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Lecture 2:
1) Contributions of Chomsky and Halliday
a) Chomsky’s Universal Grammar
b) Systemic functional grammar (SFG)
2) Language and meaning
3) Linguistic forms and syntactic functions
a) Units and rank of units: Definitions
Two different schools of linguistics

Michael Halliday Noam Chomsky

Systemic Functional Grammar (SFG) Innate Linguistic Knowledge

Functionalism vs. formalism

Representative: M. A. K. Halliday, Systemic Representative: Noam Chomsky,
functional grammar Transformational-generative grammar
 Functionalism or functional linguistics →  Formalism or formal linguistics → study of
study of the form of language in reference abstract forms of language & their internal
to their social function in communication. relations

 It considers the individual as a social being  It focuses on the forms of languages as

& investigates the way in which she/he evidence of the universals without
acquires language & uses it in order to considering how these forms function in
communicate with others in her or his social communication & the ways of social life in
environment. different communities.

♫ American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist.
♫ Noam Avram Chomsky was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 7, 1928.
♫ He received his early education at Oak Lane Country Day School & Central High School,
♫ He continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania where he studied linguistics,
♫ mathematics, & philosophy.
♫ In 1955, he received his Ph. D. from the University of Pennsylvania,
♫ 1957 published syntactic structures: surface & deep structure (levels of representation).
♫ Introduction of transformational grammar
♫ 1960s: He studies grammar as a body of knowledge possessed by language users.
♫ Since the 1960s, Chomsky’s maintained that much of this knowledge is innate, implying that
children need only learn certain parochial features of their native languages
♫ Competence & performance
♫ 1986: i-language & e-language
♫ i-language: mentally represented linguistic knowledge that a native speaker of a language has.
♫ e-language encompasses all other notions of what a language is, for example that it is a body of
knowledge or behavioural habits shared by a community
♫ 1990: Chomsky abandoned the original notion of Deep Structure & Surface Structure.
♫ Initially, 2 additional levels of representation were introduced (LF — Logical Form, & PF —
Phonetic Form),
♫ In the 1990s Chomsky sketched out a new program of research known as minimalism, in which
Deep Structure & Surface Structure no longer featured & PF & LF remained as the only levels
of representation.
♫ Chomsky believes that linguistics should be concerned with the grammars internalised in the
human mind & the universal linguistic principles which he believes we are programmed with by
our human genes.
♫ He doesn’t think that social uses of language are of any serious academic interest, & he doesn’t
concern himself with texts, discourse or communication.
♫ Indeed, he argues that language is not essentially a medium of communication; it is just
something we are born with.
♫ Furthermore, Chomsky believes that linguistics is a sub-branch of psychology, whereas Halliday
investigates linguistics as it were sub-branch of sociology, therefore pays much attention to
pragmatics & discourse semantics.
♫ In fact, Chomsky emerged from the American Structuralist tradition.
♫ His work can be seen as a part of the American Structuralist tradition in many respects, though
one can’t deny its revolutionary impact.

Deep Structure
 Deep structure: underlying structure of a linguistic utterance.
 Deep structure is generated by phrase structure rules.
 The structure that contains all the units & relationships that are necessary for interpreting meaning
of the sentence.

Surface Structure
 Surface structure: directly observable actual form of sentences as they’re used in
 Surface structure is generated by transformational rules.
 Sentences or phrases that are pronounced or written.

Competence Performance
A set of rules that have been internalized in a Any actual utterances a speaker makes in a
person’s mind particular situation

Two Aspects of TG Grammar

Generative Aspect Transformational Aspect
This means that a grammar must generate all and Chomsky proposes the idea of transformation
only grammatical sentences of a language which refers to a kind of process that
transforms one sentence into another.

