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Transitivity

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AHMED QADOURY ABED
HALLIDAY'S TRANSITIVITY AND THEME & RHEME

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Transitivity

  1. 1. 1TRANSITIVITY & THEME AND RHEMEAHMED QADOURY ABEDIn SFG, language is seen as being organized around three complementary metafunctions:ideational, interpersonal and textual. The idea of „metafunctional diversity‟ (ormetafunctional complementarity) is a hypothesis about the organization of language on twolevels:(1) on a macro level, it is a hypothesis about the way in which language, as a semioticsystem, plays a role in human life in general;(2) on a more specific, linguistic level, it is a hypothesis about the way in which linguisticstructure is organized.DEFINITIONTransitivity is concerned with the transmission of world-view.Transitivity generally refers to how meaning is represented in the clauseIt plays a role in showing how speakers encode in language their mental picture ofreality and how they account for their experience of the world around themDEVELOPMENT OF THE TERMTransitivity was developed as the concept of transitive or intransitive verb(Halliday,1976:159) whether the verb takes an object or not, but in SFL it functions to linkgrammar to the meta functions; however, in Halliday‟s terms, transitivity as a majorcomponent in experiential function of the clause deals with the “transmission of ideas“representing „processes‟ or „experiences‟: actions, events, processes of consciousness andrelations” (1985:53)In Halliday‟s concept of transitivity there are three components of what he calls a transitivityprocess:(i) the process itself(ii) participants in the process(iii) circumstances associated with the processThe process is realized by a verbal group,the participant(s) by (a) nominal group(s) (although there may be exceptions here), andthe circumstance(s) by (an) adverbial group(s) or prepositional phrase(s)(Halliday,1985:101)TYPES OF PROCESSESHalliday proposes three major (and other three minor) types of processes that exist in thetransitivity system of English, and the different types of the semantic roles which areassociated with each process.1- Material Processes2- Mental Processes3- Relational Processes4- Behavioural Processes5- Verbal Processes
  2. 2. 26- Existential ProcessesMATERIAL PROCESSESThese are the processes of DOING. They convey the image that some entity DOESsomething that may be done to some other entity ( Halliday,1985:103). These processesinvolve two inherent participants roles: the obligatory ACTOR which is assigned to thedoer of the process expressed by the clause ; and the optional GOAL which is assigned tothe entity affected by the process. Material processes can be:1- Action process (where the processes are performed by animate actors)i- intention processes (the actor performs the act voluntarily)ii- supervension process (the act happens by its own)2- Event process (where the processes are performed by inanimate actors)John kicked the ball.Actor Process Goal(material)John hit the man very hard. in the bayActor Process Goal Circumstancematerial Manner PlaceMENTAL PROCESSESThese processes encompass senses of feelings, thinking and perceiving. They include twoparticipants: the first one is the SENSOR who is the conscious being ,and thePHENOMENON which is the sensed, felt or thought. Mental processes can be subdividedinto (Halliday,1985:106-111):1- Perception processes as seeing, hearing, etc.2-Affection processes as liking, fearing, etc.3- Cognition processes as in thinking, knowing ,etc.Cognition : I don‟t understand his theory.Senser mental PhenomenonAffection : I fear the coming war.Senser mental PhenomenonPerception : I heard the musicSenser mental Phenomenon.
