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Sep 13

Rank Scale

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 in Linguistics

Langauge cannot be explained by giving words classes. How a word functions can tell us more than just it’s classification. So because we need to look at functionsa s well as classes, then we also need to look beyond just words. Language is more than stringing together of words, there are patterns of langauge at many different levels.

That’s where rank scale comes in.

Rank Scale:
Clause Complex
Group or phrase

Sep 13

More functional grammar rambles

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 in Linguistics

Systemic functional linguistics is a proposal for language description that is consistent with the aim of linguistic philosophy dating back to ancient times. Times have changed, the modes through which people communicate were once unimaginable, but the challenge is the same: explain how people make use of language across various contexts (field), tenors (relationships) and modes (mediums).

Grammar is implicitly learned quite early in life according to functional grammar linguists because it is not prescriptive rules. Grammar is the way in which a language is organized. It is patterns of language. If you are a native English speaker, you know how to follow patterns of language construction that “seem right”.

People who look at language are interested in how they can get things done with the language, how they can make meanings, get attention to their points of view, how they can influence their peers, how they can make friends and maintain their friendships, The grammatical structure is only a way to get their desires fulfilled, this is functional grammar.

Sep 13

Functional Grammar and Language Education

Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 in Education, Linguistics, Teaching

Learning language is more than learning words and grammar. It is about learning how to use the language in a way that makes sense to people who speak that language. Language is a process of making meanings, weaving them together into a purposeful whole text. The task of language education is one of supporting language learners so they can participate in the process of making meaning.

Teachers who think about language like this will be likely to design activities using authentic texts, letting students work with authentic language use.

Functional grammar education seeks to articulate knowledge about language language users have formed over their lifetimes about how language choices make different meanings in different contexts so that they can make use of this explicit knowledge in the classroom. Functional grammar gives us techniques and the vocabulary we need to analyze texts and describe them.

Text: Some piece of language that is functional. Can be spoken or written. A text is just a collection of meanings.

Texts occur within contexts of culture and situation:

Context of Culture: differences in the way culture shapes the way we use language to make meanings. Like in one culture there is one way to greet someone, in another culture another way is appropriate.
Context of Situation: the way language is used to make meaning in a particular situation.

I see it that culture shapes texts broadly and situations shape text in a more specific manner.

Field, Tenor and Mode

Field: What is being talked about.
Tenor: The relationship between the speaker/writer and the listener/reader.
Mode: The way the text is delivered. Ex. letter, resume, essay, speech, telephone call, conversation.

Functions of language

  • to talk about what has happened and what will happen: ideational function
  • to talk about how feel about things: interpersonal function
  • to make the two other functions a coherent whole: textual function
  • Levels of language

    • Extralinguistic Levels: Context of Culture — > Context of Situation
      • Is realized in

      • Linguistic Levels:
        • Content levels: Semantics (systems of meaning)
          • Is realized in:

          • Lexicogrammar (systems of words and how they are arranged)
            • Is realized in:

            • Expression Level:
              • Phonology (systems of sounds)
              • Gestures
              • Graphology (systems of writing)

      Systemic functional grammar is a way to describe language choices so we can be aware of how language is being used to realize meanings. It’s gives us the words we need to describe it. SFL/SFG calls this metalanguage.

      Register: Texts that share the same context and patterns of grammar, the same purpose or relationship are said to share the same register.

      Genre: Texts that share the same structure and text types are said to share the same genre.

      Some types of genre: Recount, Narrative, Procedure, Information Report, Explanation, Exposition, Discussion. There are more obviously but these are commonly used in the classroom.

    Sep 13

    Functional Language

    Posted on Thursday, September 13, 2012 in Linguistics, Teaching

    This makes my academic heart swell with joy:

    It is often said that children, as they use language, are constantly

    • learning language
    • learning through language, and
    • learning about language.

    We never stop learning language — from the babbling of babies to the voracious preschool years, from our early encounters with print and our first attempts at writing through to the secondary textbooks and essays, and then beyond to the new demands of adulthood, where we still continue to learn and refine the language needed in every new situation in which we find ourselves.

    And it is now widely recognised that we learn through language — that language is absolutely central in the learning process. Our perception of the world is constructed through language, and it is through language that we are able to interact with others in our world. In schools, we could virtually say that “language is the curriculum”. (Derewianka, 1990, p.3)

    Deeply entwined with Vygotskian principles about language being a cultural tool and Halliday’s work with SFL, this paragraph connects with me profoundly as a language educator. Teaching learners a foreign language gives them access to new interactions with others, changes their perceptions of the world. It empowers learners with new opportunities for new life learning, it teaches them new ways to learn about themselves and the world around them.

    Derewianka, B., (1990). A functional approach to language. In Exploring how texts work (pp. 3-9). Primary English Teaching Association.

    Sep 11

    Linguistics, yay.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 in Linguistics

    This semester I am finally taking a course in linguistics. I had no background knowledge for linguistics beyond it’s a study on language and the first few weeks of class I felt like I was floundering. I had no idea. Finally, I can feel my brain making sense of some of the key concepts. I am studying Systemic functional linguistics, whichi is a way of describing grammar descriptively. It was created by Michael Halliday and his work is closely correlated with my favorite thing in the entire world: Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory of learning.

    I love when I can actually feel my brain wrapping around ideas. I have felt exhausted the past week, my brain is never resting. I had a dream about linguistics a few nights ago. I have been associating things I see with linguistics. I have been explaining concepts to people who really could not care less. Yes, my brain is working overtime making space for all this new information and assimilating it with my previous knowledge. Indeed, the cognitive side of learning is fun.