
within the clause and how to identify and analyse them.
Lecture: Interpersonal meaning
This lecture will provide a more detailed look at the Interpersonal metafunction, where we will
consider the meanings that relate most directly to the speaker and addressee in interaction. This will
include a look a personal meaning (modality) and interactional meaning (mood) within an SFL
framework. This introduction to interpersonal meaning will provide a good basis for the follow-on
workshop where you will get the chance to work with the main concepts and begin to focus on
lexicogrammatical analysis.
Workshop on Interpersonal meaning
This workshop concentrates on identifying units at clause level and interpreting these units in
functional terms with respect to interpersonal meanings.
Lecture: Textual and information meaning
In this session we will examine the twin systems of Theme and Information focusing especially on
Theme/Rheme Given/New and the relationship between the two. We will then look at ways in which
Theme can be explored in text, establishing key concepts such as Fries’ method of development,
Martin’s scaffolding and hyper-Theme, and Matthiessen’s points of logogenetic growth. We will also
consider the issues around applying the notions of Given/New (which are based on intonation) to
written text.
Workshop on textual and information meaning
We will analyse one or more texts to see how Theme and New were used to organise the text and
guide the reader towards salient points of interest.
Introduction to the UAM CorpusTool
This workshop offers an introduction to the UAM CorpusTool and will be held in our IT training room.
Summary Session: the full analysis
This session will provide a summary of the various types of meaning covered in the course and give
the opportunity to work with a complete text for analysis. The aim here is to clarify issues which may
have arisen during the week.
Workshop: Applying SFL
This final introductory session will demonstrate how SFL can be used in application.
Recommended Reading List – Introductory textbooks
Bloor, T. & Bloor, M. 2004. The Functional Analysis of English. London: Arnold
Eggins, S. 2004. An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Frances Pinter.
Fontaine, L. 2013. Analyzing English Grammar: A systemic-functional introduction. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Thompson, G. 2004. Introducing Functional Grammar. London: Arnold

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