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2. MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited byBerti Nurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca SaktiBEKASI Page 2 GRAMMAR What do you think when you hear the wordgrammar? As a student in school you may have thought of it as a setof exercises to get right in English class. Now, as a person who isstudying language in some depth, you will find that grammar is muchmore. This section is organised around the questions: What isgrammar? Why do we need to know about grammar? How can wecharacterise or talk about grammar? What is Grammar? Grammar is atheory of language, of how language is put together and how itworks. More particularly, it is the study of wordings. What ismeant by wording? Consider the following for a moment: Times flieslike an arrow. This string of language means something; the meaningis accessible through the wording, that is, the words and theirorders; and the wording in turn, is realised or expressed throughsound or letters. Folk terminology Linguistic terminology meaningsemantics wording lexicogrammar letters/soundsorthography/phonology In some theories of grammar, lexicogrammar iscalled syntax, which is studied independentlyof semantics. In othertheories of grammar, wordings are characterised such that they areable to explain meaning. More on this in a moment. 3. MAKING SENSEOF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti NurulKhajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page3 Why Grammar? Why do we need to know about grammar? We need atheory of grammar or language which helps us understand how textswork. As teachers we need to knowhow texts work so we canexplicitly help learners learn how to understand and produce textsspoken and written in various contexts for various purposes.Several years ago one of us overhead a conversation between a Year9 student and his geography teacher. The student was asking theteacher why he had received a low mark for his project. The teacherresponded that the work just didnt hang together. The boy asked,But how do I make it hang together? The teacher responded bysuggesting that the student make the work cohere. This example isnot to criticise students or teachers. The student would have madethe text hang together in the first place had he known how. And theteacher would have explained in good faith had he known explicitlyhow texts, especially geography texts, worked. Systemic-functionalgrammar, presented in this book, perhaps more than any other theoryof language, explains how texts, inluding texts read and written inschools, work. Characterising Language This is where viewpointsbegin to diverge. Notice that weve not used the term the grammar ofEnglish. Instead, there are a number of grammars which differ inhow they characterise language, depending on the purposes of theuser. How people have characterised wordings, that is, devisedtheories of grammar, depends on the kinds of questions they haveasked about language, on what they want to find out about it.Consider for a moment the experience of six blind men meeting anelephant for the first time. One blind man felt the tail anddeclared that an elephant was like a rope; another felt the trunkand decided that an elephant was like a hose. Another, feeling theear, felt an elephant was like an umbrella. Each blind mandeveloped a theory what elephants are like. 4. MAKING SENSE OFFUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati,for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page 4Theories of language (grammars) are a bit like the blind mensexperience of the elephant. Each ended up with somewhat differentperspective. And like the blind mens experience, theories oflanguage or grammar are not inherently good or bad, right or wrong,true or false. Rather, grammars are validated by their usefulnessin describing and explaining the phenomenon called language. Asteachers, wecan further ask whether the grammar helps learners andtheir teachers to understand and produce texts. As discourseanalysts, we can ask how the grammar sheds light on how texts makemeaning. To the extent that grammar can help with these questions,it is more useful than another grammar. There are three grammarswhich have had a major influence on schools in the western world inthis century. These are as follows. Traditional Grammar Traditionalgrammar aims to describe the grammar of standard English bycomparing with Latin. As such, it is prescriptive. Students learnthe names of parts of speech (nouns, verbs, prepositions, adverbs,adjectives), parse textbook sentences and leanr to correctso-called bad grammar. Writers are taught, for example, not tostart sentences with and, to make sure the subject agrees with theverb (time flies not time fly like an arrow), to say I did it andnot I done it. Traditional grammar focuses on rules for productingcorrect sentences. In so doing, it has two main weaknesses.Firstly, the rules it prescribes are based on the language of avery small group of