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Indeterminacy in process type classification

Gwilliams, Laura and Fontaine, Lise ORCID: 2015. Indeterminacy in process type classification. Functional Linguistics 2 , 8. 10.1186/s40554-015-0021-x

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Clausal analysis within Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) is generally based upon a classification of the clause into one of six process types. Although this allocation is often portrayed as clear-cut, in practice process distinction can be unclear, and a single verb may meet the coding criteria of a number of categories. The aim of this paper is to examine the nature of indeterminacy within a transitive SFL analysis, by surveying experienced SFL users for their classification of 20 clauses. Our main findings are threefold: 1) inconsistency of analysis was very prevalent - we find only one of the critical clauses to be unanimously categorised for process type; 2) the main area of disagreement between analysts was the selection of Material vs. Verbal processes; 3) clauses with low consistency ratings appeared to include performative main verbs. These findings are discussed in the light of the semantic properties of performativity, which may contribute to the difficulty in process type identification; further, possible alleviations to these issues are discussed in order to allow for a full consideration of both the syntactic and semantic realisation of the clause, in situations where these streams of information may diverge.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: SpringerOpen
ISSN: 2196-419X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 7 September 2015
Last Modified: 06 May 2023 04:23

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