Systemic-Functional Grammar

News is a particular attack to describe or notice the latest and of import facts. Its intent is to act upon the Mass Public Opinion. The definition of the intelligence demonstrates that intelligence is the fact, different from the fiction of literature. Besides the general features of intelligence, airing intelligence has its ain distinguishable characteristics. This paper analyzes the English airing intelligence from the pick of the procedure types and the transitivity of the clause by utilizing the transitivity theory for the intent of detecting the distribution jurisprudence of the procedure types of the English broadcast medium intelligence text and its genre characteristics.


In the sixtiess, Halliday, the Professor of linguistics, developed a systematic and comprehensive theory of linguistic communication, called “Systemic-Functional Grammar ( SFG ) ” , and published his book An Introduction to Functional Grammar in 1985 and 1994. Many bookmans besides published a figure of books and documents on systemic grammar. The research of Systemic Functional Grammar began in 1970s and became popular in the late eightiess.

In Halliday ‘s book An Introduction to Functional Grammar, he says “the theory on which this description is based, systemic theory follows in the European functional tradition. It is mostly based on Firth ‘s system-structure theory, but derives more abstract rules from Hjelmslev and owes many thoughts to Prague School. The forming construct is that of the “system” , which is used basically in Firth ‘s sense of a functional Paradigm but developed into the formal concept of a ‘system network’.” ( Halliday, 2000:52 )

SFG has two constituents: systemic grammar and functional grammar. In Hu Zhuanglin ‘s book Linguistics. A class Book, he holds that “Systemic grammar purposes to explicate the internal dealingss in linguistic communication as a system web, or intending possible. And this web consists of subsystem from which linguistic communication users make picks. Functional grammar aims to uncover that linguistic communication is a agency of societal interaction, based on the place that linguistic communication system and the signifiers that make it up are ineluctably determined by the utilizations or maps which they serve.” ( Hu Zhuanglin 2001:409 )

“In a functional grammar, on the other manus, the way is reversed. A linguistic communication is interpreted as a System of significances can be realized.” Halliday ( 1985 ) “Functional Grammar purposes to uncover that linguistic communication is a mean of societal interaction, based on the place that linguistic communication system and the signifiers that make it up are ineluctably determined by the utilizations or maps which they serve.” Hu Zhuanglin ( 2001 ) The maps of linguistic communication are the most of import things in Functional Grammar.

As the tool of human being ‘s communicating, linguistic communication possesses many different sorts of maps. Halliday divided the maps of linguistic communication into three types. They are conceptional metafunction, interpersonal metafunction, and textual metafunction. In this paper, the accent is on conceptional metafunction.

The conceptional metafunction is to form the talker or author ‘s experience of the existent or fanciful universe. It includes experiential map and logical map. The significance of experiential map is that linguistic communication expresses people ‘s experiences in external universe ( things, events qualities, etc ) and internal universe ( ideas, beliefs, feelings, etc ) . What logical map refers to is that linguistic communication expresses the logical relationship between two or more than two intending units.

Experiential map is chiefly embodied by transitivity and voice. “… Parallel with its development in the map of temper, showing the active, interpersonal facet of significance, the clause evolved at the same time in another grammatical map showing the reflective, experiential facet of significance. This later is the system of transitivity. Transitivity specifies the different types of procedure that are recognized in the linguistic communication, and the constructions by which they are expressed.” ( Halliday,1985 ) Transitivity is a semantic system. Its intent is to split something around people into several procedures affecting participants and circumstantial elements. Halliday contents that transitivity includes six procedures: ( a ) Material procedure. ( B ) Mental procedure. ( degree Celsius ) Relational procedure. ( vitamin D ) Behavioral procedure. ( vitamin E ) Verbal procedure. ( degree Fahrenheit ) Existential procedure.

( a ) Material Procedure: procedure of making

Material procedure is a procedure of making. The procedure normally consists of verb, histrion ( logical topic ) and end ( noun or pronoun ) . Material Processes express the impression that some entity ‘does ‘ something- which may be done ‘to ‘ some other entity ( Halliday, 1985 ) For illustration,

A fungus


the java works foliages




( B ) Mental Procedure: procedure of thought

Mental procedure is a procedure of believing affecting perceptual experience ( see, look ) , reaction ( like, fright ) and knowledge ( cognizing, believing, and understanding ) and so on. Mental procedure has two participants: detector and phenomenon. Sensor refers to the individual who perceives and phenomenon is the something that is perceived by the detector. Phenomenon includes concrete individual or objects, abstract things, happened events and so on. For illustration,



the whole room.




