Macquarie University
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Clause and verbal group system in Chinese: a text-based functional approach

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:14 authored by Edward McDonald
This study sets out to explore the relationship between grammatical patterning and the organisation of discourse in Modem Standard Chinese. Chapter 0 lays the groundwork for the theoretical framework and the descriptive methodology of the thesis. Chapter 1 discusses the questions of what constitutes a text, and how a text relates to the context in which it is produced. It introduces the three functional components or metafunctions of systemic functional theory according to which language use may be understood - the textual, the interpersonal, and the experiential - and shows how these metafunctions can be used in the description of a text to make connections between its context of situation (register), its overallorganisation as a text (discourse-semantics) and the form of its wording (lexicogrammar). It describes the lexicogrammar of a single Chinese text in terms of the basic grammatical systems which build up the meaning of the clause, and the functional clause elements which realise those systems. Chapter 2 reviews the grammatical description put forward in Chapter 1 in terms of the different structures constituted by the textual, interpersonal and experiential elements of the clause in Chinese. It discusses the relationship between the central lexicogrammatical unit of clause and the other units of which it is constituted, and shows how the different functional components of the lexicogrammar define structures whose scope doesnot always coincide with the clause. It then examines how clauses are joined together, analysing the text in terms of a fvirther functional structure - the logical, and shows how these four types of grammatical structure come together to express the meanings of the whole text. Chapter 3 examines the grammatical systems that lie behind the different function structures of the clause. It compares the single text used in Chapter 1 with other Chinese texts which contrast with it in terms of their textual, interpersonal, experiential or logical patterning, and discusses the ways in which a grammatical description is influenced by features of the texts chosen as data. It then contrasts the parameters of this systemic functional description of Chinese grammar with other descriptive frameworks. Chapter 4 sets out the systemic meaning options available in the verbal group in Chinese and the structures through which they are reahsed, and shows the relationship of the verbal group systems to the clause systems already described in previous chapters. It traces the changes in verbal group marking through the unfolding of a particular Chinese text by describing the meanings that are taken up from verbal group systems at different points in the text, and identifying the various factors that trigger this marking. Chapter 5 sums up the issues raised throughout the thesis in setting up a framework for describing Chinese clause and verbal group systems through their contribution to the organisation of text. It characterises the relationship between the different layers of meaning in text - the grammatical meanings embodied in clauses and groups, and the semantic meanings realised over the text as a whole-and shows how grammatical description needs to be both top-down, i.e. in terms of the contexts of grammatical structure, and bottom-up, i.e. in terms of its realisations. In putting forward this small-scale functional description of the grammar of a number of Chinese texts, it is concerned to develop a text based process of grammatical description which can be applied for purposes, such as language teaching,which depend on interpreting the meaning and wording of texts.


Table of Contents

Chapter 0. Aims and organisation of the study -- Chapter 1. The grammar of a Chinese text: developing a descriptive framework -- Chapter 2. Modelling grammatical structure in Chinese -- Chapter 3. Text data and grammatical description: a system-based approach -- Chapter 4. Verbal group systems in text -- Chapter 5. Contextualising verbal group making: issues in the development of a text-based description of Chinese grammar.


Bibliography: pages 354-361

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, School of Linguistisc and Media

Department, Centre or School

School of English, Linguistics and Media

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jane Simpson

Additional Supervisor 1

Christian Matthiessen


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Edward McDonald 1973.




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