Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
From a typological point of view, construing experience in terms of categories means locating them somewhere in [a] network of relations.
… the mental distinction between ‘emanating’ and ‘impinging’ is … the distinction between ‘middle’ and ‘effective’.
The ergative structure is open–ended, and a further round of agency can always be added on:the ball rolled : Fred rolled the ball : Mary made Fred roll the ball : John got Mary to make Fred roll the ball : …The transitive structure, on the other hand, is configurational; it cannot be extended in this way. Thus, from a transitive point of view, Mary made Fred roll the ball is not a single process; it is two processes forming one complex.
From a transitive point of view, in these initiating structures there is a feature of cause added. … From an ergative point of view, these clauses simply add a feature of agency. If the clause already has an Agent in the structure, the only way this can be done is by using an analytic causative; this makes it possible to bring in an Agent of the second order …
There is a large class of material processes of this kind where the agnate causatives are, or may be, attributive: the sun ripened the fruit/made the fruit ripen, her voice calmed the audience/made the audience calm; these will belong to the ‘initiating’ type — if we say the sun ripened, her voice calmed, the meaning changes from ‘make (ripe/calm)’ to ‘become (ripe/calm)’.
In ergative terms, ‘a does something to x’ and ‘a makes x do something’ are both cases of ‘x is involved in something, brought about by a’.
… then there are the ‘indirect participants’ functioning as Complements to prepositions, some of which … are potential Subjects; these give various other kinds of receptive such as ‘Location–receptive’, for example the bed hadn’t been slept in, ‘Manner–receptive’, for example this pen’s never been written with, and so on. Normally these are also medio–receptives, that is, they are middle not effective clauses. But receptives with idiomatic phrasal verbs, such as it’s been done away with, she’s very much looked up to, that prize has never been put in for, are often ‘true’ receptives in the sense that the prepositional phrase really represents a participant …
… there are other potential Subjects besides Agent and Medium. There are the other participants, the Beneficiary and Range, either of which may be selected as Subject of the clause; the verb will then similarly be in passive.
In spoken English the great majority of receptive clauses are, in fact, Agent–less … The speaker leaves the listener to locate the source.
The reasons for choosing receptive are as follows:(1) to get the Medium as Subject, and therefore as unmarked Theme … and(2) to make the Agent either(i) late news, by putting it last … or(ii) implicit, by leaving it out.
Strictly speaking an effective clause has the feature ‘agency’ rather than the structural function Agent, because this may be left implicit … The presence of an ‘agency’ feature is in fact the difference between a pair of clauses such as the glass broke and the glass was (or got) broken: the latter embodies the feature of agency, so that one can ask the question ‘who by?’, while the former allows for one participant only.
A clause with no feature of ‘agency’ is neither active nor passive but middle. One with agency is non-middle, or effective, in agency. An effective clause is then either operative or receptive in voice. In an operative clause, the Subject is the Agent and the Process is realised by an active verbal group; in a receptive [clause] the Subject is Medium and the Process is realised by a passive verbal group.
In a transitive pattern the participants are obligatory Actor and optional Goal; if there is Actor only, the verb is intransitive and active in voice, while if both are present the verb is transitive and may be either active or passive. This is still the basis of the English system; but there is little trace of transitivity left in the verb, and voice is now more a feature of the clause.
… the Complement of a preposition can often emerge to function as Subject … This pattern suggests that Complements of prepositions, despite being embedded in an element that has a circumstantial function, are still felt to be participating, even if at a distance, in the process expressed by the clause.
… just as those elements which are treated essentially as participants can sometimes occur with a preposition, so at least some elements which are treated essentially as circumstances can sometimes occur without one. With expressions of Extent and Location there is often no preposition …
… the choice of ‘plus or minus preposition’ with Agent, Beneficiary and Range … serves a textual function. … The principle is as follows. If a participant other than the Medium is in a place of prominence in the message, it tends to take a preposition (ie to be construed as ‘indirect’ participant); otherwise it does not. Prominence in the message means functioning either
(i) as marked Theme (ie Theme but not Subject) or
(ii) as ‘late news’ — that is, occurring after some other participant, or circumstance, that already follows the Process.
In other words, prominence comes from occurring either earlier or later than expected in the clause; and it is this that is being reinforced by the presence of the preposition. The preposition has become a signal of special status in the message.
Semantically, therefore, Agent, Beneficiary and Range have some features of participants and some of circumstances: they are mixed. And this is reflected in the fact that grammatically also they are mixed: they may enter in to a clause either directly as nominal groups (participant–like) or indirectly in prepositional phrases (circumstance–like).
These, seen from a transitive perspective, are circumstantial: Agent is a kind of Manner, Beneficiary is a kind of Cause and Range is a kind of Extent; and they can all be expressed as minor processes. But seen from an ergative point of view they are additional participants in the major process: the nucleus of ‘Process + Medium’ has an inner ring of additional participants as well as an outer ring of circumstances surrounding it …
… the ergative is a nuclear rather than a linear interpretation; and if this component is to the fore, there may be a whole cluster of participant–like functions in the clause: not only Agent but also Beneficiary and Range.