( degree Celsius ) Relational Procedure: procedure of being

Relational procedure is a procedure of being. Actually, relational procedure is a really complex type of procedure, which covers the many different ways that ‘being ‘ is expressed ( Eggins 1994 ) . However, in this analysis, we merely refer two simple types, they are prenominal procedure and placing procedure. In the prenominal procedure, the participants are attribute and bearer. For illustration,

Her face


a bloated patched mask.




In the identifying procedure, the participants are identified and identifier.

This auto






( vitamin D ) Behavioral Process: procedure of acting

Behavioral procedure is a procedure of acting, such as breathe, dream, smiling, laugh, call, and cough. The basic constituents of the procedure are “behaver” and “process” . This point is similar to the mental procedure, but different from the stuff procedure. Bloor and Bloor ( 1995 ) described behavioural procedure as the gray country between Material and Mental procedures.







( vitamin E ) Verbal Procedure: procedure of stating

Verbal procedure is a procedure of stating. “Saying” has to be interpreted in a instead wide sense ; it covers any sort of symbolic exchange of significance. The verbal words are “tell, say, talk, describe, self-praise, praise” . The verbalisation itself is called the verbalism.

The sources


the constabulary






( degree Fahrenheit ) Experiential Procedure: procedure of bing

Experiential procedure is a procedure of bing. In every experiential procedure, it must hold an “Existent” . “There” has no representational map.

There are

10 of us

in the party.




By and large talking, most of the procedures stand foring descriptive significance are the relational, experiential procedure and the mental procedures. However, most of the procedures stand foring narrative significance are material procedures.

“Voice is the ways in which a linguistic communication expresses the relationship between a verb and the noun phrases which are associated with it. Two sentences can differ in voice and yet have the same basic significance. However, there may be a alteration in accent and one type of sentence may be more appropriate.” ( Jack C.Richards, John Platt and Heidi Platt, 2000 ) It is represented normally by active voice and inactive voice. In order to do the construction of the text sensible and the context consistent, talkers or authors need to make an appropriate pick to the voice.

Approach to Analyze the Text

Harmonizing to Huang Guowen, SFG is more suited for analysing a text. The grounds for it lie below. First, SFG is a text grammar, which means this sort of grammar can depict how the usage of linguistic communication. In this manner, the significance of the text can be understood clearly. Second, in SFG, maps of linguistic communication are divided into three metafunction. The description of the systemic web of the three metafunction is rather clear. Therefore, the application of the model of SFG to analyse a text can avoid measuring at will.

Choice of Text

The text chosen for analysis is from BBC Broadcasting intelligence on its web site on Thursday, 2 July, 2009. This intelligence study can be heard in the air and its written text is on BBC web site after the newsman made an interview with Alain Bouillard, of France ‘s BEA accident probe bureau. This intelligence is written in English originally, so when I picked it up, I made no interlingual rendition. What ‘s more, this piece of intelligence is wholly reliable in that it is non edited or used for the intent of linguistic communication instruction.

Context of Situation

Definition of context: It is immediate environment of linguistic communication activity, which is clip, topographic point, speaking content, the relation among people related to reassign communicational significances. Halliday and Hasan ( 1985 ) divided context of state of affairs into three parts: field, tenor and manner.

( a ) Field refers to what is being talked about, what is it that the participants are engaged in, in which the linguistic communication s as some indispensable constituents. This chosen intelligence study is speaking about the consequence of probe of the France air clang. Most of the contents are from an officer, in this manner, the media wants to give the populace an important account of the probe procedure.

( B ) Tenor refers to the people involved in the communicating and the relationship between them. What kinds of function relationships obtain among the participants, including lasting and impermanent relationships of one sort or another, both the types of address function that they are taking on in the duologue and the whole bunch of socially important relationships in which they refer to. Here the participants are the intelligence authors or editors and the hearers of the wireless or visitants or ‘readers ‘ of the web sites.

( degree Celsius ) Mode refers to how the linguistic communication is working in the interaction, e.g. whether it is written or spoken. As for the chosen intelligence study, its chief intent is to read to the hearers. Therefore, the linguistic communication use is instead simple and unwritten, which is to cut down the load of hearers.


