Negotiating Social Relations: A Systemic Functional Perspective

Negotiating Social Relations - Tenor Resources in English - Yaegan Doran

Yaegan Doran [+-]
University of Sydney
Yaegan Doran is a Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Research Fellow in the LCT Centre for Knowledge-Building at the University of Sydney. His research focuses on language, semiosis, knowledge and education from the perspectives of Systemic Functional Linguistics and Legitimation Code Theory, spanning the interdisciplinary fields of educational linguistics, multimodality, and language and identity.
J.R. Martin [+-]
University of Sydney
J R Martin is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His research interests include systemic theory, functional grammar, discourse semantics, register, genre, multimodality and critical discourse analysis, focussing on English and Tagalog - with special reference to the transdisciplinary fields of educational linguistics and social semiotics.
Michele Zappavigna [+-]
University of New South Wales
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Michele Zappavigna is a Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. As a linguist, her primary focus is on exploring the language of microblogging and social media. Her research in this area investigates discursive patterns in social media texts and corpora.


This book is concerned with how we build and negotiate our social relations. From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), the key concept for analysing this is called tenor. This chapter introduces tenor as a means of understanding register variation and considers fundamental work in SFL that has expanded our understandings of tenor – such as approaches that focus on classifying different social relations and approaches that consider tenor as a set of parameters for describing the relative status and contact between people. To complement these approaches, this chapter introduces a new view of tenor as a set of resources for negotiating social relations. This view of tenor builds on recent developments in our understanding of context which also consider other register variables as resources: i.e., field as a resource for construing phenomena and mode as a resource for organising information. This shift in perspective is presented as a means of establishing a clearer link between tenor and the interpersonal metafunction in language, so that our understanding of contextual meaning can be fundamentally linked to our understanding of meaning making through language. The chapter concludes by presenting an overview of the set of resources introduced in this book – those of POSITIONING (for putting forward and reacting to meanings); those of ORIENTING (for arranging meanings into interconnected constellations of feelings and values); and those of TUNING (for adjusting meanings in terms of their scope, their stakes and the spirit in which they are meant). Throughout this book we show that these resources work across dialogue and monologue, that they are fundamental to realising different genres, and that they bring together language with other semiotic resources from paralinguistic body language and emoji.

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Doran, Yaegan; Martin, J.R. ; Zappavigna, Michele. Negotiating Social Relations: A Systemic Functional Perspective. Negotiating Social Relations - Tenor Resources in English. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jun 2025. ISBN 9781800505957. Date accessed: 22 Jun 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.41293. Jun 2025

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