Tuesday, 23 May 2017

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Theme In Minor Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
These are clauses with no mood or transitivity structure, typically functioning as calls, greetings, exclamations and alarms, like Mary!, Good night!, Well done! They have no thematic structure either. (In this they resemble an important class of items such as titles and labels — not regarded as clauses because they have no independent speech function.)

Monday, 22 May 2017

Theme in Embedded Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
These are clauses that function inside the structure of a nominal group, as defining relative clauses, e.g. who came to dinner, the dam broke, requiring travel permits in the man who came to dinner, the day the dam broke, all personnel requiring travel permits. The thematic structure of such clauses is the same as that of dependent clauses. However, because of their downranking, the fact that they do not function as constituents of a sentence [clause], their thematic contribution to the discourse is minimal, and for practical purposes can be ignored.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Theme In Non-Finite Dependent Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 127):
If non-finite, there may be a conjunction or preposition as structural Theme, which may be followed by a Subject as topical Theme; but many non-finite clauses have neither, in which case they consist of Rheme only.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Theme In Finite Dependent Clauses: Concessive Relational Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126n):
With bound intensive relational clauses that are concessive, there is a special thematic option with the topical Theme coming before the binder though, e.g. Achyut Abhyankar << talented though he is >>, should be more restrained in his vocal ‘sangat’; Vicious though she looked || the Contessa was no exception. The clause culminates with the Process, which is thus likely to be the Focus of New information. Contrast: though she looked vicious and vicious though she looked.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Theme In Finite Dependent Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126-7):
If finite, these typically have a conjunction as structural Theme, e.g. because, that, whether, followed by a topical Theme; … If the bound clause begins with a WH- element, on the other hand, that element constitutes the topical Theme … The reason for this, as we have seen, is that the WH- element also has a function in the transitivity structure of the clause.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Method Of Development (Fries 1981)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 126):
The significance of these [thematic] patterns emerges when we come to consider the importance of clause theme in the overall development of a text.  By itself the choice of Theme in each particular instance, clause by clause, may seem a fairly haphazard matter; but it is not.  The choice of clause Themes plays a fundamental part in the way discourse is organised; it is this, in fact, that constitutes what has been called the ‘method of development’ of the text (see e.g. Fries, 1981, and contributions to Ghadessy, 1995; and to Hasan & Fries, 1995).  In this process, the main contribution comes from the thematic structure of independent clauses.  But other clauses also come into the picture, and need to be taken account of in Theme–Rheme analysis.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

From Textual To Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125-6):
However, we have also seen that there is a compensatory principle at work whereby, if what comes first is ‘fixed’ (in the sense that its being first is an essential or at least typical characteristic), then what comes next may retain some thematic flavour. If the initial element is there as the expression not of thematic choice but of some other option in the grammar, then what follows it is also part of the Theme. We have embodied this in a general principle of interpretation whereby the Theme of a clause extends up to the first element that has some representational function in the clause (the ‘topical’ Theme). Hence in a dependent clause such as if winter comes, one part of the Theme is the if, expressing the nature of the clause’s relation to some other clause in the neighbourhood, and the other part is winter, which has a function both in transitivity (as Actor) and in mood (as Subject).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Scale Of Thematic Freedom

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125):
There is thematic structure, in fact, in all major clause types: that is, all clauses expressing mood and transitivity, whether independent or not. But, as we have seen, there is a kind of scale of thematic freedom: whereas in a free declarative clause the speaker has a free choice of Theme — other things being equal he will map it on to the Subject, but this is merely the unmarked option — the further one moves away from this most open-ended form of the clause, the more the thematic options are restricted by structural pressures from other parts of the grammar, pressures that are themselves thematic in origin. In interrogatives and imperatives, and even more strongly in clauses that are not independent, the thematic principle has determined what it is that will be the Theme of the clause, leaving only a highly marked alternative option (as in interrogative) or else no alternative at all.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Theme Predication Vs Postposition: Embedded Fact Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 125):
Now, one common type of these clauses is that where the postposed Subject is an embedded ‘fact’ clause. Here the pronoun substitute is always it:
it helps a lot to be able to speak the language
I don’t like it that you always look so tired
So if the postposed fact clause is introduced by that, and the matrix clause has the verb be plus a nominal, the result may look like a predicated Theme; for example:
it was a mistake that the school was closed down
it’s your good luck that nobody noticed
But these are not predicated Themes; the postposed Subject is not a relative clause, and there is no agnate form with the predication removed, proportional to it was his teacher who persuaded him to continue: his teacher persuaded him to continue. The last example is in fact ambiguous, and could be used to illustrate the difference: it’s your good luck (that) nobody noticed
(i) predicated Theme: agnate to
nobody noticed your good luck 
(ii) postposed Subject: agnate to
the fact that nobody noticed was your good luck

