47th International Systemic Functional Pre-Congress Institute (PCI47)

Speakers and  Workshops

(In Alphabetic Order of Family Names)




 EFL Languages University, India


Intonation in the Grammar of English

The main aim of this course is to help participants appreciate the various contrasts in English intonation that are exploited in the grammar of the language in order to make distinctions in meaning.  In order to achieve this, we will be working with a trinocular perspective of language, to see how the choices in intonation construe choices in lexicogrammar and semantics.  

The goal is to introduce all strata of systemic functional analysis (context, semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology and phonetics) with particular emphasis on the lower end of the realization chain: choices in the English TONE system (phonological stratum) realizing choices in the system of MOOD (lexicogrammatical stratum), and the choices in the systems of SPEECH FUNCTION and KEY (semantic stratum).  For instance, when a speaker realizes the declarative ‘I am a teacher’ with a falling tone (tone 1) // I am a /TEAcher //, then he is construing the neutral meaning of a statement.  On the other hand, if he uses a rising tone (tone 2), then he is still making a choice of a declarative mood, but construing a marked meaning of a question.  Further, one can also study the attitudinal meanings indicated by the speaker by examining the secondary tones used, for instance, whether tone 1 (for the same example) is realized with a wide (tone 1+), or a neutral (tone 1.), or a low (tone 1-) fall.  Here, the speaker is making a choice from a delicate system of tone 1, to construe either a neutral meaning of ‘certainty’ (tone 1.), or a stronger ‘emphatic’ meaning (tone 1+), or a mild ‘disinterested/uninvolved’ meaning (tone 1-).  

The format of the course will be lectures plus practice by examining spoken texts using PRAAT, followed by application to research.

Session 1: “Interpretation of sound” and “The linguistic environment of intonation”.

Session 2: “Intonation and meaning”: a demonstration of how sound makes meaning in different spoken texts.

Session 3: “The secondary tones and their meanings”, followed by a discussion on “How to bring intonation into your own work”.

 Please bring your laptop and headphones.  Also, remember to download the PRAAT software (www.praat.org) onto your laptops before the course begins.



Halliday, M. A. K. (1967).  Intonation and Grammar in British English.  The Hague:  Mouton.

Halliday, M. A. K . (1970).  A Course in Spoken English:  Intonation.  London:  Oxford University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Greaves, WS. (2008).  Intonation in the Grammar of English, London: Equinox.  


DAY 1: (14:30 – 17:00 hrs)

“The interpretation of sound” and “The linguistic environment of intonation”

You will be first introduced to the system network of English intonation:  the TONALITY system – the chunking of information, the TONICITY system – the focus of information, and the TONE system – the primary tones.  In this session, you will also be introduced to PRAAT and learn to identify tone groups, tonic syllables and tones in some spoken dialogues.  Later, we will discuss the choices in the systems of TONALITY and TONICITY, and the textual function of these choices.    


DAY 2: (14:30 – 17:00 hrs)

“Intonation and meaning”: a detailed demonstration of how sound makes meaning in different spoken texts

In this session, we will study spoken dialogues with reference to the interpersonal function of the Primary tones:  how the choices in the Primary TONE system construe the choices in the system of MOOD in the lexicogrammatical stratum, and the choices in the system of SPEECH FUNCTION in the semantic stratum. We will discuss both the neutral and marked meanings realized by the Primary tones within the context of some selected spoken texts.


DAY 3: (14:30 – 17:00 hrs)

“The secondary tones and their meanings” and “How to bring intonation into your research”

This session will be devoted to studying the choices in the tonic secondary tones and the pretonic secondary tones.  Later, we will examine the interpersonal function of these secondary tones with reference to the system of KEY for expressing attitudes/emotions.  We will also address the question of bringing intonation into your respective research work.


Keywords:  Intonation; Trinocular perspective; Textual function; Interpersonal function; System; Primary tones; Secondary tones; KEY; neutral; marked


Meena Debashish is an Associate Professor in the Department of Phonetics & Spoken English at The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India.  The broad field of her research interest includes the interrelations of phonetics, intonation, grammar, and discourse.  She has specialized in the study of speech sound, including the Indian varieties of English, and has researched and taught over many years on the intonation of English. She has worked as a research assistant (2002 – 2005, based in India) to Prof. William Greaves and Prof. Jim Benson (Glendon University, Canada) on the Bonobo-Human Research Project and the Forgiveness Project.




