Annual Review of Functional Linguistics Vol 4

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Table of Contents
Editors' Introduction:"Broadening the Path" in the Chinese Context 
Exploring Patterns of Conjunction in Different Registers:A Challenge from SFL for Corpus Linguists 
Problems and Solutions in Identifying Processes and Participant Roles in Discourse Analysis 
Part 2:How to Handle Metaphor,Idiom and Six Other Problems 
A Typological Perspective on Relations between Genres in Popular Science 
A Functional Exploration of the/t-Evaluative Construction 
Systemic Functional Research in China (2
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The final,and most intractable problem is to some extent a consequence of the points listed above: even for the human analyst it is not always possible to arrive at a definitive decision on what relation is being construed.To take a relatively simple example,in (9) the speaker is talking about a flamenco dancer and his group:
(9) They were amazing 
I mean the audience used to go mad as soon as he came on and dipped just the slightest movement 
Here the clause complex in the second line can be interpreted as the speaker justifying the evaluation amazing" in the first (an interpersonal causal relation,which could be signalled by because),or as spelling out in what way the group were amazing (a textual relation of specification,which could be signalled by i.e.).The discourse marker I mean is an indicator which is associated with both these relations (Brinton 2007),so it cannot be used as a criterion for deciding between the two possibilities.Language users have no problems with such indeterminacy and,it can be assumed,do not feel the need to choose one of the possible readings as the "correct" one: it is only a problem for the analyst (cf.Coates's classic 1983 study of indeterminacy in modal verbs).It is a design feature of language: without it,language would not be flexible enough to cope with the demands that users make of it; nor would it have the capacity to evolve.This will always be problematic for any approach which relies heavily on quantitative results,where assignment of cases to relatively clear-cut categories makes life bearably simpler for the analyst.Perhaps,as the software becomes more sophisticated,it will be able to handle indeterminacy,and to flag up such instances as worth investigating precisely for their indeterminate status.In any case,one should try to resist the natural temptation to force features into distinct but distorting analytical boxes. 
3.2.1 The case of because 
In order to illustrate the problems,and to map out some of the directions that might be worth exploring in an attempt to overcome these problems,I will concentrate on one complex area of conjunction,causation (a sub-type within the broader expansion category of consequence).This area has been the focus of a good deal of research,and it has been shown that it covers a number of different types of relations,including what Sweetser (1990: 77) refers to as cause in the content,epistemic and speech act domains
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Annual Review of Functional Linguistics Vol 4