Friday seminar schedule 2010

ON this page you will find the schedule for the series of presentations for the Friday afternoon seminars held at the University of Sydney, sponsored by the Dept of Linguistics during 2nd semester 2010.

After each of the abstracts below, you can find a link to recordings of the presentations: either the powerpoint slides themselves, or both audio+slides of the talk.

Other pages on the site can be accessed via the top menu bar. These include an “About” page, and access to the Blog (“All Posts“) where you are invited to add your comments or register and post, as well as a page where we make available a collection of pdf-ised powerpoint presentations (“Presentation Collection“) which were made at times and places other than the friday seminars…
The blog posts can also be accessed via the sidebar by clicking on the titles of any of the most recent posts.


Friday Seminar Schedule

Semester 2, 2010
All seminars take place at Sydney University New Law building, Room 100, from 4pm to approximately 5.30pm.
All welcome to attend.

August 6th 2010

Presenter: Peter R. R. White
School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales
Title: “Journalistic voice, impartiality and ideological positioning in the hard news report.”
Many hard news reports are written under a text compositional regime in which the author avoids explicitly indicating an evaluative position on the material being presented. Such reports employ what has been termed “reporter voice” (see for example, Feez et al 2008 or White 2005) by which almost all overtly attitudinal meanings are confined to material attributed via quotation to outside sources. It is, at least in part, on the basis of such reporting that “broadsheet/quality” journalism makes its claim to impartiality, neutrality, balance and fairness. In many cases, such “objective” reports nevertheless covertly position the reader attitudinally, presenting a particular value position as “natural” and hence operating ideologically.
This paper will outline some of the key mechanisms by which ostensibly “objective” reports operate attitudinally, focussing primarily on the evaluative workings of implicit attitude (termed “invoked” in the Appraisal literature) and on the role played by textual structure in making a particular attitudinal perspective seem “natural”. It will also explore the possibility that, by their particular deployment of attitudinal meanings, at least some hard reports can be seen as operating more overtly in terms of the attitudinal choices they offer readers, thus operating less ideologically.


Feez, S., Iedema, R.,  & P.R.R. White. 2008. Media Literacy, Sydney, NSW Adult Migrant Education Service (revised and updated edition of Iedema at al.).

Iedema, R., S. Feez & P.R.R. White. 1994. Media Literacy, Sydney, Disadvantaged Schools Program, NSW Department of School Education.

August 13th 2010

Authors: Shoshana Dreyfus, Sally Humphrey & Lucy Macnaught
Title: Writing like a linguist: embedded literacy support for applied linguistics students
This paper reports on an ongoing research project that supports Masters of Applied Linguistics students’ independent writing with embedded literacy support (ELS) that includes critical analysis of target texts and teacher-led collaborative writing. The Masters of Applied Linguistics program attracts a large number of International students particularly from China and other Asia-Pacific countries. While these students meet the minimal language criteria set by the University (IELTS 6.5), many do not have the skills to produce the kinds of academic writing required in the units offered by the linguistics department and other departments in the Arts Faculty. Of particular importance in linguistic study is the skill of interpretation – the ability to interpret and write about the meanings created in other texts.

Understandings of genre developed within SFL Sydney School genre theory (eg. Rothery 1995) were drawn on to map a pathway of literacy and learning development across four core courses of the Masters program. With the extensive data we collect across the year, we aim to better understand the impacts of Sydney School genre pedagogy on language development at tertiary level and the patternings of language valued in MA Linguistic assessment texts.


Rothery, J. (1995) ‘Exploring Literacy in School English’ in Write it Right. Resources for Literacy and Learning in Junior Secondary English. Sydney: Disadvantaged Schools Program Metropolitan East Region, NSW Department of School Education.

Shoshana Dreyfus is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney conducting research into the field of Linguistics and the application of Sydney School genre theory in tertiary programs.

Sally Humphrey has worked for many years in the field of language education and applied linguistics. Most recently she worked as a postdoctoral fellow researching the development of online language learning at the University of Sydney and is now a senior lecturer at the Australian Catholic University.

