Handout, E251, 1. Feb, 2000,  HH
    The experiential metafunction: Clause as representation

    Ideational (construes human experience) – Transitivity
    Interpersonal (enacts human relationships) – Mood
    Textual (creates discourse) – Theme/Rheme

                Logical (links between components rather than unit–whole)
    Ideational function
                Experiential (modelling a domain of "knowledge" – construing organic ‘wholes’)

    Processes, participants, circumstances


    – setting up taxonomies of events, things and qualities
    – utterances/texts are about processes involving participants (under certain circumstances)
    semantic (role) process participant(s) circumstance
    verbal group
    nominal group:
    adverbial group / prepositional phrase

    material (‘doing’, ‘causing')
    behavioural (‘acting’)
    major  mental (‘thinking’, ‘sensing’, 'evaluating')
    process types verbal (‘saying’)
      relational (‘being’, ‘having’)
      existential (‘existing’, ‘appearing’)

    Thompson, p 79:
    Three questions that can be asked about any process and the clause of which it forms a nucleus:

    1. What kind of process is it?
    2. How many participants can/must be involved in the process?
    3. What roles can/must those participants play?
The three major types of processes with associated participants

Associated participants: Actor & Goal
Actor. the participant always inherent in a material clause. The Actor can be animate (‘action’) or inanimate (‘event’). The process it participates in may or may not extend to affect another participant, the Goal.

Actor Process         Goal
They were making supper.

Actor   Process Circumstance
The car crashed into a tree

Goal Process Circumstance
Rome was not built in a day.

Actor                                    Process          Goal       Circumstance
Ambulance crews, firefighters and police helped to rescue passengers from the water.

Goal           Process      Actor
The passengers were rescued by ambulance crews, firefighters and police

Associated participants: Senser & Phenomenon
Phenomenon. Participant role in the transitivity structure of a mental clause: the phenomenon sensed by the Senser. (Senser in bold; Phenomenon in italics.)

She saw them. She saw them leaving the house.
These people don’t understand functional grammar.
She recognized the dilemma she and every teenager around her found themselves in.
One professor felt we should get our feet dirty.
Sarah fears nothing. Nothing frightens her.
His behaviour disgusted many people. / Many people condemned his behaviour.


A Carrier is construed as being ascribed or attributed to an Attribute: the relation can be interpreted as one of class-membership – the Carrier is construed as a member of the class described by the Attribute.
Carrier Process Attribute Circumstance
His clothes are very expensive.  
You  are a fool.  
The barracks has become an art gallery now.
Some granite has large crystals.  
The teacher wasn't in her office.  
The names of some structures appear in boxes.  
This city park comes alive on Sundays.

In identifying clauses a general relationship of symbolization is construed between two participants, the Identified and the Identifier. The relationship can also be characterized as one between Token and Value:

Identified       Identifier
Token            Value
This sentence is an example of an identifying clause.

Identified     Identifier
Token  Process Value
Hamlet is      Shakespeare's most famous play.

Identified                              Identifier
Value                          Process  Token
Shakespeare's most famous play is      Hamlet.

Identified               Identifier
Token          Process   Value
Each structure expresses one kind of semantic organization.

Identified          Identifier
Token      Process  Value
The course comprises two years of full-time study.

Token/value analysis with intensive processes

The token is a symbol of something else, the value.

To identify which is which: use the verb represent instead of be. If the verb must be in the active voice to render the same meaning, the order is Token^Value. If the verb must be in the passive voice to render the same meaning, the order is Value^Token. (Cf: Hamlet represents S's most famous play vs. S's most famous play is represented by Hamlet.)

Attributive or identifying relational process?

Most possessive and circumstantial relational clauses are attributive, but with intensive clauses, we need to be able to distinguish.
  Attributive Identifying
Example John is a fool. John is the chairman.
Reversible? No (*a fool is John) Yes (*the chairman is John)
Probing question What is John like? What/who is John?
Realization of complement adjectival or nominal nominal
Semantic function of complement assign Carrier to a class, denote an Attribute of the Carrier assign a relationship of full identity between the subject and the complement. (i.e. Token = Value; Identified = Identifier)

Three minor process types

Associated participants: Sayer and Verbiage (+ Receiver)

  • She told me the story of her life.
  • He couldn't say a word.



    Associated participant: Existent (+Circumstance)

      1. There is a fly in my soup.
    Associated participant: Behaver (+Range)
      1. He was laughing.
      2. They hummed a little tune.
      3. We were watching the news.

      Supply the transitivity (experiential analysis) of these sentences
      Mary has written a letter  
      Subject | Finite
      Predicator | Complement
      Theme Rheme (textual)

      Mary likes poetry.
      Subject | Finite
      Predicator | Complement
      Theme Rheme

      Mary is taller than me.
      Subject Finite + Predicator Complement
      Theme Rheme

      Models are her most important idols.
      Subject Finite + Predicator Complement
      Theme Rheme

      Her most important idols are models.
      Subject Finite + Predicator Complement
      Theme Rheme

      There has been a burglary in our house.
      Mood Residue
      Theme Rheme

      The children asked us a lot of questions.
      Subject Finite + Predicator Complement Complement
      Theme Rheme

      watch these models
      Subject Finite + Predicator Complement
      Theme Rheme

      He is on holiday
      Subject Finite + Predicator Adjunct
      Theme Rheme
      Key here

      Texts for analysis:

      Identify the process types used in these two advertisements for cars. What can the process types reveal about the general style of the text?

      What matters is what car you're in. In the new Renault Mégane, prior to impact, our anti-lock braking system helps you maintain control. Collision sensors then fire tiny, explosively-charged clasp pre-tensioners to tug any slack out of your safety belt – binding you into your seat. 10 milliseconds later, a two-stage front airbag inflates, holding your chest and head in place far more gently than conventional systems. (Lateral airbags do the same in a side impact and are seat-mounted to be in the right position whatever your height.) After 70 milliseconds, seatbelt tension transfers to steel shock-absorbing belt mounts. They deform with pressure, taking the strain in place of your chest and shoulders. Close protection head rests cradle your head and neck against 'whiplash'. That's in the first tenth of a second. You've hardly realised you're going to crash. Yet already everything vital for your safety has happened. So far this year, our Systems for Restraint and Protection, or SRP, as we call it, has won the Mégane 'Safest Car in its Class' rating at the official Euro NCAP crash tests and What Car? magazine's coveted Safety Award. By all means invest effort and discipline looking and feeling as young as you can. But do it thankful that our concerns have been the opposite. We want you to get old.

      Call 0800 525150or visit www.renault.co.uk
      Stay beautiful
      The New Mégane
      Safest car in its class.


      Sports cars are beautiful. Small cars are practical. That's the conventional wisdom. Here's the unconventional. The new Toyota Yaris is both. It has a stylish innovative shape which is also the most aerodynamic in its class. Making it both easy on the eye and on the pocket. Inside it's the same. A beautifully-designed holographic instrument panel, angled towards the driver, makes keeping your eyes on the road and on your instruments less of a strain. It's also very spacious (2.5 cubic metres) with a rear seat that moves forward up to 15 cm to increase the size of the boot, or folds down completely for when you really need more room. Available in 3 and 5 door versions, prices range from £7,495 to £11,245 and there's a choice of payment schemes to make ownership even easier. What could be more practical?
      3 year/60,000 mile warranty. Telephone 0800 777555 www.toyota.co.uk/yaris
      The car in front is a TOYOTA YARIS

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