Relational clauses in English technical discourse
Patterns of verb choice
This paper reports on patterns of verb choice in identifying relational clauses (e.g. ‘X is Y, Y is X’) in English technical manuals. While it is obvious that specific lexical verbs will feature in identifying clauses of different functions, e.g. mean (defining), call (naming), exemplify (exemplifying), less transparent is the distribution of these more specific verbs and the general or neutral verb be. The findings suggest that verb choice in (technical) identifying clauses is strongly associated with the degree of equivalence constructed between the two central nominal groups in the clause (the Token and Value). Equivalence relations are one-to-one (rather than one-to-many) and exhaustive (rather than semantically open). Major grammatical influences on equivalence include nominal group structure, ergativity of the clause, and the inclusion of features (e.g. interpersonal, logical or textual) that undermine the privileging of an experientially homogeneous world-view. The results challenge the notions that be and specific verbs are interchangeable and that be is an unmarked choice. On the contrary, the data reveal that under certain conditions be is the more marked choice. The results have practical implications for teachers and students of English (in particular, students of English for Academic and/or Specific Purposes) as well as translators.
) Categories of experiential grammar
. Ph.D. thesis, University of Leuven.
) A semiotic approach to relational clauses
. Occasional Papers in Systemic Linguistics
61: 99-131. BoP
) Transitivity/ergativity: The janus-headed grammar of actions and events
. In M. Davies
& L. Ravelli
(eds.), Advances in systemic linguistics: Recent theory and practice
. London: Pinter, pp. 103-135.
) Turning grammar on itself: Identifying clauses in linguistic discourse
. In M. Berry
, C. Butler
, R. Fawcett
& G. Huang
(eds.), Meaning and form: Systemic functional interpretations (Meaning and choice in language: Studies for Michael Halliday)
. Ablex: Norwood, New Jersey, pp. 367-393.
) Pragmatic modifications on the ‘representative’ speech act of defining
. Journal of Pragmatics
151: 253-264. BoP
) On theme, rheme and discourse goals
. In M. Coulthard
(ed.), Advances in written text analysis
. London: Routledge, pp. 229-249.
) Notes on transitivity and theme in English (Parts 1 and 2)
. Journal of Linguistics
3.1: 37-81 & 3.2: 199-244. BoP
) Notes on transitivity and theme in English (Part 3)
. Journal of Linguistics
4.2: 179- 215. BoP
) Language as social semiotic
. London: Edward Arnold. BoP
) Corpus studies and probabilistic grammar
. In K. Aijer
& B. Altenberg
(eds.), English corpus linguistics: Studies in honour of Jan Svartvik
. London & New York: Longman, pp. 30-43.
) Towards probabilistic interpretations
. In E. Ventola
(ed.) Functional and systemic linguistics: Approaches and uses
. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 39-61.
) Introduction to functional grammar
. (2nd Ed.) London: Edward Arnold.
Halliday, M.A.K. & R. Hasan
) Cohesion in English
. London & New York: Longman. BoP
Halliday, M.A.K. & J. R. Martin
) Writing science: Literacy and discursive power
. London: Falmer.
Halliday, M.A.K. & Z. James
) A quantitative study of polarity and primary tense in the English finite clause
. In J. Sinclair
, M. Hoey
& G. Fox
(eds.), Techniques of description: Spoken and written discourse
. London: Routledge, pp. 32-66.
) Equivalence and depersonalisation in definitions: An exploration of lexicogrammatical and rhetorical patterns in English technical discourse
. Ph.D. thesis, University of Sydney.
) The structure of the Russian verb
. In L. Waugh
& M. Halle
Russian and Slavic grammar studies, 1931-1981
. Berlin, New York & Amsterdam: Mouton, pp. 1-14.
) Foundations of cognitive grammar
. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. BoP
) Talking science: Language, learning and values
. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex. BoP
) Learning to make definitions
. Journal of Child Language
) Lexicogrammatical cartography: English systems
. Tokyo: International Language Sciences Publishers. BoP
) Theme as an enabling resource in ideational ‘knowledge’ construction
. In M. Ghadessy
(ed.), Thematic development in English texts
. London: Pinter, pp. 20-55.
) Word and verbal art: Selected essays
. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Nesbitt, C. & G. Plum
) Probabilities in a systemic grammar: The clause complex in English
. In R. Fawcett
& D. Young
(eds.), New developments in systemic linguistics, Vol 2: Theory and application
. London: Frances Pinter, pp. 6-38.
Plum, G., C. Matthiessen, M. O’Donnell, L. Zeng, C. Nesbitt, A. Harvey, M.A.K. Halliday & J. Bateman
) EDA research and development: Final report
. Internal Document, Fujitsu Australia Ltd.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, G. Leech & J. Svartvik
) A comprehensive grammar of the English language
. London: Longman. BoP
) Definities in schooltaal: Communicatieve, cognitieve en tekstuele aspecten van definiëren in de derde graad van het basisonderwijs
. (2 volumes1). Ph.D. Thesis, Antwerpen: Universitaire Instelling Antwerpen.
Van Oosten, J.
) Sitting, standing and lying in Dutch: A cognitive approach to the distribution of the verbs zitten, staan, and liggen
. In J. van Oosten
& J. Snapper
(eds.), Dutch linguistics in Berkeley
. Berkeley: UCB, pp. 137-160.
Wignell, P., J.R. Martin & S. Eggins
) The discourse of geography: Ordering and explaining the experiential world
. In M.A.K. Halliday
& J.R. Martin
(eds.), Writing Science: Literacy and discursive power
. London & Washington, DC: Falmer.
Cited by 1 other publications
. Revisiting the metadiscursive aspect of definitions in academic writing
. Journal of English for Academic Purposes
pp. 104 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 9 november 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
Any errors therein should be reported to them.