Lucy Macnaught is a teacher of English as a Second Language. She is currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney, researching the Joint Construction stage of the Teaching Learning Cycle.

*Download powerpoint slides from this talk [care: large file]

August 20th 2010

Presenter: Alexanne Don
Title: “Negotiating affiliation and legitimating verbal behaviour in written interaction”

This talk discusses the way that verbal behaviour may be responded to in ways that serve to position interactants along a number of interpersonal dimensions: Contact (affiliation), Status (reciprocity), and Axiology (alignment). Through publicly signalling dis/alignment, responses can also act to ratify or legitimate the verbal behaviour and hence contribute to the negotiation over time of group practices or ‘norms’, as well as individual ‘identities’ within the group. Several excerpts from an electronically-mediated written conversation are discussed using a set of tenor dimensions which reference positions either ‘latent’ and/or ’emerging’ in the discourse community. These dimensions may be used to track the interpersonal positioning effected in the texts as unfolding logogenetically within each text, and phylogenetically within the discourse community in the study – and as potentially effected in discourse in general. The interpersonal (tenor) dimensions referred to here are partially activated through the use of the resources of Appraisal – Attitude and their targets in particular – and therefore the discussion highlights several evaluative elements in the texts.

*Download powerpoint slides of the presentation

August 27th 2010

Presenters: Frances Christie & Karl Maton
Title: “SFL theory and semantic gravity”

This talk will outline matters discussed at the recent Sixth International Basil Bernstein Symposium in Brisbane. The aim was to present two texts written by students in Year 12 as part of HSC English studies, concerning the theme of ‘The Journey’. (A paper on the same subject was given by Fran and Sally Humphrey a couple of years ago). The object, using SFL theory will be to investigate the meanings students are required to make and the ‘gazes’ (Bernstein 2000) they must acquire in undertaking the study of ‘The Journey’. Fran will outline the nature of the question and identify features of the two texts that reveal why one was highly regarded, while the other was not. Karl will then develop his account of the texts using his notion of semantic gravity. Overall, our interest will be in showing how the two theories can usefully complement each other.

* Click on this link to view slides and hear presentation by Fran & Karl. May take about 30 seconds to load depending on your connect speed.

September 3rd 2010

Presenter: Dr Claire Scott,
Language Centre, University of Wollongong
Title: “Semantic amplification: Exploring metafunctional and interstratal correspondence through the transitivity and judgement systems”

It has been acknowledged that there is an interface between appraisal resources and field of discourse, since what is evaluated is always something experienced (Martin & White 2005). Martin & White’s (2005) analyses of ideational and evaluative meanings in historical and media discourses, for example, begin to address the dependencies between the TRANSITIVITY and APPRAISAL systems, while earlier work on appraisal had tended to mention the relationship between TRANSITIVITY and APPRAISAL only in terms of realisational grammatical frames, particularly ‘ideational meanings which redound with affectual meanings’ (Martin 2000: 155). The focus has largely been on the localised evaluative lexical content, rather than the global potential for appraisal selections afforded by semantic and contextual factors – factors which also motivate selections in other systems if we take a stratal, register perspective on text as instantiation (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004).
In this seminar I explore the interaction of the systems of TRANSITIVITY (i.e. a lexicogrammatical system realising experiential meanings) and JUDGEMENT (i.e. an interpersonally oriented semantic system within the appraisal framework; see Martin & White 2005) by presenting a parallel analysis of selections from these systems in sets of topically related texts (see Scott 2008). I wish to show the power of combining the two forms of analysis as a basis for understanding texts as registerial varieties, and for exploring their ideological tendencies. The analysis shows that the different resources work together towards common semantic goals. Contextual shifts, particularly in mode and tenor, have metafunctional implications at the level of lexicogrammar, in the choices made from the system of TRANSITIVITY, and at the level of semantics, in the choices made from the system of APPRAISAL. It seems, therefore, that local appraisal and transitivity selections, although not strictly related metafunctionally, are still motivated by the same kind of global contextual and semantic considerations (see also Coffin & O’Halloran 2005).