Transformational rules
 NP1 + Aux + V + NP2 →
John + will + write + a story
 NP2 + Aux + be + en + V + by + NP1 →
a story + will + be + en + write + by + John


♪ The initiator: Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday (M.A.K. Halliday):
♪ 1925, born in Leeds, England;
♪ 1940s, taking his BA at London University in Chinese language & literature;
♪ 1940s-50s, studying linguistics as a graduate student, first in China (Peking University & Lingnan
University, Canton) & then at Cambridge, where he received his PhD in 1955;
♪ 1955-63, holding appointments at Cambridge & Edinburgh;
♪ 1963-70, teaching at University College London;
♪ 1973-75, teaching at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle;
♪ 1976-2000 or so, teaching at the University of Sydney;
♪ Up to now, lecturing around the world, mainly in England, China, Hong Kong, Japan & India.

♀ The British born Australian linguist Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday developed his
grammatical theories out of work begun by his former tutor, the British linguist J.R. Firth.
♀ His systemic grammar put emphasis on the role of meaning in a theory of grammar.
♀ In addition, his approach to any field of linguistic study links social context with language.
♀ Furthermore, his functional approach is also applied to other disciplines including discourse
analysis & stylistics, phonology, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, language education,
& language acquisition.
♀ Halliday developed this linguistic theory.
♀ As the name suggests, it has 2 characteristics: systemic & functional.

☻ The SYSTEMIC part comes directly from the first linguistics chair in Britain John Rupert Firth.
☻ It means language elements form into systems.
☻ The use of language involves a network of systems of choices.
☻ The items in a system are in a choice relation with each other.
☻ From Bronislaw Malinowski, Halliday’s inherited the idea that language is a social
phenomenon, & emphasizes the study of language in relation to the functions it performs.
☻ Halliday is very concerned with the uses to which linguistic description can be put.
☻ He writes that his grammar is functional in the sense that it’s designed to account for how the
language is used, & he immediately goes on to talk about text: every text - that is, everything
that is said or written - unfolds in some context of use.
☻ Halliday approaches language from point of meaning & purpose, & provides a sound theoretical
framework for dealing with questions about how & why we come to use language as we do for
being & becoming who we are.

Structural Analysis
☺ 1 fundamental concept in functional grammar is basic concept where structural analysis is based
☺ These include structural units which can be arranged on a scale of rank, elements of which
they’re composed, & r/ship of realisation by means of which units of 1 rank are related
☺ A unit: any stretch of language which constitutes a semantic whole & which has a recognized
pattern that is repeated regularly in speech or writing.
☺ The 4 structural units which can be arranged in order of magnitude on what is called a rank-scale
are clause, group, word, & morpheme.
☺ The principle on which the rank scale works is that, in an actual clause, an item at any rank is
made up of 1 or more items from the rank below.
☺ Thus a clause is the maximal grammatical unit
☺ It’s made up of 1 or more groups; each group is made up of 1 or more words, & each word is
made up of 1 or more morphemes, the morpheme being the minimal unit.
☺ At each rank of linguistic unit, there are various classes of unit.
a) classes of clauses c) classes of word
b) classes of groups d) classes of morphemes.

The Classes of Clauses

♠ At the rank of clause, there are 2 distinctions:
a) independent & dependent clauses b) finite & infinite clauses.
♠ The 1st distinction is btwn independent & dependent clauses.
♠ An independent clause is complete in itself
♠ A dependent clause is necessarily related to an independent clause.
♠ E.g.: We locked up the house, before we went on holiday.
“We locked up the house” is the independent clause & “before we went on holiday” is the
dependent clause.
♠ The 2nd distinction is btwn finite & infinite clauses, & this depends on the form of verb chosen
♠ If the speaker wishes to express tense, person or number, a finite form of the verb is chosen (is,
eats, locked, went) & the clause is then called a finite clause.
♠ On the other hand, if the verb form doesn’t express this info about the verbal process, the verb &
the clause are classified as non-finite.
♠ The non-finite verb forms are the infinitive (be, eat, lock, go), the participial ing-form (being,
eating, locking, going), & the past participial form (been, eaten, locked, gone).
♠ Finally, clauses like can you?, I won’t, has he? are called abbreviated clauses.

