System and Corpus - Exploring Connections - Geoff Thompson †

System and Corpus - Exploring Connections - Geoff Thompson †

Frequency profiles of some basic grammatical systems: an interim report

System and Corpus - Exploring Connections - Geoff Thompson †

Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen [+-]
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Christian Matthiessen is Chair Professor and Head of Department of English at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. He is the editor and author of a number of books, most recently Introduction to Functional Grammar (co-authored with Michael Halliday, Hodder Arnold 2004), Construing Experience Through Meaning (co-authored with Michael Halliday, et. al., Continuum 2006), Key Terms in Systemic Functional Linguistics (co-authored with Kazuhiro Teruya & Marvin Lam, 2010).


In this paper, I will give an interim report on a long-term project to establish the probability profiles of the key systems of the lexicogrammar of English (see Matthiessen 1995a) – systems such as taxis, logicosemantic type (clause complexes), theme, voice, mood, polarity and transitivity (clause). These profiles are based on the manual analysis of a reasonably extensive archive of texts (cf. Matthiessen 1999; Matthiessen 2002). This manual analysis and the profiles are developed by means of a workbench for doing systemic functional research developed by us in Sydney, with Wu Canzhong as the chief developer (cf. Wu 2000). At this stage, the analysis still has to be manual – the automatic analysis of large volumes of text from a varied range of registers is beyond the current reach of the systems (cf. O’Donnell 1994; Matthiessen, O’Donnell and Zeng 1991). However, certain specific aspects of certain systems can be investigated by means of automatable pattern searches in corpora. I will begin by addressing central theoretical and methodological issues (Section 2). I will then explore the quantitative patterns of the intersections of a number of systems of the clause complex and clause (Section 3), and finally I will investigate the relationship between quantitative patterns and qualitative ones (Section 4). In discussing these issues, I will also take the opportunity to illustrate some of the varied range of formats in which the data can be presented.

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Matthiessen, Christian. Frequency profiles of some basic grammatical systems: an interim report. System and Corpus - Exploring Connections. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 103 - 142 Mar 2006. ISBN 9781845532512. Date accessed: 19 Jul 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.19145. Mar 2006

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