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PAPERS


David Banks

The Position of Ideology in an SFL Model


The SFL model has traditionally been presented as a series of levels one within the other in Russian doll style. This is usually represented visually as concentric circles or triangles. The outer layer of this model is that of Ideology, within which are found those of Context (culture and/or situation). Comparison of appropriate texts suggests that the relationship of Ideology to the rest of the model may be somewhat different. Texts may have virtually the same Context of situation in terms of Field, Tenor, and Mode, but differ in both their Ideologies and in their semantic and lexicogrammatical features. Comparison of Newton's Opticks and Huygens' Traité de la lumière provides one such example. Political tracts (professions de foi) for French regional elections provide another. This means that it is necessary to reconsider the place of Ideology in the systemic model, including the possibility that it affects the semantic and lexicogrammatical levels independently of the level of context.


María Barrio
Developing the written style features of Spanish pre-university EFL students’ texts:

experiential meaning-making resources and choices

This paper is part of a wider investigation of the oral style features usually found in Spanish pre-university EFL students’ written texts. Although research on spoken and written language reveals that written style is determined by a combination of choices across metafunctions (cf. Barrio 2004; Biber 1988), this paper focuses specifically on the experiential function and its contribution to the creation of prototypical written style through the achievement of high density of information in texts. Firstly, based on previous research and theoretical grounds (e.g. Biber 1988; Halliday 1989; Martin 1992; Matthiessen 2001), the paper describes the linguistic resources and choices that contribute to write a text with a high density of information. Secondly, it proposes a measurement instrument for text analysis which combines the writers’ linguistic choices in relation to the density of information of the text. Thirdly, applying the measurement tool to real corpus analysis, the paper presents the results of an experimental research with Spanish pre-university EFL students, whose texts display more appropriate selections of experiential meaning-making choices for the achievement of higher density of information in the texts after they received a specific pedagogical treatment.


References

Barrio Luis, María. 2004. Experimental study of textual development in Spanish students of English as a Foreign Language in “segundo de bachillerato”: Features of written register in compositions of argumentative genre. Unpublished PhD Dissertation. English Department. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

Biber, Douglas. 1988. Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halliday, M. A. K. 1989. Spoken and Written Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Martin, J. R. 1992. English Text: System and Structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Matthiessen, M. I. M. C. 2001. “Combining clauses into clause complexes: A multi-faceted view”. J. Bybee and M. Nooman (eds.). Complex Sentences in Grammar and Discourse: Essays in honor of Sandra A. Thompson. Amsterdam: Benjamins: 235-319.




Marta Carretero & Asunción Villamil Touriño
Lexical meaning and transitivity: a contrastive study of the REMEMBERING lexical system in English and Spanish
The aim of this presentation is to analyze the verbs belonging to the ‘remembering-forgetting’ lexical system in English and Spanish, covering the levels of lexis and transitivity. Concerning lexis, we will propose two networks, one for each language, in which the verbs will be classified according to a number of semantic features. It will turn out that, even though we all know that psychologically there is a gradation between vivid memory and total lack of memory, most lexical verbs refer straightforwardly to the mental processes of remembering or forgetting, not to intermediate states, which are conveyed by means of other clausal constituents. Concerning transitivity, we will analyze the different patterns allowed by each verb in the two languages, putting emphasis on the different kinds of participants which may fulfil each role (eg. the cases in which the Phenomenon may be either a concrete entity or a situation, or only one of these). After presenting these analyses, we will approach the relation between the levels of lexis and transitivity, by pointing out possible links between lexical and grammatical choices. Finally, we will discuss some implications for the teaching of these types of verbs to Spanish learners of English and vice versa.
References

Cruse, D. A. (1986).Lexical semantics. Cambridge, England: University Press.

Palmer, F.R. (1981) Semantics: A New Outline. (2nd edition) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Halliday, M.A.K. and Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen (1999) Construing experience through meaning : a language-based approach to cognition, London, New York: Cassell, 1999.

Halliday, M.A.K. (2004) An introduction to functional grammar. (Third edition, revised by Christian Matthiessen.)London: Edward Arnold.

Nida, E. (1975) Componential Analysis of Meaning. The Hague: Mouton.

Thibault, P.J. (2001). The delicate grammar of remembering and forgetting. Paper presented at the Second Workshop of the Systemic Functional Research Community on Interpersonal and Ideational Grammar. Catholic University of Leuven.