The transitive is a linear interpretation; and since the only function that can be defined by extension in this way is Goal (together with, perhaps, the analogous functions of Target in a verbal process and Phenomenon* in a mental process of the please [‘impinging’] type), systems which are predominantly transitive in character tend to emphasise the distinction between participants (ie direct participants, Actor and Goal only) and circumstances (all other functions).
There may be in each type of clause one element which is not so much an entity participating in the process as a refinement of the process itself. This may be the name of a particular variety of the process, which being a noun can then be modified for quantity and for quality … Since here the kind of action, event, behaviour, sensing or saying is specified by the noun, as a participant function, the verb may be entirely general in meaning … Or, secondly, this element may be an entity, but one that plays a part in the process not by acting, or being acted upon, but by marking its domain … It is characteristic of this second type that they are on the borderline of participants and circumstances; there is often a closely related form of prepositional phrase …
… in the identifying, the criteria tend to conflict. For purposes of simplicity, we will interpret the Token as Medium and the Value as Range in all types, although this does ignore some aspects of the patterning of such clauses in text.
The two kinds of Verbiage, that which refers to the content, as in describe the apartment, and that which specifies the nature of the verbal process, such as tell a story, are analogous respectively to the material ‘entity Scope’ and ‘process Scope’.
[In the like [‘emanating’] type of mental process] the Phenomenon bears no kind of resemblance to a Goal. But it does show certain affinities with the Scope. It figures as Subject, in the ‘receptive’, under similarly restricted conditions; and it appears in expressions, such as enjoy the pleasure, saw the sight, have an understanding of, which are analogous to material Scope expressions of the ‘process’ type, such as play a game, have a game. So we can interpret the rôle of the Phenomenon in the like type of mental process as a counterpart of that of Scope in the material; it is the element which delimits the boundaries of the sensing.
In a ‘material’, the Range is the Scope; in a ‘behavioural’ clause, the Range is the Behaviour.
The Range is the element that specifies the range or domain of the process. A Range may occur in ‘material’, ‘behavioural’, ‘mental’, ‘verbal’, and 'relational' clauses — but not in ‘existential’ ones.
The Beneficiary regularly functions as Subject in the clause; in that case the verb is in the ‘receptive’ voice.
There are also a few ‘relational’ clauses of the ‘attributive’ mode containing a Beneficiary, for example him in she made him a good wife, it cost him a pretty penny. We shall just refer to this as a Beneficiary, without introducing a more specific term, since these hardly constitute a recognisably distinct rôle in the clause.
The Beneficiary is realised by (to +) nominal group (Recipient) or (for +) nominal group (Client); the presence of the preposition is determined by textual factors.
In a ‘material’ clause, the Beneficiary is either the Recipient or the Client. … In a ‘verbal’ clause, the Beneficiary is the Receiver.
The Beneficiary is the one to whom or for whom the process is said to take place. It appears in ‘material’ and ‘verbal’ clauses, and occasionally in ‘relational’ ones. (In other words, there are no Beneficiaries in ‘mental’, ‘behavioural’ or ‘existential’ clauses.)
[With] decoding clauses (those where Token = Identified/Medium) the passive [ie receptive] is … rather rare. By contrast, in an encoding identifying clause, where the Token is Identifier/Agent and the Value is Identified/Medium, passive [ie receptive] is more or less as frequent as active [ie operative] … but only the active [ie operative] will accommodate a further agency …
In the identifying type, it is normally possible to add a feature of agency (an Assigner) provided the clause is operative (Token as Subject) …
In the attributive type, this is a distinct function analogous to the material Initiator: the one that brings about the attribution … This is the Attributor.
[The please [‘impinging’] type of mental process] shares certain features of an effective material process: it occurs freely in the ‘receptive’ (I’m pleased with it), and it can be generalised as a kind of ‘doing to’ (What does it do to you? — It pleases me). Here the Phenomenon shows some semblance to an Actor: from the ergative point of view, they are both Agent. The like [‘emanating’] type, on the other hand, displays none of these properties …
In a mental process, it is the Phenomenon — provided the process is encoded in one direction, from phenomenon to consciousness ['impinging'] and not the other way round ['emanating'].
In a material process, it is the Actor — provided the process is one that has a Goal; otherwise it may be present as the Initiator of the process.
… in addition to the Medium, there may be another participant functioning as an external cause. This participant we will refer to as the Agent. Either the process is represented as self–engendering, in which case there is no separate Agent; or it is represented as engendered from outside, in which case there is another participant functioning as Agent.
The difference between ‘doing’ and ‘happening’ derives from a different principle from the transitive one of extension–and–impact: ‘happening’ means that the actualisation of the process is represented as being self–engendered, whereas 'doing' means that the actualisation of the process is represented as being caused by a participant that is external to the combination of Process + Medium. This external cause is the Agent.