Saturday, 5 May 2012

Effective Clauses: The Feature ‘Agency’


Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 297-8):
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.

Middle & Effective Agency; Operative & Receptive Voice

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 297):
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.

Voice: Transitive Pattern

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 297):
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.

Complements In Prepositional Phrases

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 296-7):
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.

Circumstances: ± Preposition

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 296):
… 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 …