University of Sydney & Australian Catholic University, Australia


The Language of Science

In this course, we will explore the language of science and how it organises its highly uncommon sense knowledge. Scientific language has been explored since the earliest days of Systemic Functional Linguistics with research continuing to expand to this day. A key feature of this research is its wide-ranging view, encompassing multiple perspectives on scientific meaning-making. This course will focus on scientific discourse from three key perspectives in SFL. First, we will explore the key linguistic features of scientific language in terms of ideational grammatical metaphor and technicality. This will enable a window into seeing how scientific language works in terms of both lexicogrammar and (discourse) semantics. Second, we will explore scientific language in terms of the particular register patterns that occur – focusing in particular on its organisation through field – as well as the typical genres that are found in science. Finally, we will look at scientific discourse multimodality, considering the way science uses its range of images, diagrams, symbols and formalisms to construe its knowledge. For each of these perspectives, we will be concerned with how science manages to construe uncommon sense knowledge that allows it to explain, describe and predict the outside world. At the end of the course, you will have a cutting-edge knowledge of scientific language and discourse, and a range of analytical tools for tackling complex scientific texts.


Day 1 Abstract

On this first day, we will focus on certain key lexicogrammatical and (discourse) semantic features of scientific discourse. In particular we will explore the role of ideational grammatical metaphor in packaging meaning in texts. This will involve stepping through both how experiential metaphors are built in the text (such as through nominalisation), and how they can be connected through logical metaphors. We will compare this to another key feature of scientific language, technicality, and the different ways that these linguistic resources are built. Throughout this session, we will explore these features from the perspective of both lexicogrammar (Halliday and Matthiessen 2014) and (discourse) semantics (using Hao’s 2020 model, which builds upon Halliday and Matthiessen 1999), as well as how they work to build text (drawing on Halliday 2004, Halliday and Martin 1993, Martin and Veel 1998; Maton, Martin and Doran 2021).


Day 2 Abstract

On the second day, we will re-examine scientific language from the perspective of context. In particular, we will look at the registers and genres of science and the role they play in building knowledge (we will explore this using the stratified model of context given in Martin and Rose 2008). As far as genre is concerned, we will focus on how different families of genres – explanations, reports and procedures – perform different functions, drawing on the key accounts given in Martin and Rose 2008 and Rose et al. 1992. As far as register is concerned, we will explore how these different genres organise different parameters of field – activities that organise the dynamic unfolding of events, taxonomies that present relations between items, properties that can be graded and arrayed, and interdependency relations between them all (drawing on the model of field in Doran and Martin 2021). Throughout, we will link each of these register and genre patterns with the (discourse) semantic and lexicogrammatical perspectives introduced on Day 1.


Day 3 Abstract

On the final day, we will complement our linguistic perspective by looking at the multimodal discourse of science. We will focus in particular on the role of images and symbolic formalisms such as mathematics and various chemical formulas and equations. We will see that these are crucial components of scientific discourse, and ones that students must master in order to be successful in science. We will consider why these images and symbolisms are used in science, how they organise their meanings and how this complements scientific language (drawing on O’Halloran 2005, Doran 2018, Kress and van Leeuwen 2021, Yu 2021, and ongoing work by J. R. Martin and Len Unsworth on images).



Doran, Y. J. (2018) The Discourse of Physics: Building Knowledge through Language, Mathematics and Images. London: Routledge.

Doran, Y. J. and Martin, J. R. (2021) Field relations: Understanding scientific explanations. In K. Maton, J. R. Martin and Y. J. Doran (eds) Studying Science: Language, Knowledge, Pedagogy. London: Routledge.

Halliday, M. A. K. (2004) The Language of Science. Volume 5 in the Collected Works of M. A. K. Halliday. Edited by Jonathan J. Webster. London: Continuum.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Martin, J. R. (1993) Writing Science: Literacy and Discursive Power. London: Farmer.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (1999) Construing Experience through Meaning: A Language-Based Approach to Cognition. London: Continuum.