middle-class English speakers. Thus it can beused to discriminate against the language of working class,immigrant and Aboriginal students. (Consider Jeff Fenechs heartfeltI love youse all.) Secondly,the rules deal only with the mostsuperficial aspects of writing. Following the rules in no wayguarantees that written communication will be effective, for therules say nothing about purpose or intended audiences for writing.5. MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited byBerti Nurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca SaktiBEKASI Page 5 Formal Grammar Formal grammars are concerned todescribe the structure of individual sentences. Such grammars viewlanguage as a set of rules which allow or disallow certain sentencestructures. Knowledge of these rules is seen as being carriedaround inside the mind. The central question formal grammarsattempt to address is: How is this sentence structured? Meaning istypically shunted off into the too-hard box. Functional GrammarFunctional grammars view language as a resource for making meaning.These grammars attempt to describe language in actual use and sofocus on texts and their contexts. They are concerned not only withthe structures but also with how those structures constructmeaning. Functional grammars start with the question, How are themeanings of this text realise? Traditional and formal grammarswould analyse our earlier clause as follows: Time flies like anarrow. noun verb prepositional phrase Tim told of a tragic case.Systemic-functional grammar, on the other hand, labels elements ofthe clause in terms of the function each is playing in that clauserather than by word class. Time flies like an arrow. Participant:Actor Process: Material Cirumstance: Manner Tim told of a tragiccase. Participant: Sayer Process: Verbal Circumstance: Matter 6.MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by BertiNurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca SaktiBEKASI Page 6 In these last two clauses, the Participant (doer)roles are realised by nouns, the Processes (doing) by verbs and theCircunstance by prepositional phrases. But flying and telling aretwo quite different orders of doing, and in the above clause likean arrow tells how time flies, while of a tragic case tells whatTim was talking about. Word class labels are certainly notuseless,but they will only take you so far. They do not account fordifferences or similarities to any extent. To sum up the maindifferences in perspective among the above three grammars, thefollowing table is presented. Formal (+Traditional) FunctionalPrimary How is (should) this sentence How are the meanings concernbe structured? of this text realised? Unit of analysis sentencewhole texts Language syntax semantics level of concern Language = aset of rules for sentence = a resource for meaning constructionmaking = something we know = something we do 7. MAKING SENSE OFFUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati,for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page 7EXERCISE 1. Each of the sentences immediately below consists of twoclauses. Underline each of two clauses in each sentence. Get out ofhere or Ill scream. Mike plays trombone and Pete sax. She getscrabby when her back hurts. The passenger, who was wearing aseatbelt, wasnt hurt. The passenger who was wearing a seatbeltwasnt hurt, but the lady in the back got a nasty bump. 2. Timeflies like an arrow was segmented as follows: Time flies like anarrow How would you segment: Fruit flies like a ripe banana? 3.Identify in your own words what the purpose of each text below is.Circle all the Processes the words which tell you that something isdoing something, or that something is/was. Make a list of the doingwords for each text; likewise list all the being/having words foreach text. How does the choice of Processed used in each textreflect the purpose of the text? Text 1 A man thought he was a dog,so he went to a psychiatrist. After a while the doctor said he wascured. The man met a friend on the street. The friend asked him,How do you feel? Im fine, the man said, Just feel my nose.(Goldsweig, 1970) Text 2 Birds are the only animals with feathers.These structures make up the greater part of the wing surface andalso act as insulation, helping 8. MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONALGRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati, for theLimited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page 8 them remainwarm. Birds are the most active of the vertebrate animals and theyconsequently consume large quantities of food. (Source: Year 7Science student) 4. Change the wording of the following to makethem less ambiguous. Caution! This door is alarmed! (K-Mart,Chatswood, New South Wales) Please excuse Lorelle; she has beenunder the doctor with pneumonia. (Note from parent to roll-makingteacher) If fire alarm bell rings, evacuate quickly and quietly.