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Theme Predication Vs Postposition: Afterthought

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 124):
A structure that can look superficially like Theme predication, but is not, is that involving postposition, where one nominal element of the clause – typically the Subject, though not always — is delayed to the end and the appropriate pronoun is inserted as a substitute in its original slot. This may be a nominal group, as in:
they don’t make sense, these instructions
shall I hang it above the door, your Chinese painting?
in some places they’ve become quite tame, the wombats
Here the Theme is, as usual, the item(s) in first position: they, shall + I, in some places; while the postposed nominal functions as Afterthought, realised prosodically by a second, minor tonic with tone 3:
// 1 ^ they / don’t make / sense these in// 3 structions //

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Predicated Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 123-4):
… the conflation of Theme with New is a regular feature. The sense is of course contrastive, because of the exclusive equation … It is this mapping of New and Theme, in fact, that gives the predicated theme construction its special flavour. …
Since tonic prominence is not marked in writing, the predication has the additional function in written English of directing the reader to interpret the information structure in the intended way.

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Commonality Of Thematic Equatives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 122):
This system [THEME PREDICATION] resembles that of THEME IDENTIFICATION, in that it does identify one element as being exclusive at that point in the clause. Both are in fact equative constructions. But there are also differences between the two.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 122n):
Theme predication is often discussed under the heading of ‘cleft sentence’ – a term going back to Jespersen (e.g. 1928: 37, 88–92; 1937: Section 25.4), or ‘it-clefts’ to distinguish them from ‘wh- clefts’ or ‘pseudo-clefts’ (theme identification).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Given + New & Theme + Rheme Structures

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 120):
But both are, of course, speaker-selected.  It is the speaker who assigns both structures, mapping one on to the other to give a composite texture to the discourse and thereby relate it to its environment. At any point in the discourse process, there will have been built up a rich verbal and non-verbal environment for what is to follow; the speaker’s choices are made against the background of what has been said and what has happened before. The environment will often create local conditions which override the globally unmarked pattern of Theme within Given, New within Rheme.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Given + New Vs Theme + Rheme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 120):
But although they are related, Given + New and Theme + Rheme are not the same thing.  The Theme is what I, the speaker, choose to take as my point of departure. The Given is what you, the listener, already know about or have accessible to you. Theme + Rheme is speaker–oriented, whereas Given + New is listener–oriented.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The Unmarked Relationship Between Information Structure And Thematic Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 119-20): 
There is a close semantic relationship between the system of INFORMATION and the system of THEME — between information structure and thematic structure. This is reflected in the unmarked relationship between the two. Other things being equal, one information unit is co-extensive with one (ranking) clause (‘unmarked tonality’); and, in that case, the ordering of Given ^ New (‘unmarked tonicity’) means that the Theme falls within the Given, while the New falls within the Rheme.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Inherently Given Elements

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
There are a number of elements in language that are inherently ‘given’ in the sense that they are not interpretable except by reference to some previous mention or some feature of the situation: anaphoric elements (those that refer to things mentioned before) and deictic elements (those that are interpreted by reference to the ‘here-&-now’ of the discourse). Typically these items do not carry information focus; if they do, they are contrastive. So when we say that, for any information unit, the unmarked structure is that with the focus on the final element, this excludes any items that are inherently given.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Given And New [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
The significant variable is: information that is presented by the speaker as recoverable (Given) or not recoverable (New) to the listener. What is treated as recoverable may be so because it has been mentioned before; but that is not the only possibility. It may be something that is in the situation, like I and you; or in the air, so to speak; or something that is not around at all but that the speaker wants to present as Given for rhetorical purposes. The meaning is: this is not news. Likewise, what is treated as non-recoverable may be something that has not been mentioned; but it may be something unexpected, whether previously mentioned or not. The meaning is: attend to this; this is news. One form of ‘newness’ that is frequent in dialogue is contrastive emphasis.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Given Information After The New

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 118):
The unmarked position for the New is at the end of the information unit. But it is possible to have Given material following the New; and any accented matter that follows the tonic foot is thereby signalled as being Given.

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Culmination Of New Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
The tonic foot defines the culmination of what is New: it marks where the New element ends. In the typical instance, this will be the last functional element of clause structure in the information unit. As this implies, the typical sequence of informational elements is thus Given followed by New. But whereas the end of the New element is marked by tonic prominence, there is nothing to mark where it begins; so there is indeterminacy in the structure. If we take an instance out of context, we can tell that it culminates with the New; but we cannot tell on phonological grounds whether there is a Given element first, or where the boundary between Given and New would be. (This is not always true.)

