Revisiting the Functions of Language (EN1 Reflection 9)

Functional Grammar Cheat Sheet

Language resources we draw on:

  • In expressing ideas and representing our experience of the world.
  • To make connections between ideas
  • When interacting with others
  • In constructing texts which are coherent and cohesive.

Expressing Ideas

What’s Happening (Processes), who/what is involved (The Participants) and what are the surround details? (The Circumstances).

Types of clauses: Relating, saying, action, sensing, existing.

Circumstances of places track the changing location of the action.

Circumstances of time locate the activity in a daily routine – We can break in to create drama.

Participants are vital in bringing characters to life, through highly descriptive noun groups.

Figurative language versus literal language.


Connecting ideas

Single clauses for dramatic effect.

Compound sentences using coordinating conjunctions similar to the way we combine clauses in the spoken language.

Combining independent clauses with dependent clauses are both ‘when’ clauses of time – This is typical for storytelling.

Clauses are also related to each other in terms of direct speech – Typical feature of stories.

There are embedded clauses that take on the role of the Participant – acting as a placeholder.

Overall we could say that the clauses in the story generally form either simple sentences or compound sentences – Typical of short stories with no great deal of complexity in the logical relationship between clauses.

Interacting with others: Interpersonal charge

Don’t only look at how language functions to represent experiences, but also how interpersonal charge can engage the reader.

The system of Appraisal:

Expressing attitudes (Attitude)  – Adjusting Strength (Graduation) – Opening up or contracting interaction space (Engagement)

Revealing emotions is essential – emotions are at the heart of any story. They can be:

Positive or negative – Directly stated or implied – related to such matters as happiness, security or satisfaction.

Judging behaviour

Judged in terms of attributes such as:

Normality – Capacity – Tenacity – Veracity – Propriety

Appreciating things can be critical but not necessarily prevalent.

Adjusting strength by quantifying or focusing.

Boosting the strength through:

Intensification – Superlatives – Rhetorical patterns

We can lower strength by focusing techniques such as diminishers.

Opening up interaction – Modality and evidentially

Closing down the interactions – Negatives

Creating cohesive texts: Developing texture.

Cohesiveness achieved through:

Reference – Ellipsis – Text connectives – Word patterns – Synonyms – Antonyms – Part-whole patterns – Class-subclass patterns – Repetition