The Classes of Groups

♣ Groups are classified according to the class of word operating as the main or head element.
♣ That is to say, we can identify the following classes:
a) Nominal groups c) Adverbial groups e) Adjectival groups
b) Verbal groups d) Prepositional groups

The Classes of Words

♥ Words are classified grammatically according to the traditional terminology, which includes
noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, pronoun, article & conjunction.
♥ Words are made up of morphemes.

The Classes of Morphemes

 The morpheme is an abstract category which has either a lexical or grammatical meaning.
 A word such as effects can be considered as formed from the lexical morpheme {effect} + the
{plural} morpheme.
 These abstract categories are realised by morphs such as effect & –s or /ifekt/ & /s/, the actual
segments of written & spoken language, respectively.
 Since the study of words & morphemes takes us out of syntax & into morphology & phonology,
they won’t be treated in detail

Meta-functions (Macro functions)

a) Ideational function
b) Textual function
c) Interpersonal function

Ideational Function (Experiential)

 Language represents our experience of the world & of the inner world of our feelings & thoughts.
 It has to do with how we talk about actions, feelings situations, states, etc.
 The ideational function is to organize the speaker’s or writer’s experience of the real or imaginary
world, i.e. language refers to real or imagined persons, things, actions, events states, etc.
 Language can be used to conceptualize the world.
 The linguistic forms can represent our experience.
 This is the ideational function of language.
 This shows the design feature of displacement & specialization.

Interpersonal Function
֎ The way we act upon 1 another thru language, how we interact with other people – giving &
requesting info, etc- & how we express our judgment & attitudes
֎ Language serves to set up & maintain social & personal relations, including communication roles
such as questioner & respondent, & to express the language user’s own attitudes & comments on
the content of an utterance.
֎ This is the interpersonal function of language.
֎ The interpersonal function is to establish, or maintain social relationships btwn people.

Textual Function
♯ The way in which language is organized in relation to its context.
♯ It’s important in the creation of coherence in spoken & written text.
♯ Language makes links with itself & with features of the situation in which it is used.
♯ This is what enables the speaker or writer to construct a text, & enables the listener or reader to
distinguish a text from a set of sentences.
♯ This is the textual function of language.
♯ The textual function is to create written or spoken TEXTS which cohere within themselves &
which fit the particular situation in which they are used.


 A functional grammar aims to match forms to function & meaning in context.
 We’ve already introduced the 3 strands of meaning that form the basis of a functional
interpretation of grammar: the representational, the interpersonal & the textual.
 Each of these strands is encoded in the clause (or simple sentence) as a type of structure.
 The 3 structures are mapped onto one another, illustrating how the 3 types of meaning combine in
1 linguistic expression.

 In the following dialogue, we can distinguish various types of communicative act, or speech act,
by which people communicate with each other: making statements, asking questions, giving
directives with the aim of getting the hearer to carry out some action, making an offer or promise,
thanking or expressing an exclamation.
 Here is part of a recorded conversation taken from a sociological project of the University of
 The speakers are Janice, a girl who runs a youth club & disco in an English town, & Chris, one of
the boys in the club, who is 19 & works in a shop.

 In a communicative exchange such as this, btwn 2 speakers, the kind of meaning encoded as
questions, statements, offers, reminders & thanks is interpersonal meaning.
 Asking & stating are basic communicative acts.


 Every speech act, whether spoken or written, takes place in a social context.
 Such contexts have to do with our own or someone else’s experience of life & the world at large,
that is, the doings & happenings in which we are involved or which affect us.
 Any happening or state in real life, or in an imaginary world of the mind, can be expressed
through language as a situation or state of affairs.
 Used in this way, the terms ‘situation’ or ‘state of affairs ‘don’t refer directly to an extra-linguistic
reality that exists in the real world, but rather to the speaker’s conceptualisation of it.
 The components of this conceptualisation of reality are semantic roles or functions & may be
described in very general terms as follows:
 processes: that is, actions, events, states, types of behaviour;
 participants: that is, entities of all kinds, not only human, but inanimate, concrete & abstract,
that are involved in the processes;
 attributes: that is, qualities & characteristics of the participants;
 circumstances: that is, any kind of contingent (subject to chance) fact or subsidiary (less
important) situation which is associated with the process or the main situation.
 These concepts are illustrated in the following example:
I will come into your shop tomorrow.
participant participant participant participant

 The kind of meaning expressed by these elements of semantic structure is representational

meaning, or meaning that has to do with the content of the message.