  3. 3. 3RELATIONAL PROCESSESThese are the processes of BEING. The fundamental meaning of clauses expressing suchprocesses is that something is. These indicate that some relationship connects between twoparticipants without implying that one participant affects the other in any way. Theseprocesses can be subdivided into:1- Intensive processes (expressing an „X is a‟ relatiuonship)2- Possessive processes (expressing an „X has a‟ relationship)3- Circumstantial processes (expressing an „X is at/on a „ relationship)John is talentedCarrier attributing attributeJohn is the leader.identified identifying identifierBEHAVIOURAL PROCESSESThis type of processes is concerned with physical and psychological behaviours likebreathing, dreaming , smiling ,etc. This type lies between material and mental processes.The BEHAVER is a conscious sensor ,but the process expresses a meaning of doing. Mostof the clauses of behavioural processes have just one participant.John is crying.Behaver Process : behavioralSome other examples of behavioral processes are sit, dance, sing,near material processes, think, watch, look, listennear mental processes, talk, gossip, grumble, chatterVERBAL PROCESSESVerbal processes are those of saying. But saying here implies a rather broad sense; itincludes any type of symbolic exchange of meaning. This type involves two participants:the first one is the SAYER who is speaking, and the second is of three kinds:1- The Verbiage (which means the verbalization itself).2- The Receiver (the one to whom the verbalization is addressed)3- The Target (the direct participant on whom the sayer acts verbally with such verbs asinsult ,praise,etc.)EXISTENTIAL PROCESSES
  4. 4. 4Existential processes represent that something exists or occurs as in „There seems to be aproblem‟. The word „there‟ in this example is semantically empty and has norepresentational functions, but it is required just to occupy the subject position in theclause.These clauses must contain the verb BE or some other verb of existence followed bya noun phrase taking the role of the existent, The existent may be a phenomenon as in„There followed an angry debate‟ ,or an event as in „There was a war‟. Existential clausesoften contain a circumstantial element as in „There was a war in 2004‟.The committee announced that the new bill will be passed.Sayer verbal VerbiageI told her how to play the piano.Sayer verbal Target VerbiageThere was a little house on the big prairie.existential Existent Circumstance PlaceNUMBER OF PARTICIPANTSBehavioural and existential processes have only one participant each, whereas the otherprocesses may have two. Second participants of material and relational processes may ormay not be present.Two further points:firstly, the participants are usually represented bynominal groups, and secondly, processes with single participants make use of intransitiveverbs, whilst those with two participants make use of transitive verbs (except for relationalprocesses which make use of intensive verbs).ANALYSIS OF HOA PLAM‟ “HEROIC MOTHER”Hoa Pham‟s “Heroic Mother” is a short story which was published in 2008. Hoa Pham isan Australian Vietnamese author and playwright. I am taking this biographicalinformation from her website, so I hope it is correct. She was awarded the 2001 SydneyMorning Herald‟s Young Writer of the Year for her novel Vixen.Currently, she is the editorof Peril, an online journal of arts and culture for Asian Australians. She has alreadypublished two novels, namely Quicksilver and Vixen, several children‟s books including No-one Like Me and 49 Ghosts, short stories “Reality”, “Yolk”, and “Heroic Mother”, andmore recently, two plays Silence and I could be you.1a My family think1b I‟m a little crazy.2a They say it,2b then ^ they zoom off on their nice new mopeds,2c or their kids turn on the TV
  5. 5. 52d and ^ they watch their cartoon American movies.3a I smile at them3b and ^ I make3c as if I do not understand3d when they speak in English3e when I‟m around.4 Hanoi has changed so much.5a In the early morning I do my exercises near Hoan Kiem Lake with the group ofHeroic Mothers,5b and we follow the instructions of our leader, Vuong.6a It‟s funny6b how we all still defer to her,6d she is high up in rank in the Women‟s Union.7a We all have families of our own,7b but we still call her Bac, elder aunt for her leadership and care.8a The green of the lake is often shrouded by mist in the morning,8b and the traffic is thin.9a Few tourists are up at this time9b and it‟s just the locals,9c ^ the locals are doing