Air France jet ‘broke on impact ‘

Brazilian military forces retrieve portion of the Air France plane from the Atlantic Ocean ( 08 June 2009 )

Search squads recovered 51 organic structures from the clang country

?French research workers seeking to happen out why an Air France plane crashed in the Atlantic say they believe it broke up on contact with H2O, non in the air.

?They besides found that the plane ‘s velocity detectors had been “ a factor but non the cause ” of the clang.

?All 228 people on the plane were killed when it plunged into the ocean en path from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on 1 June.

?Teams looking for the plane ‘s flight information recording equipments will go on operations for another 10 yearss.

?Alain Bouillard, of France ‘s BEA accident probe bureau, said the clang had been an highly hard one to understand.

? ” Between the surface of the H2O and 35,000ft [ 10,700m ] , we do n’t cognize what happened, ” Mr Bouillard said.

? ” In the absence of the flight recording equipments, it is highly hard to pull decisions. ”

Table 2

Type of Transitivity















43 %


14 %

43 %



In the intelligence above, the most procedures are verbal and material procedure, and with merely one relational procedure and zero experiential, behavior and mental procedure. By and large talking, a certain text normally contains many different sorts of transitivity procedure, particularly material procedure. Hu Zhuanglin contents that people populating in a material universe, ‘do’or’make ‘ is the primary and footing, merely with this can human existences hold other physiological characteristic to continue other procedure. In this piece of intelligence, material procedure takes up 43 % , which is rather high in entire. Harmonizing to Halliday, What experiential map is that linguistic communication expresses people ‘s experiences in external universe ( things, events qualities, etc ) and internal universe ( ideas, beliefs, feelings, etc ) . News is the record of the fact, is the response to the fact. News without fact is non intelligence, intelligence without fact or truth can non be good intelligence. The theory of the intelligence authorship is objectively describing and talking with the fact. In this intelligence, material procedure takes up such a high proportion, which is merely right to obey the regulations that intelligence is due to truth or fact. However, one certain procedure occurs more often is one of the factors to organize the characteristic of a text. Halliday classes the Process Material, Mental and Relational as major procedure and the others as child. The verbal procedure that originally belongs to the less of import procedure in this intelligence takes up 43 % , which is the highest of all. Verbal procedure is a procedure of stating ; the expression is to interchange information. Airing intelligence as a tool of media has a duty to convey information to the populace. It is non hard to happen out that the transitivity procedure of this piece of intelligence ballads peculiar emphasis on verbal procedure.

Harmonizing to other statistics I find out in another 10 pieces of BBC intelligence show that verbal procedure occurs rather high in airing texts. In the entire 172 sentences, there are 56 verbal procedure, busying 32 % , merely a small lower than material procedure. In some certain broadcast medium intelligence ( such as above ) , verbal procedure peers even overruns material procedure. To some extent, the distribution of transitivity of discourse has a regular subject. What ‘s more, the subject has something to make with the genre of the discourse.

Now we will hold a farther survey of the intelligence above. There are seven sentences in the intelligence, and they are divided into detached procedure, each sentence and its belonging procedure is in the tabular arraies below.

? Verbal Procedure

Gallic research workers seeking to happen out why an Air France plane crashed in the Atlantic


they believe it broke up on contact with H2O, non in the air




?Material procedure


besides found

that the plane ‘s velocity detectors had been “ a factor but non the cause ” of the clang.




?Material Procedure

All 228 people on the plane

were killed

when it plunged into the ocean en path from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on 1 June




? ( Material Process )

Teams looking for the plane ‘s flight informations recording equipments

will go on


for another 10 yearss





? ( Verbal Process )

Alain Bouillard, of France ‘s BEA accident probe bureau


the clang had been an highly hard one to understand.




? ( Verbal Process )

“Between the surface of the H2O and 35,000ft [ 10,700m ] , we do n’t cognize what happened”

Mr. Bouillard





? ( Relational Process )

