An Introduction to Functional Grammar by Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday, Christian M. I. M.

By Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday, Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen

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Such a sequence of classes is called a ‘syntagm’. However, this tells us very little about how it is organized or what it means. The significance of such a syntagm is that here it is the realization of a structure: an organic configuration of elements, which we can analyse in functional terms. trees denotes the category of entity being referred to; we designate its function as Thing. jacaranda denotes the class within this general category; it functions here as Classifier. the has a pointing out function, known as Deictic: it signals that some particular member(s) of this class is or are being referred to.

44 T he lexico-grammar cline But if grammar and lexis are interpreted as the endpoints of a continuum, what lies in between them, around the middle? It is here that we locate those items that, on the paradigmatic axis, enter into series that could be regarded from both angles of vision: either, in a grammatical perspective, as rather large and fuzzy closed systems or, in a lexical perspective, as somewhat determinate and limited open sets. This would include, in English, things like prepositions, temporal and other specialized adverbs, and conjunctions of various kinds.

In terms of stratification, the book deals with lexicogrammar, the stratum of wording. If we use the familiar metaphor of vertical space, as implied in the word ‘stratum’, the stratum ‘above’ is the semantics, that ‘below’ is the phonology. We cannot expect to understand the grammar just by looking at if from its own level; we also look into it ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, taking a trinocular perspective. But since the view from these different angles is often conflicting, the description will inevitably be a form of compromise.

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