Coffin, C. and O’Halloran, K. (2005). Finding the global groove: Theorising and analysing dynamic reader positioning using APPRAISAL, corpus, and a concordancer. Critical Discourse Studies, 2/2: 143-163.

Halliday, M. A. K. & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. 2004. An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd ed.). London: Arnold.

Martin, J. R. (2000). Beyond Exchange: APPRAISAL systems in English. In S. Hunston & G. Thompson (Eds.), Evaluation in Text: Authorial stance and the construction of discourse (pp. 142-175). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. (2005). The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

* Download a pdf version of Claire Scott’s powerpoint presentation

* Click here to listen to an audio file of Claire’s presentation. This may take a few seconds to download

September 10th 2010

Presenter: Robert McMurtrie,
University of New South Wales
Title: “The meaning of [exiting]”
Moving through space is a quotidian social practice that is often taken for granted. In this paper, I explore the role that movement plays in the grammar of architecture. Grammar is a term that no longer pertains exclusively to language; “grammars” have been developed to account for the meaning-making potential of other forms of communication such as visual design (Kress and van Leeuwen 2006), film (Baldry and Thibault 2006), haircuts (McMurtrie 2010) and architecture (O’Toole 1994, 2004; Stenglin 2004, 2009; Ravelli 2008; Ravelli and Stenglin 2008). I hypothesize that the pathways which thread throughout entire architectonic texts are analogous to clauses in spoken and written texts. Based on said hypothesis, I develop a fundamental, consolidated system network which resembles more the system networks that Halliday developed for language than has yet been achieved. The network not only displays paradigmatic and syntagmatic agnation, it also highlights that architecture as a semogenic system, approximating language as a semogenic system, has a system to structure cycle. After introducing and explicating the system network, I look at the highest grammatical meaning-making unit of an architectonic text through the logical metafunctional lens, describing the meaning potential of residents’ movements in the foyers of two contemporary highrise apartment complexes in Sydney. In the final part of the paper, I explore a lower-ranked grammatical unit through the interpersonal metafunctional lens. I observe the ways in which visitors to the Museum of Contemporary Art interact with exhibits and attempt to describe the meaning potential of this interaction and the contribution that this interaction makes to the meaning of the space in which it occurs.

* Click here to listen to an audio file of Robert’s presentation. The file may take a short time to download and buffer

September 17th 2010

Presenter: Hiromi Teramoto
University of Adelaide
Title: “Teacher-student relationship construed in classroom teacher talk: Applying Appraisal theory to classroom discourse analysis”
This presentation outlines my ongoing endeavour to analyse ESL classroom
teacher talk in an adult New Arrivals Program in South Australia. The current
focus on classroom teacher talk is part of a larger investigation into the ways
in which adult new arrivals were constructed in social practices that
surrounded them. The investigation has adopted a tri-dimensional analytical
approach informed by a Bernsteinian conceptualisation of education comprising
curriculum, pedagogy and assessment (Bernstein, 1972). The analysis of teacher
talk is concerned with exploring the dimension of pedagogy. Its focus is on the
ways the teacher constructed her role, and in return, constructed students’
roles. Teacher talk is approached initially in terms of macro pedagogic
functions that teacher talk was serving across lessons. This is achieved by
subcategorising regulative and instructional discourses (Bernstein, 1990;
Christie, 2002). The presentation then illustrates how one of the dominating
functions termed Norm-Setting talk, which is directed at setting norms for the learners, is explored further to identify, and subsequently to group together, the types of norms that were being set. Here, Appraisal theory (Martin and White, 2005) is used to indicate the use of evaluative language underpinning this macro function. The final stage of the presentation will focus closely on one segment of Norm-Setting talk, and I will explore how Appraisal resources were employed by the teacher to construe a particular kind of teacher-learner relationship, hence a particular identity of adult new arrivals.

*Click on this link to download a pdf version of Hiromi’s presentation.

*In addition this link will open an audio file of this presentation which may be “viewed” with the slides. May take a short while to download before streaming.

