Halliday’s Functional Grammar essay

It is a grammar representation developed by Michael Halliday, which is the most well acknowledged element of a broad social semiotic (study of signs and symbols) approach to language developed in 1960s. Systematic functional grammar is a most important linguistic theory, which has acknowledged special attention from researchers operational in natural language generation. It was developed at the University of London by Michael Halliday, as a continuation of the work of his predecessors.

It is an identity specified to any range of functionally based approaches to the scientific study of language. In a functional pattern a language is in the first place conceptualized as a device of social interaction amongst human beings, used with the objective of establishing communicative associations. Systematic functional grammar is apprehensive above all with the choices that are made accessible to speakers of a language by their grammatical systems.

These choices are assumed to be significant and relate speaker’s intentions to the concrete forms of language. In systematic functional grammar meanings are separated into three broad areas called metafunctions: the ideational, the interpersonal and the textual. The ideational is a grammar for symbolizing the world, the interpersonal is a grammar for enacting social relationships, and the textual is grammar for binding linguistic fundamentals collectively into broader texts.

The central philosophy of functional grammar is that language is a source for making money. This theory is a means for understanding how language works, and for analyzing language in use. According to this theory language is a semiotic system ( a system of meaning), not only a system of meaning but it embodies all human experience and relations, it is the system in which it is possible to talk about the others and the system that evolved as a semiotic system and nothing else.

Language is also semogenic and has three metafunctions which are, ideational, interpersonal and textual. The ideational metafunction is concerned with ideation. Grammatical resources for construing our understanding of the world around us and inside us. One of its chief grammatical systems is transitivity. The interpersonal metafunction deals with the interaction among speaker and addressee. The grammatical resources for enacting social roles in common, and speech roles in particular, in dialogic interaction.

The textual metafunction is concerned with the creation of text. With the presentation of ideational and interpersonal meanings as information that can be shared by speaker and listener in text unfolding in context. One of the major textual systems is theme, the resource for situating up a local context for a clause by selecting a local point of departure in the current of information. Starting with easy procedures for identifying the choices in a particular system, it discusses the purpose of the system in context.

This involves analyzing what it means to make one choice from the system rather than another – e. g. what choices are open to a speaker in the Mood system of the section (declarative, interrogative, imperative), and why a speaker might prefer to ask a question (using an interrogative form) rather than formulate a statement (using a declarative form). This theory examines how each system works in the construction of clauses – the basic units for conveying meanings – and how the meanings in clauses contribute to the overall meaning of a text.

Systematic functional grammar divides the task of grammatical analysis, the process of stating the grammatical properties of a text into two parts, analysis of syntactic structures, and analysis of function structures. Due to its prominence on usage, communicative function, and the social context of language, functional grammar differs extensively from other linguistic theories which stress entirely formal approaches to grammar.


1. An Introduction to functional grammar, 3rd Ed. , Michael Halliday and Christian Mathiessen, Oxford University Press, 2004 2. Functional Grammar, S. C. Dik, Foris Pubns USA, June 1978