Macquarie University
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A text-based study of the grammar of Chinese from a systemic functional approach

posted on 2022-03-28, 21:35 authored by Eden Sum Hung Li
This is a purpose-oriented and text-based study of the clause grammar of Chinese from a systemic functional perspective. Using data from the Chinese translation of an Englishlanguage novel, I have explored the non-arbitrary relationship between the semantic and grammatical system networks of the three modes of meaning, namely ideational, interpersonal and textual, by taking an inductive, top-down approach. The ideational meaning construes our experience of the world around us and inside us as a structural configuration; the interpersonal meaning enacts our social and intersubjective roles through the selection of speech functions; and finally the textual meaning enables the ideational and interpersonal meanings to proceed as a flow of information, i.e. as text in context. -- This is a study of text, an attempt to extend the clause grammar towards discourse semantics. Texts are studied as an unfolding process, and hence instead of modeling text as a generic structure, system networks which indicate the meaning potential that a language user can utilise are constructed. The ways in which the interactants take turns to make a conversation move on have been examined; the systems which control the flow of information as a text unfolds have been constructed; and finally, the issue of textual connexity has been explored. The issue of connexity in the present study embodies three concepts: the connexity of information chunks, which is concerned with the property of cohesion; the connexity of messages, which is closely related to the property of coherence; and the connexity of text, which includes methods of thematic progression and thematic selection. -- This thesis is also a contrastive study of Chinese and English, hoping to shed some light on translation between the two languages and on teaching Chinese to English speakers. The grammatical systems of the three modes of meaning in the two languages have been compared from three angles: from around, i.e. concerning the options available in the systems; from above, i.e. concerning the syntactic structural differences of the options; and from below, i.e. concerning the syntactic structural differences of the options, as well as the relative frequencies of the various options in the systems.


Table of Contents

Introduction to a description of the grammar of Chinese -- Ideational clause grammar: the semantic system of FIGURE and the grammatical system of TRANSITIVITY -- Interpersonal clause grammar: the semantic system of SPEECH FUNCTION and the grammatical system of MOOD -- Textual clause grammar: the semantic systems of TEXTUAL PROMINENCE and TEXTUAL STATUS and the grammatical systems of THEME and INFORMATION -- From the clause towards discourse: the system of VOICE -- Beyond the clause: connexity of texts -- Contrastive analysis of Chinese and English.


Bibliography: p. [494]-504 (part 1)

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 Matthiessen

Additional Supervisor 1

Edmund Ronowicz


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Eden Sumhung Li 2003.




2 parts (xxiii, 504, 162 p.) ill. (some col.)

Former Identifiers

mq:9040 1394243