September 24th 2010

Presenter: Ken Tann
University of Sydney
Title: “Identity as verbiage: rallying around quotes, isms and proverbs”
Verbal expressions play a central role in the construction of communities in terms of categories and membership. Where language is seen as a vehicle of thought, expressions in the language of a community is regarded as the ineradicable mark of the community’s mentality and the evidence of identity and difference. It is in this tradition of reasoning that many twentieth century sociological and linguistic paradigms operate, informing much of the influential identity discourses that we recognize today, from the various forms of cultural stereotypes disseminated by governmental institutions to the gender discourses perpetuated by popular writers.

This paper will examine the role of verbal expressions such as quotations, popular sayings and isms in identity discourses, in terms of ‘attribution’ (Martin and White 2007), ‘commitment’ (Hood 2008) and ‘axiology’ (Martin, Maton and Matruglio forthcoming), to locate them within a broader framework of a functional iconography (Tann 2010a, 2010b). This framework brings the formally disparate categories of ‘isms’ and ‘proverbs’ together under the functional category Doxa, and allows us to distinguish between proverbs and quotations, thus raising questions about the role of idiomaticity and complicity in the negotiation of membership. I shall examine the use of Doxa in the construction of ‘Japaneseness’ and ‘Westerness’ in popular publications, focusing on the function of proverbs in these texts.


Hood, Susan. 2008. Summary Writing in Academic Contexts: Implicating meaning in processes of change. Linguistics and Education 19: 351-65.

Martin, J.R., Maton, K. and Matruglio, E. (in press, 2011) Historical cosmologies: Epistemology and axiology in Australian secondary school history. Revista Signos.

Tann, Ken 2010a. Semogenesis of a Nation: an iconography of Japanese identity, PhD dissertation, University of Sydney.

Tann, Ken 2010b. An iconography of national identity: people and things as syndromes of meaning, paper presented at the Systemic Functional Linguistics seminar series, May 2010. University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

* An audio and visual file of Ken’s presentation can be streamed by clicking here. These files are large, so please be patient while they buffer for playing.

[Ken has also provided us with the slides from his Free Linguistics presentation which is related to the content presented at this Friday seminar, and this can be accessed on the “Presentation Collection” page]

October 1st 2010

NO seminar – come to ASFLA in Adelaide instead!

October 8th 2010

Author: ChRIS CLÉiRIGh
[spoken by P.R.R. White]
Title: Bewildering: The Stylistic Deployment Of Layout In Maurice Sendak’s ‘Where The Wild Things Are’
This paper identifies some functions of the systems of ‘layout’ deployed in Maurice Sendak’s picturebook ‘Where The Wild Things Are’, as an exercise in multimodal stylistics, and locates layout in the theoretical architecture of Systemic Functional linguistics. This will also involve drawing on two other studies, one on the mythic symbology encoded in the text, the other on the pictorial differentiation of orders of experience. The paper also demonstrates how to use some dimensions of SFL theory, circumstantial and logical meanings, as tools for theorising.


CAMPBELL J 1993 [1949] The Hero With A Thousand Faces London: Fontana

CAMPBELL J 2007 Mythos: The Shaping Of Our Mythic Tradition Washington: Acorn Media

CECH J 1995 Angels And Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics Of Maurice Sendak University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press

HALLIDAY MAK 1985 Spoken And Written Language Geelong: Deakin University Press

HALLIDAY MAK 1992 How Do You Mean? in DAVIES M & RAVELLI L 1992 (eds) Advances In Systemic Linguistics: Recent Theory And Practice London & New York: Pinter

HALLIDAY MAK 2008 Complementarities In Language Beijing: The Commercial Press

HALLIDAY MAK & MATTHIESSEN CMIM 1999 Construing Experience Through Meaning: A Language-Based Approach To Cognition London: Continuum

HALLIDAY MAK & MATTHIESSEN CMIM 2004 An Introduction To Functional Grammar London: Arnold

MATTHIESSEN CMIM 2007 The Multimodal Page: A Systematic Functional Exploration in ROYCE TD & BOWCHER WL (eds) 2007 New Directions In The Analysis Of Multimodal Discourse London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

* The audio and slide file of this presentation can be viewed and heard by clicking here. This is a very large file, so do not be surprised if it takes some time to download and buffer before you can start to play.