Halliday, M. A. K. and Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. (2014) Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Routledge.

Hao, J. (2020) Analysing Scientific Discourse from a Systemic Functional Linguistic Perspective: A Framework for Exploring Knowledge-Building in Biology. London: Routledge.

Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (2021) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. 3rd Ed. London: Routledge.

Martin, J. R. and Rose, D. (2008) Genre Relations: Mapping Culture. London: Continuum.

Martin, J. R. and Veel, R. (1998) Reading Science: Critical and Functional Perspectives on Discourse of Science. London: Routledge.

Maton, K., Martin, J. R. and Doran, Y. J. (2021) Teaching Science: Knowledge, Language, Pedagogy. London: Routledge.

O’Halloran, K. L. (2005) Mathematical Discourse: Language, symbolism and visual images. London: Continuum.

Rose, D., McInnes, D. and Korner, H. (1992) Scientific Literacy (Literacy in Industry Research Report: Stage 1). Sydney: Metropolitan East Disadvantaged Schools Program.

Yu, Z. (2021) Knowledge-Building of Chemistry in Secondary School Chemistry Textbooks: A Multisemiotic Perspective. Unpublished PhD Thesis. Tongji University, China.


Y. J. Doran is a Research Fellow at The University of Sydney and from 2022 will be Senior Lecturer in Education at the Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on language, semiosis and education from the perspectives of Systemic Functional Linguistics and Legitimation Code Theory. His research has developed grammatical, discourse semantic, register and genre-based descriptions of mathematics, language (focusing on English and Sundanese), images and academic formalisms, as well as fine-grained analytical tools for understanding variations in knowledge practices. His most recent books include The Discourse of Physics (2018, Routledge) and the edited collections Teaching Science (2021, with Karl Maton and J. R. Martin, Routledge), Systemic Functional Language Description (2020, with J. R. Martin and Giacomo Figueredo) and Accessing Academic Discourse (2020, with J. R. Martin and Karl Maton).




Independent Scholar, Australia


Language as sign system:the materiality and sociality of human language

     Halliday's seminal 1978 publication Language as Social Semiotic follows Saussure and Hjelmslev in regarding the semiotic nature of language as one of its key defining characteristics, and this viewpoint has provided one of the jumping-off points for the explosion of interest in multimodality in subsequent decades. However it could be argued that in this shift of focus to other semiotic systems around language, it is visual systems that have received the most attention, and for the most part in the context of their co-presence with language. In the process not only have other semiotic systems failed to be theorised in terms of their own affordances and meanings, being seen more as auxiliary to language, language has been unproblematically regarded as the interpretative grounding to these other systems, and the specific semiotic character of language itself has been rather neglected. In this workshop we will explore language as a semiotic system from the dual perspective of its material affordances, in its primary form of the human voice, and its social embeddedness, as a system that both reflects and construes the material and social worlds of its speakers. As a way of contextualising both the materiality and sociality of language, we will make a systematic comparison of language with music, as a system which semioticises the fundamental features of human embodiment in interestingly different ways, and whose meanings, while highly compatible with those of language, approach their common material and social worlds from quite distinct perspectives.


Day 1, 21 July

The singer’s text: accounting for an embodied, multimodal, performative semiotic system

The humble song, a feature of human cultures worldwide, is in fact a highly complex semiotic object, drawing on the two key semiotic systems that exploit the affordances of the human voice – language and music – as well as other embodied systems that operate alongside them, such as gesture, gaze, and dance. How might we as analysts account for this multimodal text in ways that give full theoretical due to the separate semiotic systems involved, as well as to their combination in performance? In this first session of the workshop we will address the affordances of the human voice as a semiotic medium, and explore its materiality on the expression plane, as well as its sociality on the interpretation plane. Drawing on the semiotic model of the human voice put forward by David Burrows (1990), which stresses “the unique capacity of vocal sound for rapidity of articulation in detachment from the world of enduring spatial objects”, we will attempt to account for the range of meanings expressed in a single song: the Irish folk song She moved through the fair. From the ballad genre of the verbal text, one whose plot incorporates significant “absences” and hence challenges for interpretation, to the simple ternary form of the musical text, balanced between the two tonal poles of “tonic” and “dominant”, we will see how the resources of the two semiotic systems are drawn upon, and how their meanings both reinforce and undercut each other.