(Official safety notices on back of toilet doors, The University ofSidney) 9. MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL)Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIPPanca Sakti BEKASI Page 9 THE CONTEXT TEXT CONNECTION It wassuggested above that we need a model of language that helps usunderstand how texts work to make meaning; this in turn enables usto facilitate learners interpretation and production of texts.Systemic-funcional grammar can do this. How? Because of the waythis model of language explains the connections between context andtext. Wed like to begin explaining the context text connection witha propotion: All meaning is situated In a context of situation In acontext of culture Take the utterance: Just put it beside thoseother ones. The meaning remains obscure until we know that it wassaid to a removalist who had just lugged in another carton ofhousehold goods during moving one of us to Brisbane. Knowing thecontext of situation makes the utterance intellegible. Note thatthe meaning is also culturally situated. In the Anglo way of doingthings, it is permissible to hire total strangers to pack ourmaterials goods into boxes, haul them halfway across the countryand then for these or other total strangers to tolerate carryingand being told where to put these boxes by women half their size!Removal is a cultural act no less than folk dancing. The utterancejust put it beside the other ones is meaningful within a context ofculture and context of situation. Context of culture determineswhat we can mean through Being who we are Doing what we do Sayingwhat we say This applies to all of us. Suppose, like one of us, yougrew up in mid-western United States the eldest daughter in a largefarming family. Being the eldest daughter in this circumstanceautomatically casts one in the role of mommas little helper. Thatswho you are in the family. This turn largely 10. MAKING SENSE OFFUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati,for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page 10determines what you do within the family and what you say.Protesting that you dont want to do the ironing or that the baby isa smelly brat isnt allowed. Context of situation can be specifiedthrough use of the register variables: field, tenor and mode. Fieldrefers to what is going on, including Activity focus (nature ofsocial activity) Object focus (subject matter) So field specifieswhats going on with reference to what. Tenor refers to the socialrelationships between those taking part. These are specifiable interms of Status or power (agent roles, peeror hierarchic relations)Affect (degree of like, dislike or neutrality) Contact (frequency,duration and intimacy of social contact) Think, for example, howyou say good morning to members of your family, shop assistants,work colleagues. This simple actis very much a cultural one andclearly bespeaks social relationships (tenor). Mode refers to howlanguage is being used, wether The channel of communication isspoken or written Language is being used as a mode of action orreflection For example, a mother talking her young child through atoilet-training session is spoken channel, language as action. Dr.Chris Green writing about toilet training in his book ToddlerTaming is written channel, language as reflection. As languagemoves from action to reflection there is a progressive distancingfrom the actual event and the experience becomes increasinglyvicarious. 11. MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL)Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIPPanca Sakti BEKASI Page 11 Understanding Texts Reconstructing theContext When we (over)hear or read a text, we can reconstruct itscontext of situation. For example: ... we supervise the plantingand inspect the harvest. And we buy only the pick of the crop. Ourexperienced buyers look for lack of blemish, minimum number ofeyes, pure white meaty interiors with firm frying consistency. Whatis the topic of the above text? Field Who/what kind of personproduced this text? For whom? Tenor Do you think the original waswritten or spoken? Mode We are able to reconstruct this context ofsituation because there is a systematic relationship betweencontext and text. The wordings of texts simultaneously encode threetypes of meaning: ideational, interpersonal and textual. Ideationalmeanings are meanings about phenomena about things (living andnon-living, abstract and concrete), about goings on (what thethings are or do) and the circumstances surrounding thesehappenings and doings. These meanings are realised in wordingsthrough Participants, Processes and Circumstances. Meanings of thiskind are most centrally influenced by the field of discourse.Field: growing quality potatoes for french fries. We buy only thepick of the crop Participant: Actor Process: Material Participant:Goal Field: polar bears Polar bears are expert hunters Participant:Carrier Process: Attributive Participant: Attribute 12. MAKINGSENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti NurulKhajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page12 Interpersonal meanings