Macquarie University
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When things speak

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posted on 2022-03-28, 11:37 authored by Penelope Jane Wheeler
In this study four cases of "speaking things" are investigated, with selections from the "consumables" of everyday, commercial contexts, who demand "Eat me!"; from art history, inscriptions which "speak" to their audience; and from literature, where the participants in two extended narratives, the cross in The dream of the rood and the stone in The story of the stone, project alternative models for human experience. Using analytical tools appropriate to these instances, and supported by literature from these various fields, this study locates these different but overlapping linguistic constructions of objects against the speech role network fundamental to systemic functional linguistics, and outlines the semantic patterns in which these "things" operate. In each case, when things speak, they cross network boundaries and re-shape participant interactions around them: but this investigation shows that these disruptive functions of speaking things do not break but, rather, powerfully strengthen and duplicate the cultural and ideological meanings of these texts.


Table of Contents

About this study -- A. Physical objects that speak. Case 1. "Eat me!" -- Case 2. Speaking inscriptions B. Speaking objects in extended narratives. Case 3. The rood -- Case 4. The stone -- Conclusions and future directions.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 160-165

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

David Butt


Copyright Penelope Jane Wheeler 2015. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xii, 165 pages) colour illustrations

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