Keywords: interpretation, expression, voice, materiality, sociality


Day 2, 22 July

The analyst’s framework: the nature of embodiment and meaning in language and music

Drawing on our preliminary understanding of the semiotic affordances of the human voice gained in the first day’s session, we will move on to theorise more explicitly and systematically the organisation of the semiotic system of language in contrast with that of music. We will see how, although both systems semioticise the fundamental embodied affordances of breath, pulse and pitch, they do so in interestingly different ways. Stratificationally, music, similar to human protolanguage, is a classic example of a bistratal system of interpretation and expression – here tentatively labelled “e/motion” and “phonotactics” – while language features a third stratum, whereby the interpretation plane is split into meaning or “semantics” and wording or “lexicogrammar”.  This goes together with the presence in language of a “line of arbitariness” between this double interpretation plane and the expression plane of sound or “phonology”, while music features no such “arbitrary” relation between meaning and sound. This suggests that while language, in order to function as a model of the human world, must be “set apart” from that world, music, by contrast “recreates” the processual nature of our experience as embodied beings, and this is one of the key differences in the kinds of meanings each system most naturally expresses. Since for the analyst, the first step is normally to “reduce” the multimodal text of speech or music to a monomodal written version, we will also consider the nature of “notation” in the broad sense, with the key insight here from musicology being that all such notation is only ever partial, with just enough information provided for a fluent user to recreate a “text” in “performance”, something which needs to be informed by familiarity with a particular performative tradition. Hence, far from the written form being an autonomous realisation of linguistic meanings, although as a visual text it does of course have distinct affordances not open to spoken texts, it depends on the prior existence of spoken performances which have become embedded in memory. We will examine some simple examples of musical notation and written text, and see what kinds of musical or linguistic features tend to be “notated” in each case and which are left to be supplied by the “performer”.


Keywords: stratification, line of arbitariness, embodiment, performance, notation


Day 3, 23 July

Language and music as performative semiotics ~ system(s) and text

Comparing language and music as instances of systems which semioticise the human voice has a number of theoretical and practical benefits. On the one hand, it enables us to focus more specifically on the key features of human language from the viewpoint of both interpretation and expression, this being particularly significant because of the presence in many cultures of a whole other set of natural languages which exploit a quite different medium, the visual-gestural one, i.e., sign languages. On the other hand, it also “dethrones” language from what tends to be its unquestioned position as the “pattern” for all semiotic systems, a status which Saussure for one was wary of awarding it. But it also allows us to concentrate on a feature which often gets lost in linguistic analyses, depending so much as they do on “reducing” the multimodal linguistic text to a largely monomodal written form: that is, the performativity of both language  and music. Although the history of musicology also shows tendencies to reduce the musical text to its notated version, it is much harder to argue away the fact of music’s performance in accounting for its semiotic power. In this final session we will examine a simplified version of what might be regarded as the multimodal text par excellence in the Western tradition: opera. Through a pared-down performance of part of the penultimate scene of Mozart & da Ponte’s opera Don Giovanni, the presenter will dramatise the “singer’s text” as a multimodal, multisemiotic, embodied performative text, and invite participants to reflect on not only the separate and joint contribution of the systems of language and music to that text, but on the simultaneous presence of many other semiotic modes which are crucial to the overall coherence of the performance.


Keywords: performativity, multimodality, notation, system, text

      Edward McDonald  gained his BA(Hons) from the University of Sydney in 1988, his MA from Peking University in 1992, and his PhD from Macquarie University in 1999, with theses on the clause and verbal group grammar of modern Chinese. Between 1999 and 2017 he taught linguistics, Chinese language, translation, semiotics, and music at National University of Singapore, Tsinghua University Beijing, University of Auckland, University of New South Wales, and Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou. His recent research interests include the application of systemic functional theory to a range of languages including modern Chinese and Scottish Gaelic (Meaningful Arrangement: exploring the syntactic description of texts, Equinox 2008); Chinese language teaching and the concept of "sinophone" (Learning Chinese, Turning Chinese: challenges to becoming sinophone in a globalised world, Routledge 2011); and European and Chinese traditions of language scholarship (Grammar West to East: The investigation of linguistic meaning in European and Chinese traditions, Springer 2020). He has published widely in Chinese linguistics, graphology, grammatics, and musical semiotics in journals including Language, Context and Text, Translation and Interpreting Studies, Chinese Language and Discourse, Journal of World Literature, Social Semiotics, Language and Communication, and Linguistics and the Human Sciences.