October 15th 2010

Presenter: David Caldwell
University of Sydney
Title: “The rap verse and sung hook: an interpersonal discourse semantic analysis”
For more than two decades scholars have described the language practices of rap music and hip-hop culture (e.g. Shusterman 1991; Brennan 1994; Smitherman 2000; Richardson 2006). And while this canon is immense in size and scope, it has tended to focus exclusively on the ideational meanings in rap music – “the topics or themes commonly dealt with” (Krims 2000: 55). Moreover, linguistic analyses of rap music have mostly described the rap verse, as distinct from its sung chorus. The sung chorus is a feature of the popular rap style and is generally characterized as more inclusive than the rap verse; it functions to ‘hook’ the listener in.

This seminar examines the interpersonal discourse semantics of the rap verse and sung hook in Kanye West’s debut rap album The College Dropout (2004). Specifically, the seminar will apply appraisal and involvement (Martin & White 2005) to the data, with an aim to describe the rhetorical features of both the rap verse and sung chorus. The ultimate aim is to then hypothesize the ways in which consumers bond with the rap verse and sung hook in terms of the tenor variables of power and solidarity. Reference will also be made to recent theorizing in individuation and bonding (e.g. Martin 2010).

The slides and audio of David’s presentation may be heard and viewed by clicking here
[file is large and may take a few seconds before it can be played]

October 22nd 2010

Presenter: Dorothy Economou
Title: ” Interpersonal meaning in news photos: visual appraisal systems”

In this session I will present the visual appraisal systems developed in my PhD. These resulted from interrogating a corpus of 450+ broadsheet news photos from the perspective of SFL appraisal theory. Despite the reliance on evocation in the naturalistic news photo, the major semantic categories of the three appraisal systems provide useful tools for describing evaluation in news photos. In turn, these tools allowed for appraisal analysis across semiotic systems which I conducted to fulfil the overarching aim of my thesis – a comparison of verbal-visual evaluative stance on one social issue in ‘serious’ journalism texts across two cultures.

The focus of this session will be on theory building – the presentation of the three visual semantic systems and the exemplification of realisations for each option. These systems will also be viewed in terms of their illumination of, or applicability to photo-journalism and photo-editing practice. Most significantly, the visual graduation system has proved the most fruitful appraisal tool – offering the greatest evaluative potential in this ideationally oriented visual genre. By systematising the many gradable technological–digital expression resources available for this topographical visual semiotic from the perspective of how they flag evaluative meaning, more explicit links than found in the journalism literature can be made between stated editorial aims and specific photo-editorial practices.

Also, though the visual engagement system mapped here has a more restricted potential, a new heteroglossic option is proposed, one that operates at the level of context. This is where a news photos ‘suggests’ an external, non-news visual genre/context. Whether it is appropriate to include this meaning in the engagement system or not, it identifies a powerful means by which a ‘factual’ news photo can provoke evaluation and position viewers – one not explicitly discussed in the journalism literature.

Martin. J.R, & White, P.R.R 2005 The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English.
New York: Palgrave MacMillan

Economou, D. 2009 Photos in the News: Appraisal Analysis of Visual Semiosis and
Verbal-visual Intersemiosis. Ph.D University of Sydney

The slides and audio of Dorothy’s presentation may be heard and viewed by clicking here. As the file is large, please expect to wait a few seconds while the file buffers for playing

October 29th 2010

Presenters: John Knox and Helen Caple
Title: “Exploring image galleries in online newspapers”

Online news galleries represent new practices of multimodal news reporting, yet little or no research has been published about their story-telling capabilities, or the emerging practices in this relatively new form of institutional story-telling.

Building on work by Caple (2009) and Knox (2009), and under the influence of Iedema, Feez & White (1994), this presentation maps the early steps in a research project aiming to describe and map the genre(s) of online news galleries. In particular, it looks at three such galleries, the extent to which they may or may not be considered stories, the relations between genre and design in multimodal story-telling of this kind, and the implications for this research project of the findings.