 The clause or simple sentence is the basic unit that embodies our construal of representational
meaning & interpersonal meaning.
 The clause is also the unit whose elements can be reordered in certain ways to facilitate the
creation of textual meaning.
 The textual resources of the clause, such as the active–passive alternative, enable the
representational strand & the interpersonal strand of meaning to cohere as a message, not simply
as a sentence in isolation, but in relation to what precedes it in the discourse.
 Each type of meaning is encoded by its own structures; the three types of structure combine to
produce one single realisation in words.
 To summarise, the three kinds of meaning derive from the consideration of a clause as:
(a) the linguistic representation of our experience of the world;
(b) a communicative exchange btwn persons;
(c) an organised message or text.



 We shall outline the basic syntactic concepts on which our structural analysis is based.
 These include the structural units which can be arranged by rank, the classes into which these
units can be divided, & the elements of which they are composed.
 We shall also consider the ways units of one rank are related to those above or below them.


 Before attempting to see how a stretch of language can be broken down into units, it is useful to
be able to reinforce our intuitions as to where boundaries lie.
 This can be done by applying certain tests in order to identify whether a particular sequence of
words is functioning as a constituent of a higher unit or not.
 For instance, the following sequence, which constitutes a grammatical clause or simple sentence,
is ambiguous:
Ali saw the man in the service station.
 Two interpretations are possible, according to how the units that make up the clause are
grouped into constituents, expressed graphically as follows:
|| Ali | saw | the man in the service station ||
|| Ali | saw | the man || in the service station ||
 In version 1, the prepositional phrase in the service station forms part of the constituent
whose head-word is man (the man in the service station) & tells us something about the man;
 In version 2 the same prepositional phrase functions separately as a constituent of the clause
& tells us where Ali saw the man.


 Language isn’t a series of words strung together like beads on a string.
 Language is patterned, that is, certain regularities can be distinguished throughout every linguistic
manifestation in discourse.
 A unit will be defined as any sequence that constitutes a semantic whole & which has a
recognised pattern that is repeated regularly in speech & writing.
 For instance, the previous sentence is a unit containing other units such as a recognised pattern &
in speech & writing.
 Sequences such as defined as any & repeated regularly in, which also occur in the same sentence,
don’t constitute units since they’ve no semantic whole & no syntactic pattern.
 The following sequence, which comments on the effects of a nuclear accident, constitutes one
syntactic unit which is composed of further units:
The effects of the accident are very serious.
 In English, it is useful to recognise four structural units which can be arranged in a relationship of
componence on what is called a rank-scale as given in the following table:
Unit Boundary marker Example
Clause: || || the effects of the accident are very serious ||
Group: | | the effects of the accident | are | very serious |
Word: a space the effects of the accident are very serious
Morpheme: + {EFFECT} + {PLURAL}, realised by the morphs effect and -s

 For the initial stages of analysis it may be helpful to mark off the boundaries of each unit by a
symbol, such as those adopted in the example.
 The symbol for ‘clause boundary’ is a double vertical line ||, that for ‘group boundary’ is a
single vertical line |, & that for ‘word boundary’ is simply a space, as is conventionally used in
the written language.
 The independent clause is the equivalent of the traditional ‘simple sentence’ (independent clause
= simple sentence).
 The relationship btwn the units is, in principle, as follows.
 Looking downwards, each unit consists of 1 or more units of the rank below it.
 Thus, a clause consists of one or more groups, a group consists of one or more words & a word
consists of one or more morphemes.
 For instance, Wait! consists of one clause, which consists of one group, which consists of one
word, which consists of one morpheme.
 More exactly, we shall say that the elements of structure of each unit are realised by units of the
rank below.