Tucker, G. (2001). Interpreting collocation: An exploration of collocational patterning in the modelling of cognitive process clauses. Paper presented at the Second Workshop of the Systemic Functional Research Community on Interpersonal and Ideational Grammar. Catholic University of Leuven.




Martin Edwardes

The Ideational Metafunction and Nonhuman Signalling

The difference between human language and nonhuman signalling is qualitative as well as quantitative: language is not just a more complex form of signalling, it has a social dimension that is missing from nonhuman signals. Yet there remains, behind all signalling, a simple semiotic structure that is invariant: a sender produces a message for a receiver about a referent. This is the model that Halliday has expanded to express the metafunctional relationships between speaker and listener in linguistic discourse.

However, if all signalling is based upon the same principles, it should be possible to identify the metafunctions of language that are likely to be continuous with nonhuman signalling and those that are not. This paper examines the four metafunctions, and shows how the interpersonal and textual metafunctions do not have clear analogues in nonhuman signalling, while the ideational metafunctions do.

By studying the signalling strategies used by other animals, particularly other primates, this paper will show that the signalling process itself creates the need for the ideational metafunctions. It will examine the experiential and logical aspects of nonhuman signals, and demonstrate an important continuity between human and nonhuman signalling. Rather than seeing language as an isolate with no predecessors, it will place language back into the spectrum of general signalling.




Jiska Marita Engelbert
Alternative manifestations of the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions in Labour’s post-1997 election broadcasts: A further investigation of multimodal affordances
Televised election broadcasts in the 1997 UK Labour Party campaign marked a radical change in terms of a further investigation of the affordances of multimodal communication; although multimodal communication had already been a common feature in pre-1997 broadcasts, configurations of the discourse type were usually embedded in the so-called ‘talking-head’ format. Labour’s post-1997 election broadcasts reflect the social semiotics of contemporary signifying practices; meaning-making potentials are no longer restricted to the verbal domain. In trying to account for this shift in terms of a further investigation of multimodal affordances, this paper argues that this investigation is reflected in an alternative manifestation of the ideational and interpersonal metafunctions.

This manifestation can be characterised as a process of backgrounding of the source; the role of the anchoring as a strategy of textual closure - allowing for relational sense-making - is no longer realized by the direct visualisation of the source of communication, but is to be inferred out of the nature of the way in which different modes interact with each other and construct a complex multimodal interplay. Backgrounding also allows for a more direct form of relational sense-making. Not only can ‘desired realities’ be represented through the interplay between verbal, visual and auditory modes of communication, the same resources allow for ‘undesired realities’ to independently represent themselves. Contesting realities are thus still able to appear within one and the same message, but the overarching framework of group-specific values and beliefs is less visible.




John Flowerdew

Signalling nouns and their relation to the Hallidayan metafunctions

Signalling nouns are nouns which have cohesive properties across and within clauses. (Flowerdew, 2003a, 2003b). A signalling noun is potentially any abstract noun the meaning of which can only be made specific by reference to its context. Examples of signalling nouns are attitude, assistance, difficulty, endurance, process, reason, result etc. The following is an example of a signalling noun functioning in an inter-clausal manner:




  1. Electricity is used to drive the motor of an electric train, but inevitably some of the energy is lost as heat. This unavoidable fact is of great importance in biology.



  2. While the next example has a signalling noun functioning intra-clausally:



  1. Transpiration is the inevitable result of the necessity for the inside of the leaf to be open to the atmosphere.



  1. In both cases the full meaning of the noun has to be sought out in the cotext, either across clauses or within the clause. Based on a large corpus, this paper will demonstrate how the meaning potential of these nouns operates across the three meta-functions - ideational, interpersonal and textual - with special emphasis on the ideational.

Flowerdew, J. (2003a) Register specificity of signalling nouns in discourse. In C. Meyer and P. Leistyna (Eds.) Corpus analysis: Language structure and language use. Amsterdam: Rodopi Publishers. pp. 35-46. 2003.

Flowerdew, J. (2003b) Signalling nouns in discourse. English for Specific Purposes Journal. 22(4):329-346

Lynne Flowerdew
Working from the APPRAISAL system to experiential meanings in analyzing apprentice and professional writing
This paper describes how the Solution element of the Problem-Solution pattern (Hoey 1983, 2001) in a 250,000-word corpus of recommendation-based reports and a comparable corpus of apprentice reports written by third-year undergraduates, was analysed, working from the APPRAISAL system on the interpersonal level (Martin 2000, 2003; White 2001). The first part of this paper will describe how the Attitude subtype of APPRAISAL was used as a starting point for categorizing keywords signaling the Solution element into Inscribed lexis (lexis that is explicitly evaluative) and Evoking lexis (items which evoke some kind of evaluative response in the reader). The second part of the paper will discuss how differences between the Inscribed and Evoking lexis in the apprentice and professional corpus affected choices realising the experiential function, specifically in the domain of material and relational processes.