This presentation is a revised version of an earlier presentation given at ISFC, Vancouver, July 2010.


Caple, H. (2009). Playing with words and pictures: Intersemiosis in a new genre of news reportage. Unpublished Ph.D., University of Sydney, Sydney.

Iedema, R., Feez, S., & White, P. R. R. (1994). Stage two: Media literacy. A report for the Write it Right Literacy in Industry Research Project Sydney: Disadvantaged Schools Program, N.S.W. Department of School Education.

Knox, J. S. (2009). Multimodal discourse on online newspaper home pages: A social-semiotic perspective. Unpublished Ph.D., University of Sydney, Sydney.

*The audio file of this presentation can be heard by clicking here

strong lobbying has occurred, and there will be one further presentation this semester. see below: the venue for the final presentation is Room 117 in the New Law building

November 5th 2010

Presenter: Cecilia Fung-Kan Pun
City University of Hong Kong/ University of Sydney
Title: “Abstraction in definition, or indefinition”


Having the ability to use abstractions strategically in academic texts is crucial, and thus the development of this linguistic resource is one thing students need to master in order to succeed at university. However, the notion of abstraction is not fully developed, and in fact never defined, with the field of SFL. This seminar will focus on an ongoing exploration of abstraction, which has the aim of developing a framework for describing abstraction, and then understanding the intersection between abstraction and PERIODICITY (Martin & Rose 2004). This study draws on the work of Halliday & Hasan (1976) and Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) on general nouns; Martin & Rose (2004/2007) on abstractions; and Drefus & Jones (2008) on the cline of abstractions.

The texts under analysis come from the work of students in an English enhancement project, the Language Companion Course (LCC), which was conducted at the City University of Hong Kong (Webster & Chan 2008; Mahboob, Dreyfus, Humphrey & Martin 2010). In conjunction with Sydney University, this project used ‘Sydney School’ genre pedagogy (Martin 2000) to design support materials to assist students with writing assigments.

Dreyfus, S. and Jones, P. (2008). Mapping Sense of Place: Further descriptions of circumstance of location. In C. Wu, C.M.I.M. Matthiessen & M. Herke (eds). Proceedings of ISFC 35: Voices around the world, pp. 340-344. Sydney: the 35th Organizing Committee.
Halliday, M.A.K. and Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London : Longman.
Halliday, M.A.K. and Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (1999). Construing Experience through Meaning: a language-based approach to cognition. London: Cassell.
Mahboob, A., Dreyfus, S., Humphrey, S. & Martin, J.R. (2010). Appliable Linguistics and English Language Teaching: the Scaffolding Literacy in Adult and Tertiary Environments (SLATE) project. In A. Mahboob & N. Knight (eds) Appliable Linguistics: Texts, contexts and meanings, pp.25-43. London: Continuum.
Martin, J.R. (1999).Mentoring semogenesis: ‘genre-based’ literacy pedagogy. In F. Christie (ed.) Pedagogy and the Shaping of Consciousness: Linguistics and Social Process, pp. 123-55. London & New York: Continuum.
Martin, J.R. & Rose, D. (2004/2007). Working with Discourse: Meaning beyond the Clause. London, New York: Continuum.
Webster, J.J. & Chan, A. (2008). The Evaluation of the Language Companion Course Project: preliminary report on the pilot (Semester A, 2007/2008). [Unpublished report].

* The pdf version of the slides from Cecilia’s presentation are available for download here

November 5th 2010

Title: friday-seminar end-of-year wrap-party
Venue: peter and lexie’s place in enmore (if you do not know how to get there, please email for address and directions)
Time: 7pm until need to leave
A final get-together to talk, and try cocktails – especially Brazilian caipirinhas, prepared by Roseli in the traditional manner with genuine Brazilian ingredients. first come first served. there will be various foods provided to augment the libations – but no pretensions to a proper dinner party. welcome all seminar participants, presenters and audiences alike.
the usual pub gathering is encouraged after the seminar – peter may be able to shepherd party-goers to the venue…

wrap party reported to be enjoyed by all. caipirinhas flowed and were delicious, conversation swelled and filled the room, no one was injured.

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