In the absence of the flight recording equipments



highly hard to pull decisions





In the intelligence above, there are four sentences involved in verbal procedure. The first 1 as a headline lays indispensable topographic point in the whole transition. Headline is a decision and infusion of the chief event. In a intelligence study, taking the words from an authorization that responsible for the probe of the accident is perfectly the best pick. In fact, so did the author do. Then, to describe the procedure of the probe, the author chose to utilize material procedure in that Material Process is to narrate the existent universe. In the 2nd and the forth Material Process sentences, the Gallic research workers ( referred to ‘They ‘ and ‘the squad ‘ in the intelligence ) are chief participants. They found, they continue operations, the utilizing the research workers to be the chief participants in the uninterrupted two stuff procedure, on one manus can do certain of the continuity of the intelligence study, on the other manus, this intelligence study is chiefly to describe the state of affairss and sentiments from research workers. In this manner, put the words from the research workers in an indispensable topographic point can exemplify the most of import content of the intelligence in forepart of the hearers, which is the chief duty of a successful intelligence study. In the 2nd stuff procedure, the author chose the inactive voice to stress the victims of this accident. In this stuff procedure, these 228 people on the plane had no hope to be survived. When listening to here, we have realized something about the consequence of the deliverance activity. Then the Material Process is finished, and led to Verbal Process. In the undermentioned 2 Verbal Materials, the contents of the address are all from Mr. Bouillard, who is from France ‘s BEA accident probe bureau. By his words, the author told the readers that the ground for the aeroplane accident was still unresolved and it could be a hard undertaking to happen out clearly. The author chose to cite the words from the probe bureau is to do certain the dependability and the deepness of the intelligence study. What ‘s more, it besides can state readers the resource of the intelligence study, which is from the authorization.

Mr Bouillard, he is an officer from BEA accident probe bureau, is the direct participant of the whole study, in that manner, he could keep one-hand consequences of the whole hunt. In most instances, when an accident happens or a research being preceded, a intelligence newsman may non be involved straight or informant at topographic point. Most of the study resources are due to interview afterwards. If we can reach the direct participants or the direct research workers in a research such as in this instance, it will do a more graphic ambiance for hearers or readers, and adding the dependability every bit good. Newss studies normally get the assistance from the participants, the informant of the event or the people from governments to give a intimation or proclaim the resource of the intelligence. However, we could besides see that in a intelligence study there exists study from a newsman, which in another manner explains the ground why there are more verbal procedures in a intelligence study.

We can hold a farther expression of the verbal stuff 1,5,7. In these three verbal stuff, the author chose say, said, said, all of which are fluctuations from say. They are really simple and unwritten. This is because in a broadcasting intelligence study, the chief method is to do audience listen. Broadcasting should convey the most information in a limited period of clip, so that the words chosen from airing intelligence study should be simple and close to day-to-day life, avoiding adding load to hearers. In fact, in this airing intelligence study, the sentence construction used are rather simple, the words chosen are instead compendious, and without many complex clauses. When it comes to the tenses used in this intelligence study, we can happen out at that place are non any complex tenses, merely simple yesteryear and simple in bend.

In the whole intelligence study, the stuff procedure states the chief fact, and the verbal procedure proclaims the resource of the intelligence, and to travel frontward to provide and exemplify the chief event. In this intelligence study, the stuff procedure and the verbal procedure occur in bend, and keep different responsibilities each other. The construction of this intelligence study makes it active and filled with fluctuations. The words from the authorization from different ways can explicate the ground why they still can non happen out the ground for the airplane accident instantly. In a word, it is a successful intelligence study to state audience the procedure of the probe of the air crush.


In this paper, Halliday ‘s transitivity theory and the types of transitivity have been used to analyse a piece of intelligence study from BBC. It is found that there is a distribution jurisprudence of the procedure types in the English broadcast medium intelligence text ; Verbal Process is one of the characteristics that form the intelligence text. It is besides illustrated that airing intelligence has its ain features ; such as the inclination to be unwritten, most of sentences are short, the approximately narrative that can be easy to read aloud, etc. This analysis proves that the application of functional grammar in discourse analysis is practical and operable. By the transitivity theory to analysis a discourse, it can assist to prehend the kernel and characteristics of a text. In add-on, it can besides advance to understand the intension of a discourse.


Bloor. T and M. Bloor. 1995. The Functional Analysis of English: A Hallidayan Approach. London: Arnold

Eggins, S. 1994. An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Pinter Publishers

Halliday, M.A.K. and R. Hasan. 1976. Cohesion in English. London: Longman.

Halliday M.A.K. 1985. An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Halliday, M.K.A. 2000 An Introduction to Functional Grammar, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Hu Zhuanglin 2001 Linguistics, A class Book Beijing: Beijing University

Huang Guowen 2002 Discourse and Language Functions Beijing: FLTRP

Thompson, G. 1996. Introducing Functional Grammar. London: Arnold

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