Macquarie University
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A systemic functional interpretation of Thai grammar: an exploration of Thai narrative discourse

posted on 2022-03-29, 00:37 authored by Pattama Patpong
This research is a text-based study of the grammar of standard Thai, based on systemic functional linguistics. It is the first attempt to explore Thai in systemic functional terms, that is with the account of the grammar of Thai being interpreted as resource for making meaning that is part of language as a higher-order semiotic system. This account utilizes a corpus-based methodology and explores extensive evidence from natural narrative texts, specifically fourteen Thai folk tales. This systemic functional interpretation of Thai is also supported by an investigation of other text types (See Chapter 2). The research has both intermediate and long term implications. The description itself will be a resource for the Thai community and it will also contribute to the growing area of linguistic typology based on systemic descriptions. The long term implication of the research is that the description will be used as a model for text-based research into minority languages in Thailand. -- There are two introductory chapters to the study. The first chapter discusses some general issues concerned with systemic functional theory and data used in the development of the description of the grammar of Thai. The second chapter is a preview chapter which provides an overview of the grammar of Thai in terms of three strands of meaning: textual, interpersonal, and the experiential mode of ideational meanings. The systemic functional interpretation is based on an exploration of a number of texts with a wide generic spread (e.g. news reports, topographic texts, encyclopedia, and television interview). -- Chapter 3 to Chapter 7 constitute the main body of the thesis. Chapter 3 deals with the textual metafunction: it explores the THEME system as the enabling resource for the clause grammar for presenting interpersonal and experiential meanings as a flow of information in context. Chapter 4 is concerned with the interpersonal metafunction. It is focused on exploring the MOOD system, that is, the resource of clause grammar for enacting social roles and relationships in an exchange. Chapter 5 is concerned with the experiential mode of the ideational metafunction: it investigates the TRANSITIVITY system, which is the resource of the clause grammar for construing our experience of the world around and inside us. As this thesis is based mainly on narrative discourse, Chapter 6 profiles Thai narratives in terms of context, semantics, and lexicogrammar. Firstly, at the context stratum, the chapter describes the generic structure potential of Thai folk tales. Secondly, the chapter describes the realization of this generic structure by semantic properties. Finally, the chapter is concerned with quantitatively exploring the narratives on the basis of clause-rank systems, at the stratum of lexicogrammar, across the metafunctional spectrum midway up the cline of instantiation. In the final chapter, the study concludes by summarizing the preceding chapters, pointing out research implications and limitations, and suggesting some areas for further studies.


Alternative Title

Exploration of Thai narrative discourse

Table of Contents

Systemic functional linguistics as a framework for description -- An overview of the grammar of Thai -- Textual clause grammar: the system of THEME -- Interpersonal clause grammar: the system of MOOD -- Experiential grammar at clause rank: the system of TRANSITIVITY -- Thai narrative register: context, semantics and lexicogrammatical profiles -- Conclusions.


Bibliography: p. 742-762

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Linguistics & Psychology, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen

Additional Supervisor 1

Canzhong Wu


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Pattama Patpong 2006. This thesis was digitised for the purposes of Document Delivery. Macquarie University ResearchOnline attempted to locate the author but where this has not been possible; we are making available, open access, the thesis which may be used for the purposes of private research and study. If you have any enquiries or issues regarding this work being made available please contact Macquarie University ResearchOnline -




xxxv, 762 ill. +

Former Identifiers

mq:3127 1285402