Systemic Functional Theory: A Pickax of Textual Investigation

Taofeek Dalamu


The study examines Systemic Functional Theory (SFT) as a tool of examining text, and perhaps, text of any dimension as long as it falls within the grammatical organs of the clause. The author provides explanations for the theory from its relevant source(s). The chronological appreciation involves the efforts of Saussure, Firth, Malinowski, Hjelmslev, etc. However, Halliday’s insight seems prominent and upon which Systemic Functional Theory receives a global status that it has assumed today. Halliday constructs numerous concepts e.g. lexicogrammar, processes, cohesion, coherence, system, system network with background from traditional grammar and sociological tokens. In addition to that, the three metafunctions are characterized as its core operational concepts. Out of these, the mood system serves as the instrument of analysis of Psalm one utilized in this endeavor as a case study. Although the clauses fall within the profile of the indicative and imperative, the study reveals that some of the structures are inverted in order to propagate the intended messages. To that end, there are inverted indicative clauses expressed as inverted declarative statements, inverted imperative questions and inverted negativized polarity. In sum, Systemic Functional Theory is a facility for explaining different shapes of texts.  


Clause, Mood system, Systemic Functional Theory, Text, Three Metafunctions

Full Text:



Akere, F. (1990). English across disciplines: A use of English course Text. Ikeja, Lagos: Punmark Educational Limited.

De Beaugrande R. (1991). Linguistic theory: The discourse of fundamental works. London andNew York: Longman

Bloor, T. and Bloor, M. (2004). The functional analysis of English. Great Britain: Hodder Arnold.

Daramola, A. (2008). A child of necessity: A analysis of political discourse in Nigeria. Pragmatics: Quarterly Publication of The International Pragmatics Association. 18(3),355-360.

Davidse, K. (1992). Transitivity/ergativity: the janus-headed grammar of actions and events. Advances in systemic linguistics: Recent theory and practice. London: Pinter Publisher, 105 – 129.

Egbe, D. I. (1996a). Mastering English usage and communication skills. Lagos: Tisons Limited.

--- (1996b). Excellence in written and spoken English. Lagos: Longman Group.

Eggins, S. 92004). Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Continuum.

Fawcett, Robin P. (2000). A theory for Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: John Benjamins.

Firth J. R. (1957). Papers in linguistics 1934-1951. London: Oxford University Press

Halliday M.A.K. (1985a). Systemic background. Systemic perspectives in discourse, 1. Selected Theoretical papers from 9th Interactional Systemic Workshop. Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Corporation.

- - - (1985b). An ntroduction to Functional Grammar. Great Britain: Arnold. 1985. Print.

- - - & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. Edinburgh: Pearson.

- - - (1985). Language, context, and text: Aspects of language in a socio-semiotic perspective. Geelong: Deakin University Press.

- - - (1992). How do you mean? Advances in systemic linguistic: Recent theory and practice. London: Pinter Publisher. (1992): 20 – 36. Print.

- - - & Matthiessen M. I. M. Christian (1992). Construing experience through meaning: A language based approach to cognition. London: Cassell Academic. 1999. Print.

- - - (2004). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. Great Britain: Hodder Arnold.

Hudson, Richard A. 1996. Sociolinguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kress, G. (1981). Halliday: system and function in language. London: Oxford University Press.

Lemke, J. L. (1995). Textual politics: Discourse and social dynamics. Oxon: Taylor & Francis.

Malmkjaer, K. (ed.) (2004). The linguistics encydopedia. London: Routledge.

Martin, J. R. (1992). English text: Structure and system. Philadephia: John Benjamins.

- - - & Rose D. (2005). Working with discourse: Meaning beyond the clause. New York: Continuum.

Mcgregor W. (1992). The place of circumstantial in Systemic-Functional Grammar. Advances in systemic linguistics: Recent theory and practice. London: Pinter Publisher, 136-145.

Matthiessen, C. (1992). Interpreting the textual metafunction. Advances in systemic linguistics, recent theory and practice. London: Pinter Publisher, 37 - 80.

Ravelli L. (2000). Getting started with functional analysis of texts. Researching language in schools and communities. London: Cassel, l, 27 - 63.

Schiffrin, D., Tannen, D., & Hamilton, H. E. (eds.) (2002). The handbook of discourse analysis. New York: Blaclwell Publishing.

Trask, R. L. and Stockwell, P. (2008). Language and linguistics: The key concepts. New York: Routledge.

Thompson, G. (2004). Introducing Functional Grammar. Great Britain: Hodder Arnold.

Unworth, L. & Frances C. (2000). Developing socially responsible language research. Researching language in schools and communities. London: Cassell , 1- 26..

Yule, G. (1985). The study of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.