Maria Freddi
Representing Scientific Knowledge: an analysis of Darwin’s prose
The proposed paper aims to reassess the issue of the accessibility of techno-scientific discourse to the general reader by reconsidering a scientific classic such as The Origin of Species by C. Darwin.

Drawing from Halliday’s work on scientific language, in general (republished as vol. 5 of the “Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday” series, The Language of Science) and, in particular, from his famous 1993 analysis of the two closing paragraphs of The Origin, the study addresses the following two research questions:


To what extent does scientific jargon gain the lay-reader access to scientific meanings?

How does the flow of argument, that is, the chains of reasoning, characterise the scientific semiosis as it is construed in The Origin?


Such questions are dealt with by Halliday in terms of the relationship between the ideational, i.e. the lexical choices construing technical taxonomies, and the logical, i.e. the progression of the line of argument. The present study takes them up in an attempt to analyse those characteristics of Darwin’s style that make his prose accessible, that is, readable, to show that in such “train of reasoning through immense wealth of evidence” as The Origin has been defined (J.W. Burrow, editor of the Penguin edition), some features are peculiar to the author’s style, while others are common to scientific treatises in general.

Peter H. Fries




Exploring the textual metafunction in problem-solution text segments

Fries 2004 proposed a functional approach to the exploration of the textual metafunction, in which it is suggested that theoretical constructs can be validated by exploring their uses in texts or text segments about which we know a great deal before we encounter them. One such class of text segments consists of those text segments that express meanings that entail matching different portions of the text segment. Problem-solution texts offer one interesting example of a text type that entails such matching. Clearly, a text which describes a problem and then describes a solution cannot randomly combine any problem with any solution. The solution must be seen to solve that particular problem.

Thus, examining the portion of the text which describes the problem should provide us with information to predict which sorts of information are likely to be emphasized in the solution. This paper will report the results of an examination of the uses of the textual metafunction in several problem-solution texts.
Fries, Peter H. 2004. The textual metafunction as a site for a discussion of the goals of linguistics and techniques of linguistic analysis. Plenary paper presented to the thirty-first International Systemic Functional Congress, August 30, 2004, Kyoto, Japan.
Yanjie Gao (Xiían Jiaotong University, China) & Mohsen Ghadessy (Zhongshan University, China)
Processes and Participants in Parallel Texts:

Martin Luther King’s speech in English and Chinese
Translation as a human activity has been with us since people from different cultures came into contact with one another. Translation as an academic discipline, however, has a much shorter time span. One area of study has been to compare and contrast source texts and target texts (parallel texts) in order to establish similarities and differences, i.e. translation equivalence. The purpose of this study is to consider a famous speech by Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ (1963) and its translation into Chinese in order to establish translation equivalence in relation to the Transitivity System by using Halliday’s (1994) Systemic Functional Approach to the analysis of language. Processes and participants in the source text (English) are compared and contrasted with those in the target language (Chinese). It is concluded that SFG provides some powerful tools in the analysis of parallel texts for both translation students and professional translators in the field.

Sheena Gardner & Hilary Nesi

Ideational Meaning in a Corpus of Student Academic Writing

This paper explores two approaches to the comparison of ideational meaning across academic fields.  We will compare MacDonald’s classification of Sentence Subjects into seven sub-classes of Phenomenal and Epistemic (in her study of expert academic writing in Psychology, History and Literature) with Gosden’s model of Subject Role Domains (from his study of research articles from Physics, Chemistry and Biology with IMRD [Introduction – Methods – Results – Discussion] structures). We will consider the potential value of these approaches to our ESRC funded corpus development project, which aims to characterise genres of assessed writing produced by students in different disciplines and at different stages of university study.  In particular, the models will be evaluated for robustness of insights into disciplinary groupings or differences, and the relative merits of conducting analyses of Participants that go beyond Subject roles.