MICK O’Donnell

 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain


Introduction to Corpus-based Discourse Analysis for SFL

Our discourses are not randomly produced. Every utterance we make, every sentence we write, represents a set of linguistic choices as to what we are expressing and how we express it. These choices are not made only in relation to the experience we are at the moment expressing, but also reflect who we are, the immediate situation we are in, and the cultural background we are from.

Discourse Analysis often focuses on the single text, exploring how the text relates to its context of situation and context of culture. Critical Discourse Analysis might explore how the text maintains or challenges the current power relations of its society.

Corpus-based Discourse Analysis (CBDA) moves beyond the single text. It stems from a dissatisfaction in the reaching of ad-hoc conclusions from single examples. CBDA prefers to reach conclusions based on patterns over large numbers of texts. It focuses on systematic correlations between linguistic choices and the individual, situational, or cultural context in which the texts are produced.

These three workshops will introduce the participants to the practice of using a corpus of texts to reveal deeper patterns in text. It will move from the exploration of more surface items over very large corpora (online concordancing), and move to the exploration of automatically produced functional analyses in smaller corpora (Transitivity, Mood and Theme). As even deeper aspects of language cannot be automated as yet, it will also explore the use of manual annotation of more semantic aspects to reveal patterns in smaller corpora.


Keywords: Corpus Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Systemic Functional Grammar, Contrastive Linguistics,


Session 1: Introduction to Corpus-based Discourse Analysis

This workshop will introduce the practice of using a corpus of texts as the basis of discourse analysis, basing findings on patterns over large amounts of text, rather than on patterns found in a single text.

I will start by demonstrating how large online corpora (over 100 million words) can be used to establish patterns of lexical usage, or in some cases, grammatical usage. I will focus here firstly on changing lexical usage over time, and secondly, with grammatical differences over register/genre.

I will then introduce UAM Corpustool, software which allows you to build your own (smaller) corpora, for studies of particular registers/genres, at more functional levels of analysis. I will briefly show how to set up a project, how to assign register/genre features to each text, and then how to contrast them for various features of the text.

I will then demonstrate how the texts can be automatically annotated for Mood, Transitivity Theme, and Modality, and then how one can contrastively show registerial differences in these analyses.


Session 2: Automatic Analysis in UAM Corpustool

This session will be a workshop. Attendees need to bring a laptop. Participants will be provided with a small corpus of texts, and led through the process of introducing these to the corpus software, annotating the register and genre of the texts, and automatically annotating the texts for Transitivity, Mood and Theme. Participants will then be shown how to contrastively reveal the lexico-grammatical differences between registers/genres.


Session 3: Manual Analysis in UAM Corpustool

This session will also be a workshop. The more interesting aspects of language cannot be annotated by computers (yet!). This workshop will lead participants through the process of manually annotating a corpus of texts, so that patterns in deeper meanings can be revealed. For the workshop, we will explore patterns of evaluation (e.g., Appraisal Analysis) used by politicians, hopefully to reveal their underlying system of values.


Requirements: Students should bring their own laptop to the sessions. Chrome should be installed, and used in the sessions.


Mick O’Donnell is a Lecturer at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. He is best known for his application of SFL in the areas of computational linguistics and corpus linguistics. He has been developing corpus annotation software for the last twenty-five years, including Systemic Coder, RSTTool and UAM Corpustool, all of which have been widely used. He initially worked in areas related to automatic text generation, syntactic parsing and dialogue systems, however since 2009, he has been focused more on exploring the EFL learning process via corpus analysis of learner writing. This includes both discovering critical learner gaps via error analysis, and also exploring what learners can do via automatic lexico-grammatical analysis. His research group are currently developing an online system for targeted individualized grammar learning.