Saturday, 10 March 2012

Material Subtypes Differentiated By Outcome Of Medium

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 184n):
… seen from a different perspective from that of the traditional transitive/intransitive model, these two functions, the intransitive Actor and the transitive Goal, are actually one and the same — the Medium. The differentiation of different sub-types of ‘material’ clauses is thus based on the combination of Medium + Process in the first instance. One might have expected that it would be based on Actor + Process instead, as the traditional model would suggest; but it turns out that although they have been favoured by philosophers of language drawing on action theory, distinctions based on Actor + Process such as animacy, potency and volitionality are less central to the system of ‘material’ clauses than distinctions based on Medium + Process. In fact, the grammar of transitivity is more centrally concerned with consciousness rather than with animacy, potency or volitionality.

Happening (Intransitive) Vs Doing (Transitive)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 180):
[The Actor] brings about the unfolding of the process through time, leading to an outcome that is different from the initial phase of the unfolding. This outcome may be confined to the Actor itself, in which case there is only one participant inherent in the process. Such a ‘material’ clause represents a happening and, using traditional terminology, we can call it intransitive. Alternatively, the unfolding of the process may extend to another participant, the Goal, impacting it in some way: the outcome is registered on the Goal in the first instance, rather than on the Actor. Such a ‘material’ clause represents a doing and we can call it transitive.


Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 181):
… in English and in many other languages — perhaps all, these concepts relate more appropriately to the clause than the verb. Transitivity is a system of the clause, affecting not only the verb serving as Process, but also participants and circumstances.

Receptive Voice: Purpose

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 232):
The reason for choosing the ‘receptive’ in English is to get the desired texture, in terms of Theme–Rheme and Given–New; in particular it avoids marked information focus (which carries an additional semantic feature of contrast).

Why ‘Operative’ & ‘Receptive’?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 182n):
It is helpful to make a terminological distinction between the voice contrast of the clause — operative/receptive, and the voice contrast of the verbal group — passive/active.

How Operative & Receptive Clauses Differ

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 182):
The clauses are the same experientially; they both represent a configuration of Actor + Process + Goal. But they differ in how these rôles are mapped onto the interpersonal functions in the modal structure of the clause. In the ‘operative’ variant, the Actor is mapped on to the Subject, so it is given modal responsibility and in the ‘unmarked’ case (in a ‘declarative’ clause) it is also the Theme; and the Goal is mapped on to the Complement, so in the ‘unmarked’ case it falls within the Rheme. However, in the ‘receptive’ variant, it is the Goal that is mapped onto the Subject, so it is assigned modal responsibiity and it is also the Theme in the ‘unmarked’ case; and the Actor has the status of an Adjunct within the Rheme of the clause and, as an Adjunct, it may be left out

Clause Voice: Operative Vs Receptive

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 181-2):
if there is a Goal of the process, as well as an Actor, the representation may come in either of two forms: either operative (active) … or receptive (passive) … The contrast between ‘operative’ and ‘receptive’ is a contrast in voice open to ‘transitive’ clauses.