Angela Alameda Hernández
SFL and CDA: The transitivity system in the study of the discursive construction of national identity

(Case study: Gibraltar)
Research in the last decades has illustrated the breadth of utility of applying the categories of systemic-functional linguistics in a broad range of areas. In this line, the present paper analyses SFL’s contributions to discourse studies.

My research adheres to the scholarly paradigm known as critical discourse analysis (CDA). It is based on the view that language, as social practice, is a central element in social life and, hence, it analyses discourse in relation to the social context in which it occurs. CDA is mainly aimed at making certain social situations more transparent based on linguistic evidence. Hence, a functional view of language is particularly useful.

This paper, part of a wider research on the discursive construction of the Gibraltarian identity, focuses on the representation of the Gibraltar issue as drawn from the linguistic analysis of the transitivity system in a body of texts taken from the printed media. Gibraltar is a community in which political conflicts are common but has quite frequently been ignored in the academic world, despite its great interest and uniqueness.

Hence, the application of SFL categories in this critical analysis can shed light on a controversial situation: the Gibraltarian community and its socio-political status.


Caldas-Coulthard, M.R and M. Coulthard (eds) (1996). Texts and Practices: Readings in CDA. London: Routledge.

Fairclough, N (1995). Critical Discourse Analysis: the Critical Study of Language. London: Longman.

Fairclough, N (1995b). Media Discourse. London: Arnold.

Fowler, R., Kress, G., Hodge, R. and T. Trew (1979). Language and Control. London: Routledge.

Kellermann, A (2001). A New, New English. Language, Politics and Identity in Gibraltar. Heidelberg: Heidelberg Schriften zur Sprache und Kultur.

Kramer, J (1986). English and Spanish in Gibraltar. Hamburg: Buske.

Martin, J.R. (2000). “Close reading: functional linguistics as a tool for critical discourse analysis”. In Unsworth, L. (ed). Researching Language in Schools and Communities. Functional Linguistic Perspectives. London: Cassell.

Morris, D and R Haigh (eds) (1992). Britain, Spain and Gibraltar 1945-1990. The Eternal Triangle. London: Routledge.

Oktar, L (2001). “The ideological organization of representational processes in the presentation of us and them”. Discourse and Society 12 (3): 313-346.

Van Dijk, T (1993). “Principles of Critical Discourse Analysis”. Discourse and Society 4 (2): 249-289.

Wodak, R and M Meyer (2001). Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London: Sage Publications.

Wodak, R et al. (1999). The Discursive Construction of National Identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press



Birgit Huemer
Analyzing digital art: modelling experience through multiple modes
“Listening Post” is a multimedia art installation that culls English text fragments in real time from thousands of unrestricted internet chat rooms, bulletin boards and other public forums. The texts are ordered by lexical phrases or key words, read (or sung) by a voice synthesizer, and simultaneously displayed across a suspended grid of more than two hundred small electronic screens. These constructed texts are read by the voice synthesizer in two different ways: First, by a single voice that realizes all text fragments within either mental or relational processes (I like…, I am…); Then, by simultaneously occurring multiple voices that realize text fragments within material clauses, producing a “polyphonic choir” of varying construals of experience. In this paper, I argue that these two different ‘readings’ and ‘visualizations’ of these text fragments realize a contrast and tension between individual, private space, isolation and mass, public space and communication. By using a multimodal approach (Kress, van Leuween; Lemke) to explore how different semiotic modes (e.g. language, image, sound and music) act in concert to model experience, I will show that the ideational metafunction plays a principal role in realizing an individual and mass voice in these texts.


Martin Kaltenbacher

Identification and other processes in web-sites of tourism

Concerning the analysis of intensive identifying processes Geoff Thompson (1996: 91) pointed out that "a Token/Value analysis can be particularly revealing in analysing cultural ideologies of what is being valued in the identification of certain tokens. Essentially the Value reveals what values the writer (and ultimately the culture that s/he is part of) uses to measure the Tokens that s/he deals with." The present paper looks at processes in Scottish, American and Austrian web-sites of tourism and takes a contrastive look at which meanings are highlighted in the different national tourist board web-sites. The paper shall start with a look at intensive identifying processes, which are followed by particularly marked Values containing some kind of Augmentation, as in "Salzburg is the first city in the world in which it is possible to book your complete stay in advance". In a second step the relative proportion of different types of processes and the prevailing choices of participants in tourist texts shall be investigated and related to aspects of national and cultural identity underlying these web-sites.