star jumps9d and ^the locals are playing badminton on the pavements.Part 2.10a We don‟t talk about the war10b and what we‟ve seen amongst the Heroic Mothers.11a Instead we talk about the good and the future,11b what our sons and daughters are doing-11c and often how affluent and modern they are.12 My granddaughter is a little upstart.13a She calls me Ba13b and ^ she was the sweetest thing13c when she was younger.14a She‟s now hit her teenage years14b and ^ she wants to go study in Saigon.15a Hanoi is boring15b she says15c - even though we keep telling her15d the best schools and university is in Hanoi.16a She takes for granted16b what we had struggled for all along, through the war and doi moi.17a She even leaves food on her plate17b and ^ she doesn‟t finish her meals.18a When I watch American movies with my grandchildren18b it is like fantasy.19a When they shoot19b the guns don‟t recoil,
  6. 6. 619c you cannot smell the hot iron, the blood, the burning flesh.20a People just drop dead,20b they do not continue surviving against the odds, writhing in pain.21 And the prisons are so clean.22a Not like the rat boxes they kept us in22b when they caught us spying for the other side.23a I hope23b that my granddaughter does not see23c what I and her parents have seen.Part 3.24a I remember24b how relieved my son in law was24c when he married into our family24d and ^he discovered24e I wasn‟t as mad as24f people said24g I was.25a I acted crazy during the entire war,25b ^ I was wearing the same shirt and indigo pants no matter what the weather,25c ^ I was standing outside in the rain and the sweltering heat25d ^ I was enacting out the great epics of the Trung sisters and King Le Loi.26a I would go around the American soldiers26b ^ I was begging for money26c and ^ I was singing to them off key and off tempo.27a Everyone thought27b I was crazy except my comrades at the National Liberation Front.28a They knew28b I was carrying documents for them, in my pockets close to my skin.29a I did not bathe,29b I stank29c so no one would want to go near me.30 Sometimes it was fun acting crazy.31a Sometimes I thought31b I would go crazy31c when I saw the bodies of my sisters,31d ^ the sisters were raped and tortured by the Imperial puppet forces.32a Sometimes I was so scared32b acting crazy was my only escape.33a Nowadays I am a kindly grandmother33b and I can be myself, silver haired and slightly senile.34a I choose34b what I hear and say.35a I chop meat with a cleaver ignoring the thunks in my head35b when I sometimes flashback to seeing the bodies of corpses splayed open, blood and
  7. 7. 7bone.36 We are all blood and bone in the end.37a Sometimes at night I wake up37b and ^ I find myself downstairs.38 My daughter would be holding my hand telling me to shut up.39 “You are acting crazy again.40 ^ You are Remembering the war again.41 It‟s over.”42a She would tell me off impatiently42b when it happened too often.43a Then I see the TV news43b and ^ I try43c and ^ I look away.44 More wars.45a The Americans are installing more puppet forces.45b ^who are invading Iraq46a They say46b I‟ve acted crazy all my life.47a At least I don‟t start wars,47b the only war I had47c ^ which was in my heart47d when killings would occur47e and ^ I disguised as a crazy woman47f all I could do47g ^ all was sing louder.48 I could never drown out the sounds of screaming and the firing of weapons.49 Even the beat of the bass sounds of my children‟s music sometimes reminds me ofthe thumping of artillery.50 But at least I have islands of sanity amongst my craziness.51a That‟s more than51b what I can say about the world.Participants and process types in part 1 of “Heroic Mother”Clause No Participants Process1a My family think Mental process1b I am Relational process2a They say Verbal process2b they zoom off Material process2c their kids turn on Material process2d they watch Behavioural process3a I smile Behavioural process3b I make Behavioural process3c I do not understand Mental process3d they speak Behavioural process3e I am Relational process