Classes of Clauses
A. Finite & non-finite clauses
 Non-finite verbs include:
1. the infinitive (inf.) (be, eat, lock, go) sometimes called the ‘bare’ infinitive;
2. the to-infinitive (to-inf); (to read, to understand, to fail)
3. the participle -ing form (-ing) (being, eating, locking, going);
4. the past participle form, symbolised in this course as -en (been, eaten, locked, gone).
to-infinitive clause They want to hire a caravan.
bare infinitive clause Tim helped her carry her bags upstairs.
-ing participial clause We found Ann sitting in the garden.
-en participial clause The invitations were sent written by hand.

B. Independent & dependent clauses

 An independent clause is complete in itself - doesn’t form part of a larger structure
 A dependent clause is typically related to an independent clause.
 This is illustrated in the following sentence:
They locked up the house (indep.cl), before they went on holiday (dep.cl).
 All grammatically independent clauses are finite.
 Dependent clauses may be finite or non-finite.
 In the previous example, the finite dependent clause before they went on holiday can be
replaced by a non-finite clause before going on holiday.
 The dependent status of non-finite clauses is signalled by the form itself.
 Only independent clauses have the variations in clause structure that make for the different
clause types: declarative, interrogative, imperative & exclamative.
declarative Jack’s flat is in Hammersmith.
interrogative Is his address 20 Finchley Road?
imperative Give me Jack’s telephone number.
exclamative What a large apartment he has!

Classes of Groups
 Groups are classified according to the class of the word operating as the main or ‘head’ element.
 Headed by a noun, an adjective, an adverb & a verb respectively, we can identify the following
1. Nominal Groups (NG) 3. Adjectival Groups (AdjG)
 films ● good,
 quite good at languages ● wonderful films by Fellini
2. Verbal Groups (VG) 4. Adverbial Groups (AdvG) fluently
 return ● very fluently indeed
 will return

Classes of Words
 Words are classified grammatically according to the traditional terminology, which includes
noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, pronoun, article & conjunction.
 These ‘parts of speech’ are divided into two main classes, the open & the closed.
 The open classes are those that freely admit new members into the vocabulary.
 They comprise noun, verb, adjective & adverb.
 The closed classes (preposition, pronoun & article) don’t easily admit new members.
 Prepositions have gradually expanded their membership somewhat by admitting participles such
as including, concerning, but remaining classes are very resistant to introduction of new items.
 This has been noticeable in recent years when attempts have been made to find gender-neutral

Classes of Morphemes
 Words are made up of morphemes.
 We shall consider the morpheme to be an abstract category that has either a lexical or a
grammatical meaning.
 We’ve already indicated a word such as effects can be considered as formed from the lexical
morpheme {EFFECT} + the {PLURAL} morpheme.
 These abstract categories are realised by morphs such as effect & -s or /ifekt/ & /s/, the actual
segments of written & spoken language, respectively.


 The term ‘structure’ refers to relationships that exist btwn small units that make up a larger unit.
 E.g.: basic components of a table are a flat board & 4 long thin pieces of wood or metal, but these
elements don’t constitute a structure until they’re related to each other as a horizontal top
supported at the corners by 4 vertical legs.
 In this way, each ‘element’ is given its position & its ‘function’, which together we may call the
‘grammar’ of all those members of the general class of objects called ‘table’.

Componence, realisation and function

 We’ve syntactic elements for the clause & the syntactic elements of groups.
 Any structure can be considered to be composed of elements which form a configuration of
‘functions’, whether semantic functions such as Agent-Process-Affected or syntactic functions
such as the clause configuration Subject-Predicator-Direct Object or the modifier-head-modifier
structure of the nominal group.
 Each of these functions is in turn realised by a unit which is itself, at least potentially, a
configuration of functions, & these in turn are realised by others until the final stage is reached
and abstract categories such as subject, head, modifier, etc., are finally realised by the segments
of the spoken or written language.
 The ‘structural tree’ on the following slide diagrams this model of analysis at the three unit ranks
of clause, group & word, to illustrate the clause The bus strike will affect many people tomorrow.