Li LI

The Grammar of Linguistic Awareness in English and Chinese: Meaning Layers of Transitivity

This paper explores the interactive reaction between the expected elements like the participants and the unexpected elements like the circumstantial roles, assuming that linguistic awareness is the essential variable that determines the behaviour of the expected elements as well as the unexpected ones in English and Chinese but with different orientations. From participants, we reveal features about the circumstantial role in the linguistic awareness that might control the behaviour of participants. Both the linguistic awareness and the circumstantial role condition the orientations of expected elements inwardly and from outside but within system. The significance of the research is three-fold: to provide a means in the prediction of unexpected elements through the meaning of the expected elements, to prepare the necessary condition of meaning output even in case of two different languages with the presumed control variable of linguistic awareness as a parameter, to display the potential layout of the meaning layers of transitivity, while handling the varieties of linguistic awareness in different tongues, exposing more about meaning arrays in the interaction of transitivity proper and men’s mind.



María Martínez Lirola
A Critical Analysis Of The Image Of Immigrants In Multimodal Texts:

Exploring How The Ideational Function Is Created
In this presentation we will explore the main strategies used to make meaning in different multimodal texts related to immigration. The analysis will claim the different ways in which we can observe inappropriate meaning construction in articles related to immigrants. We will pay attention to the way in which each semiotic resource has evolved to be used with other semiotic resources, which has implications in the ideational function of language and in the way readers create meaning.

Our corpus of examples belongs to local newspapers in Alicante, one of the cities with more immigrants in Spain. We will explore the reasons why the journalist chooses some linguistic and visual forms instead of others and the influence of these forms in the creation of meaning. We will also pay attention to the way in which the field and the ideational function are created and the effect that they have on the readers of these articles.

A visual grammar analysis will be used to investigate how readers are positioned. In this way we will point out some of the ways in which the ideational function links with the interpersonal and the textual functions.
Halliday, M.A.K & C.M.I.M Matthiessen (20043) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Hodder Arnold.

Kress, G. (2003) Literacy in the New Media Age. London: Routledge.

Kress, G. & van Leeuven, T. (1996) Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge Press.

O’Halloran K.L. (ed.) (2004) Multimodal Discourse Analysis. Systemic Functional Perspectives. London: Continuum.

Reah, D. (2002) The Language of Newspapers. London: Routledge.
Alison Love
Demonstrate that you understand the difference':

ESL student transitivity choices in a short answer test in Sociology

Students’ ability to make meaning within a newly encountered discipline obviously includes their understanding of technical terms, both their meaning and the distinctions between them. This study explores the ways in which ESL students at the end of their first semester of Sociology responded to a question requiring them to ‘Make brief notes to demonstrate’ their ‘understanding of the difference’ between pairs of related technical Sociological concepts. Taking the answers on the pair ‘deviance and crime’, I shall examine first the transitivity choices made in the students’ definitions of the two terms, focusing on how distinctions between the terms were established in the Value of Relational processes. I shall then examine how a small sample of students, ranging through High, Middle and Low graded answers, chose to expand on the definitions to clarify their interpretation and application of the distinctions between the two terms. Use of Elaboration, Extension and Enhancement of the definitions will be examined, applying these terms to relations between as well as within clause complexes. Attention will be paid to choices which appeared to attract higher grades.


Alison Love



Taking The Viewer Into The Field
The BBC television series ‘Earth Story’ sets out to answer questions about the formation of the Earth and the forces that change it over time. Thus it is concerned with introducing viewers to the ‘Field’ of Geology, one which can seem dry and inaccessible to non-initiates. However, a viewing of the series suggests that this difficulty has been overcome by attempts to draw the viewer into sharing the experience of being a geologist. Three aspects of this are striking: the emphasis on the need to ‘see’ in a particular way ‘in the field’, the sense of mystery and the need to interpret clues, and geologists’ emotional engagement with their field of study. This presentation will examine:
- the verbal commentary of the series, particularly the transitivity choices,

- the visual content, particularly the visual presentation of ‘geological field data’, and also on the cuts between locations in a sequence,

- the part played by the musical soundtrack, especially in establishing intertextual links.
I shall suggest that the series uses the available multimodal resources not only to introduce viewers to geological meaning, but to the experience of geological meaning making.

Arianna Maiorani
Reloading’ movies into commercial reality: a multimodal analysis of representational structures in “The Matrix” trilogy promotional posters
In 1999, the first episode of The Matrix movie trilogy was released: it would mark the beginning of a new trend in science fiction movies and also in the perception of motion pictures as interactive social and commercial events.