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Information Focus

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116): 
Each information unit is realised as a pitch contour, or tone, which may be falling, rising or mixed (falling-rising, rising-falling). This pitch contour extends over the whole tone group. Within the tone group, one foot (and in particular its first syllable) carries the main pitch movement: the main fall, or rise, or the change of direction. This feature is known as tonic prominence, and the element having this prominence is the tonic element (tonic foot, tonic syllable). We indicate tonic prominence by a form of graphic prominence: bold type for print, wavy underlining for manuscript and typescript. The element having this prominence is said to be carrying information focus.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Information Unit Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
In the idealised form each information unit consists of a Given element accompanied by a New element. But there are two conditions of departure from this principle. One is that discourse has to start somewhere, so there can be discourse-initiating units consisting of a New element only. The other is that by its nature the Given is likely to be phoric — referring to something already present in the verbal or non-verbal context; and one way of achieving phoricity is through ellipsis, a grammatical form in which certain features are not realised in the structure. Structurally, therefore, we shall say that an information unit consists of an obligatory New element plus an optional Given. The way this structure is realised is essentially ‘natural’ (non-arbitrary), in two respects:
(i) the New is marked by prominence;
(ii) the Given typically precedes the New.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Grammatical Information Vs Mathematical Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 116):
Information, in this technical grammatical sense, is the tension between what is already known or predictable and what is new or unpredictable. This is different from the mathematical concept of information, which is the measure of unpredictability.  It is the interplay of new and not new that generates information in the linguistic sense. Hence the information unit is a structure made up of two functions, the New and the Given.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Information Unit: Unmarked Vs Marked

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115-6):
An information unit does not correspond exactly to any other unit in the grammar. The nearest grammatical unit is in fact the clause; and we can regard this as the unmarked or default condition: other things being equal, one information unit will be co-extensive with one clause. But other things are often not equal, for reasons that will be brought out in the following sections. Thus a single clause may be mapped into two or more information units; or a single information unit into two or more clauses. Furthermore, the boundaries may overlap, with one information unit covering, say, one clause and half of the next.  So, the information unit has to be set up as a constituent in its own right. At the same time, its relationship to the clausal constituents is by no means random, and instances of overlapping boundaries are clearly ‘marked’; so the two constituent structures, the clausal and the informational, are closely interconnected.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Grammatical Function Of The Tone Group

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115):
… the tone group functions grammatically as realisation of a quantum of information in the discourse. It is this quantum of information that we have called the information unit. Spoken English unfolds as a sequence of information units, typically one following another in unbroken succession – there is no pause or other discontinuity between them.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

The Information Unit


Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 115):
[informationis a system not of the clause, but of a separate grammatical unit, the information unit. The information unit is a unit that is parallel to the clause and the other units belonging to the same rank scale as the clause.
  • clause 
  • group/phrase 
  • word 
  • morpheme
Since it is parallel with the clause (and the units the clause consists of), it is variable in extent in relation to the clause and may extend over more than one clause or less than one clause; but in the unmarked case it is co-extensive with the clause.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Managing The Discourse Flow Structurally: Theme & Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114-5):
Below the clause complex, the grammar manages the discourse flow by structural means; and here there are two related systems at work. One is a system of the clause, viz. THEME; this we have been discussing throughout the present chapter so far. The THEME system construes the clause in the guise of a message, made up of Theme + Rheme. The other is the system of INFORMATION.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Resources For Creating Discourse Within The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
These textual resources are of two kinds: (i) structural; (ii) cohesive. What this means is as follows.  The grammar construes structural units up to the rank of the clause complex …; there it stops. But although the grammar stops here, the semantics does not: the basic semantic unit is the text … .  So the grammar provides other, non-structural resources for managing the flow of discourse: for creating semantic links across sentences — or rather, semantic links which work equally well either within or across sentences. These latter are referred to collectively under the name of cohesion

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Textual Component Within The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
… the resource for creating discourse — text that ‘hangs together’, with itself and its context of situation.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Theme + Rheme Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
the Theme + Rheme structure is not so much a configuration of clearly bounded constituents as a movement running through the clause; this is one perspective which it is useful to keep in view.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Deicticity And Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113-4):
The WH- element in turn is part of a wider set embracing both WH- and TH- forms, which taken together fulfil a deictic or ‘pointing out’ function …
The generalisation we can make here is that all deictic elements are characteristically thematic …

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Commonality Of ‘Interrogative’ And ‘Relative’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113):
Thus all WH- groups and phrases have this dual function: on the one hand, as an element in the experiential structure; on the other hand, as marker of some special status of the clause, interrogative (mood) or relative (dependence).  These two values, interrogative and relative, are themselves related at a deeper level, through the general sense of ‘identity to be retrieved from elsewhere’; the ‘indefinite’ ones illustrate a kind of transition between the two …
The category of WH- element opens up this semantic space, of an identity that is being established by interrogation, perhaps with an element of challenge or disbelief; or put aside as irrelevant; or established relative to some other entity.