are meanings which express a speakersattitudes and judgments. These are meanings for acting upon andwith others. Meanings are realised in wordings through what iscalled mood and modality. Meanings of this kind are most centrallyinfluenced by tenor of discourse. Mood We inspect the growingplants every week. Declarative Brock, get those plants inspectedright now! Imperative Consider which kind of people are allowed toorder others about. Brock, do you really expect me to believe thiscrop? Mr. Brock, I find your position untenable. Consider thedegree of informality or formality. Mr. Brock is fine, upstandingemployee. Brock is lazy, incompetent fool. Consider the attitudinallexis (in italics) which expresses affect, the degree of like ordislike. Modality Fortunately, Brock is an inspector.Unfortunately, Brock is an inspector. Consider the Mood Adjuncts(italicized) which reveal attitude or judgment. The crop might beinspected. The crop should be inspected. The crop must beinspected. Consider the modal operators (italicised) which revealthe speakers certainty. Textual meanings express the relation oflanguage to its environment, including both the verbal environmentwhat has been said or written before (co-text) and the non-verbal,situational environment (context). These 13. MAKING SENSE OFFUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti Nurul Khajati,for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page 13meanings are realised through patterns of the Theme and cohesion.Textual meanings are most centrally influenced by mode ofdiscourse. The linguistic differences between the following spokenand written texts below relate primarily to differences in thematicchoices and patterns of cohesion. Textual meaning, or texture, islike a sweater. Two sweaters might be made using the same pattern,with wool of the same type. But one is knitted using large, loosestitches. This is like spoken language. The other is knittedfinely, with close stitches. This is like written language. Bothgarments are made of the same materials and serve to keep theirowners warm. But the texture of each is different. The relationshipbetween context, meanings and wordings can be summarised as shownon the following: This is yer phone bill and you hafta go to thePost Office to pay it uh, by next Monday thats what this box tellsya or theyll cut yer phone off! All phone bill must be paid by thedate shown or service will be discontinued. Context Text SemanticsLexicogrammar (meaning) (wordings) Field Ideational Transitivity(whats going on) (Processes, Participants, Circumstances) TenorInterpersonal Mood & Modality (social relations) (speech roles,attitudes) Mode Textual Theme, Cohesion (contextual coherence) 14.MAKING SENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by BertiNurul Khajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca SaktiBEKASI Page 14 Because of the bi-directionality between situationand meaning, and meaning and wording, in turn, we can predict fromthe text to context, as youve done above. We can also move fromcontext to text, as we do in writing or speaking. Given thefollowing contextual configuration, we can predict, within reason,how the text might go: Field activity focus = request for repairobject focus = security screen door in rented unit Tenor status =real estate agent and elderly, widowed tenant affect = favourable,agent and deceased husband were long time friends contact =occasional Mode channel = spoken; language as action The ability topredict from context to text is critically important for textproduction (speaking or writing) and the ability to predict fromtext to context is essential for text comprehension (listening orreading). To understand something of the text context relationshipis to understand something of how literacy is possible. 15. MAKINGSENSE OF FUNCTIONAL GRAMMAR (GEROT WIGNELL) Edited by Berti NurulKhajati, for the Limited Community of STKIP Panca Sakti BEKASI Page15 GENRE When you read the incomplete McDonalds text,you were ableto reconstruct the field, tenor and mode of that text. You alsofigured out that it was an advertisement. That is, you understoodthe purpose of that text. Advertisements are a particulartext-type, or genre. A genre can defined as a culturally specifictext-type which results from using language (written or spoken) to(help) accomplish something. Think, for example,of a typicaldoctor-patient consultation. This consultation has a purpose. Ittakes place through a series of stages, and uses language inparticular ways. So there isusually some sortof greeting; aninvitation from the doctor for the patient to describe symptoms; anexamination, during whichthe doctor tells the patient what theproblem is, if known,and how it will be treated. If not known, thedoctor explains that a referral is necessary. The consultationcloses with some kind of leave-taking. This is how it is down in anEnglish-speaking culture. In a community in which healthconsultation d


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