  8. 8. 84 Hanoi has changed Material process5a I do Material process5b we follow Material process6a It is Relational process6b we defer Material process6d she is Relational process7a We have Relational process7b we call Relational process8a The green of the lake is shrouded Material process8b the traffic is Relational process9a Few tourists are Relational process9b it is Relational process9c the locals are doing Material process9d the locals are playing Material processParticipants and process types in part 2 of “Heroic Mother”Clause No Participants Process10a We don‟t talk Verbal process10b we have seen Mental process11a we talk Verbal process11b our sons and daughters are doing Material process11c they are Relational process12 My grand daughter is Relational process13a She calls Relational process13b she was Relational process13c she was Relational process14a She is Relational process14b she wants to go Material process15a Hanoi is Relational process15b she says Verbal process15c we keep telling Verbal process15d the best schools and university is Relational process16a She takes for granted Material process16b we had struggled Material process17a She leaves Material process17b she doesn‟t finish Material process18a I watch Behavioural process18b it is Relational process19a they shoot Material process19b the guns don‟t recoil Material process19c you cannot smell Mental process20a People drop Relational process20b they do not continue Material process21 the prisons are Relational process22a they kept Material process22b they caught Material process
  9. 9. 923a I hope Mental process23b my grand daughter does not see Mental process23c I and her parents have seen. Mental processParticipants and process types in part 3 of “Heroic Mother”Clause No Participants Process24a I remember Mental process24b my son was Relational process24c he married Material process24d he discovered Material process24e I wasn‟t Relational process24f people said Verbal process24g I was Relational process25a I acted Relational process25b I was wearing Material process25c I was standing Material process25d I was enacting Material process26a I would go Material process26b I was begging Behavioural process26c I was singing Behavioural process27a Everyone thought Mental process27b I was Relational process28a They knew Mental process28b I was carrying Material process29a I did not bathe Material process29b I stank Material process29c no one would want to go Material process30 it was Relational process31a I thought Mental process31b I would go Material process31c I saw Mental process31d the sisters were raped and tortured Material process32a I was Relational process32b acting crazy was Relational process33a I am Relational process33b I can be Relational process34a I choose Material process34b I hear Mental process35a I chop Material process35b I flashback Mental process36 We are Relational process37a I wake up Material process37b I find Mental process38 My daughter would be holding Material process39 You are acting Relational process40 You are remembering Mental process
  10. 10. 1041 It is Relational process42a She would tell… off Verbal process42b it happened Material process43a I see Mental process43b I try Material process43c ^I look away Behavioural process44 More wars ///45a The Americans are installing Material process45b ^The Americans are invading Material process46a They say Verbal process46b I have acted Relational process47a I don‟t start Material process47b I had Relational process47c which (the only war) was Relational process47d killings would occur Material process47e ^ I disguised Relational process47f I could do Material process47g all was Relational process48 I could never drown Material process49 the beat of the bass sounds of my children‟s music reminds…of Mental process50 I have Relational process51a That is Relational process51b I can say Verbal processTHEME AND RHEMEThis concept goes back to the founder of the Linguistic Circle of Prague school, VilémMathesius who developed and applied the concept of “Functional Sentence Perspective”(FSP). According to Mathesius, every utterance has two different structures: one isgrammatical, and the other is informational termed: “the information-bearing structure ofthe utterance”. The basic elements of the formal structure of the sentence are thegrammatical subject and the grammatical predicate, the basic elements of the information-bearing structure are the foundation of the utterance- whatever in a given situation isknown or at least obvious and thus forms a point of departure for the speaker- and thecore of the utterance, that is, whatever the speaker affirms about the foundation of theutterance or in terms of it.The terms “foundation” and “core” are usually replaced,respectively, by “theme ”and “rheme” .Unless special effects are aimed at, theme usuallyprecedes rheme (i.e. theme is unmarked). In marked utterances, rheme is promoted to thefirst position followed by the themea. The man is coming.b. His hair I can‟t stand.c. Smith her name was.