The Matrix movies were ‘born’ and released in the internet era, where everybody can actually connect to a virtual, and virtually alternative reality, and is potentially able to do and say things one could or would never be able to do in the real world. These movies, with their use of the internet terminology and devices, addressed in particular the very large public of internet users; for the first time, they brought this virtual world and virtual community on the big screen and turned things upside down: in the first movie, in fact, we find out that what at the beginning seems to be the present-day real world is actually a program where people unconsciously live a virtual life while functioning as energy providers for the artificial intelligences who created it.

Unlike what happens in other science fiction movie trilogies or saga, (i.e. Star Wars, Alien, Terminator, Star Trek) The Matrix movies are set in a present (not future) ‘real’ world which is actually a ‘fiction of science’, rather than a science fiction version of a future reality.

This paper will analyse an aspect of this trilogy promotional campaign (The Matrix, 1999; The Matrix Reloaded, 2003; The Matrix Revolutions, 2003) focussing on the way the interplay between textual and visual semiotics develops through a select corpus of posters. The method of analysis will be based both on the grammar of visual design developed by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996), and on the Hallidayan model of analysis (1985; 1994). Analysis will particularly focus on representational structures (both narrative and conceptual), which, in terms of visual semiotics, realize what Halliday calls the ideational metafunction. Select posters have been divided into six different groups, according to the different typologies of their representational structures: analysis will try to show how these structures are used to create different kinds of promotional messages, which seem to vary for each of the three movies, and actually turn motion pictures into some sort of interactive social events, especially for an audience of ‘fans’ who are well aware of the internet ways and means.

Ana Martín, María Barrio, Laura Hidalgo, Susana Murcia, Karina Vidal, Rachel Whittaker
The expression of experiential meaning in EFL students’ texts:

an analysis of secondary school recounts
This paper is part of a larger project in composition writing in English conducted in three Spanish Secondary Schools with pre-university students (Council of Education, Autonomous Region of Madrid 06/0020/2001; Ministry of Education, National Government: HUM2004-06228). A corpus of 300 compositions written in response to three tasks eliciting three different genres (recount, exposition and report) were collected in five classes. The learning context is that of English as a foreign language, which our subjects take as an obligatory subject. The English language, then, is learnt for communicative purposes, and is not used as a vehicle for learning the disciplines.

We have already studied textual features of the genres and grammatical features of registers in a sample from the corpus, and are now in the process of analysing field in the students’ texts.

In this paper we focus on the recount, looking at how experiential meaning is realised. We present the tool we have designed for this purpose, which was tested on a pilot sample of texts from the different schools at different levels of proficiency, and the results of the analysis of the complete corpus.


Merja de Mattos-Parreira
Meaning-making in the Finnish epic Kalevala: on transitivity
The Finnish epic poem Kalevala (1849) is a written transcription leaning mainly on a collection of ancient narrative songs of the Finnish people. This means that when trying to translate the written Kalevala into another language, the relationship between the content-text and the organization of the texture – that is, the way the particular linguistic realizations fit the goings-on as a whole – shifts from a singer’s memory‑based creative process in front of a live audience to a translator’s reaction in the presence of a written product.

The archaic, song‑like Finnish language behind the written Kalevala is widely acknowledged for its extremely iconic features, a quality that works at all levels of the main ranks of linguistic realizations, whether phonetic, lexical, syntactic or textual. It is my thesis that although this collection of traditional folk songs put into written form only some 150 years ago is often referentially incomprehensible to a contemporary literate urban Finnish reader, it is nevertheless somehow understandable to him (see Note 1). In other words, the general idea of the text is usually captured, even though a present-day Finn may not be able to tell the precise meanings of the words, or to distinguish words referring to actions (processes) from those referring to qualities or states (participants or circumstances). In order to illustrate my viewpoint, I am going to discuss and compare some of the choices made by the translators of the four complete English-language versions of the Kalevala, as far as the transitivity of the source-text is concerned.
Note 1: It is evident that arbitrariness in the case of the Kalevala is also challenged by an extreme social motivation, since this text is omnipresent in Finnish daily culture (i.e., people’s names, toponymies, contemporary cultural products, names of enterprises, food items, the list goes on). Thus the iconicity on the level of language is also naturalized through the processes of everyday social semiotics (see for instance Halliday’s Language as social semiotic, 1978, passim).
Anne McCabe & Christopher Gallagher



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