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Do patterns of ellipsis in text support systemic functional linguistics' 'context-metafunction hook-up' hypothesis? A corpus based approach

Clarke, Benjamin Peter 2012. Do patterns of ellipsis in text support systemic functional linguistics' 'context-metafunction hook-up' hypothesis? A corpus based approach. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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In this thesis, systemic functional linguistics’ long-assumed ‘context-metafunction hook-up’ hypothesis is subjected to its first large-scale, data-driven exploration. The claims embodied in the ‘context-metafunction hook-up’ hypothesis (henceforth CMHH) concern the relationship between language and context. Viewed as a set of relationships modelled with systemic primacy, linguistic phenomena group into three metafunctional sorts according to systemic functional linguists. The CMHH claims that these three metafunctional groupings correspond to three parameters of semiotic context such that they share a realisational relationship. The CMHH is one of the assumed strengths of the theory of systemic functional linguistics (henceforth SFL). Yet, despite its centrality to wider SFL research, ventures to test it on large-scale with naturally occurring language data are notable by their absence in SFL work. This project takes a step in the direction of filling the aforementioned void. Adopting Martin’s model of the contextual mode parameter as a starting point, the project proceeds on the assumption that if SFL’s CMHH is predictively sound, variation in ‘mode of discourse’ should correlate with variation in the occurrence of ellipsis in text. Assembling four different sub-corpora of natural language data varied in their contextual mode values following Martin – but otherwise in contextual identity – cases of ellipsis are coded along several variables. Statistical calculations are conducted on the results of this analysis. These calculations allow for detailed cross corpora comparisons which in turn allow for conclusions relative to the central research question to be drawn. The results suggest support for the CMHH at a broad level of generality. The most significant results in this regard are: (i) ellipsis is found to be more frequent the more ancillary a text’s context is; and (ii) the more ancillary a text’s context, the greater proportion of its instances of ellipsis are of the situational, rather than textual, type.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:03

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