  11. 11. 11Thus theme in (a) is unmarked, but is marked in (b, c) owing to the thematization of thenew information .A sentence contains a point of departure and a goal of discourse. Thepoint of departure, called the theme, is the ground on which the speaker and the hearermeet.The goal of discourse, called the rheme, presents the very information that is to beimparted to the hearer.Movement from theme to rheme reveals the movement of the minditself.NATURE OF THEMEAND RHEMETheme provides the settings for the remainder of the sentence – rheme. Rheme is theremainder of the message in a clause in which Theme is developed, that is to say, rhemetypically contains unfamiliar or new information. New information is knowledge that awriter assumes the reader does not know, but needs to have in order to follow theprogression of the argument . The boundary between Theme and Rheme is simple: Themeis the first element occurring in a clause; the remainder clause is Rheme.Theme RhemeThe lion beat the unicorn all round the town.All round the town the lion beat the unicorn.However, the unicorn still did not want to bow to the lion.Would the unicorn give in to the lion.When the lion got to the battle field the unicorn was ready for the battle.║It was the rush and roar of rain║ ║that he typified, ║ ║and it stopped him║, ║for no voicecould be heard in it║. ║A memorable storm of thunder and lightning broke with that sweep ofwater, ║ ║and there was not a moments interval in crash ,and fire, and rain, ║ ║until afterthe moon rose at midnight. ║ (A Tale of Two Cities, P.104)The flow of information in a sentence from theme to R is crucial in achievingcommunicative effectiveness in a message. The exchange of information between successiveTheme and Rheme pairings in a text is called Thematic Patterning or Progression(Eggins,2004:45ff). Thematic patterning contributes to the cohesive development of a text,that is to say, in a cohesive text the distribution of given and new information needs tofollow certain patterns.DANES‟S MODELDanes has claimed that the way in which lexical strings and reference chains interact withtheme is not random. Rather, the patterns of interaction realize what he refers to as a textsThematic Patterning (1974:113).Danes(1974) proposal of four main types of ThematicPatterning constitutes a functional explanation of the ordering of information in discourse.He claims that the organization of information in texts is determined by the progression inthe ordering of utterance themes and their rhemes. His spelling out of the relationship
  12. 12. 12between successive themes and their rhemes would appear to provide a more satisfactoryaccount of the method of development of texts1- Simple linear progressionAn item from the rheme of the first clause becomes the theme of the subsequent clause, asin:-We are observed by our resident pair of collared doves ,perched on a convenient tree,cable or roof-top.- They recognize not only us by our car- Strangers and unfamiliar cars are viewed with suspicionThe examples can be mapped as follows:T1 (we) R1 (collared doves)T2 (They) R2 (car)T3 (strangers and unfamiliar cars R3ii- Constant ProgressionThe item in the theme of the first clause is also selected as the theme of the followingclause, as in:- Homer employs a particular event, the quarrel between an arrogant …- Homer grasps that there is an internal logic to existence.- For Homer, actions must have their consequences.T1 (Homer) + R1|T2 (Homer) + R2|T3 (For Homer ) + R3iii- Derived Hyperthematic ProgreesionThe particular themes in subsequent clauses are derived from a hypertheme or from thesame overriding theme, as in:In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much nationalboasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capitalitself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town removing theirfurniture to upholsterers warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a Citytradesman in the light, and being recognized and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom
  13. 13. 13he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallantly shot him through the head and rodeaway; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shotdead himself by the other four,…(A Tale of Two Cities :Ch. 1:p.4f)T1(In England, there) R1 (was an amount of order and protection )T2(Daring burglaries)T3 (families)T4(the highwayman in…)T5(the mail ) R5T6(the guard ) R6iv- Splitting ProgressionThe theme of the first clause is split into two items; each is considered a theme elementin the subsequent clause:On this fine Sunday, Mr. Lorry walked towards Soho ,early in the afternoon, for three reasonsof habit. Firstly, because on fine Sundays, he often walked out, before dinner , with the Doctorand Luice; secondly, because on unfavourable Sundays, he was accustomed to be with them atthe family friend ,talking, reading, looking out of windows, and generally getting through theday; thirdly, because he happened to have his own little shrewd doubts to solve…….(A Tale ofTwo Cities, Ch.6: P.92)T1 (Mr. Lorry) R1 ( three reasons of habit) (Ri+Rii+Riii)T2( = Ri) (Firstly…he) R2 (walked…)T3 ( = Rii)(secondly…he) R3 (was …)T4 ( = Riii) (thirdly…..he) R4(happened …)

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