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Register and Genre. SFL and Strata: Each stratum is embedded in the higher one. To understand and produce discourse you need knowledge of ALL strata. Motivational relevancies (Hasan 1996) i.e. what elements the sender cannot ignore in his/her conception of what is relevant to the interaction.

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Motivational relevancies (Hasan 1996)i.e. what elements the sender cannot ignore in his/her conception of what is relevant to the interaction

  • The nature of the social process: what is being achieved through the acts of verbal meaning.
  • The nature of the relationship between the interactants
  • The nature of the mode for the message transmission

OR – Field, Tenor and Mode (Halliday 1985)

  • What is the nature of the social action that is taking place?
  • What is it that the participants are engaged in?

Hasan 1996 sees this as a cline of institutionalisation :

institutionalisation individualisation

AND the cline of goal awareness:

visible invisible

tenor 1
Tenor (1)
  • Who is taking part in the interaction?
  • What are the statuses of the participants?
  • What are the roles of the participants?
  • Are the relationships between the participants of a temporary or permanent nature?
  • What types of speech roles are they adopting?

Social distance cline:

maximal minimal

tenor 2
Tenor (2)
  • Further distinction to describe (dictate) tenor (Butt 2002):

Regularity of contact

Modes of contact (or multiplexity)

Shared local history

Cultural capital

mode 1
Mode (1)
  • What part is langauge playing in the interaction?
  • What is it that the participants are expecting language to do for them in that situation?
  • What is the symbolic organisation of the text?
  • What status does the text have?
  • What is the function of the text in this context?
  • What is the channel: written or spoken?
  • What is the rhetorical mode (e.g. persuasive, expository etc)? In other words: what is being achieved by the text?
mode 2
Mode (2)
  • What part is langauge playing in the interaction?

constitutive ancillary

  • What is it that the participants are expecting language to do for them in that situation? (process sharing)

monologue dialogue

mode 3
Mode (3)
  • Channel and Medium

writtenness spokenness

Channel: phonic or graphic

Medium: spoken – written

(Messaging: graphic channel with spoken medium)

context of situation 1
Context of situation (1)

type of situation


material situational setting

e.g. reading of poem independent of whether in a school or theatre (language constitutive)

Some material situational settings impinge on the language (discourse) more than others.

context of situation 2
Context of Situation (2)
  • The situation types that recur in resonse to contextual demans of a particular culture:

context of culture

which frames the context of situation:

Mutually constructuve, i.e. “context of culture both determines and is determined by situation types, and context of situation both construes and is construed by the linguistic system” Fenton Smith (2005)

context of situation 3
Context of Situation (3)
  • The situation type and the types of expression that go with it are what have been defined as:


“Each context of situation corresponds to a location along the dimension of register variation – that is to a register” Matthieson 1993

register 1
Register (1)
  • “A register is a semantic concept. It can be defined as a configuration of meanings that are typically associated with a particualr situational configuration of field, mode and tenor. But since it is a configuration of meanings, a register must also, of course, include the expressions, the lexico.grammatical and phonological features, that typically accompany or REALISE these meanings” Halliday 1985
register 2
Register (2)
  • Registers constrain the meanings that are likely to be made in situational contexts in society
  • Not everyone has access to all registers (people have registerial repertoires)
  • These repertoires determine the number of contexts that people can successfully operate in;
  • Defining registers defines the overall semiotic space of a culture (this is the task of the discourse analyst)
two dimensions to context theory
Two dimensions to context theory
  • Metafunctional: elements in context which impinge on the functions of a text
  • Stratal: context realises culture which is in turn realised by language.
cda cognitive model mentalist model
CDA – cognitive model(mentalist model)
  • The relevant context is whatever mental model the participants form of the speech situation.
van dijk s contextual parameters
Van Dijk’s contextual parameters
  • (Social) Domain (similar to field – general area of endeavour the participants perceive themselves to be working in – implies an ability of interactors to identify domain)
  • Institution (social groups, institutions, organisations)
  • Setting (time and place)
  • Local Actions (micro-level actions by which global tasks are accomlished)
  • Participants (communicative, interactional, socio-political)
  • Cognition (participants’ mental models of the social situation, their intention, knowledge of other participants and own beliefs and ideologies)
da and genre analysis a brief history three main phases
DA and genre analysis – a brief historyThree main phases:
  • Textualisation – focusing on lexico-grammatical resources, typical/frequent froms in specific genres
  • Organisation – focusing on coherence and cohesion and how these create a whole text
  • Contextualisation – going beyond the text itself to analyse the context and purpose of the text
learning about genres
Learning about genres

Most written genres studied belong to professional domains :-

  • Professionals learn the ‘language’ of their profession at the same time and as an integral part of the ‘content’, knowledge and ‘skills’ of their profession. (e.g. engineers learn how to draft a structural report as they learn about the calculations reported therein.
  • How can a tranlsator acquire this knowledge for miriad of genres?????
genre analysis bhatia s four space model
Genre Analysis – Bhatia’s ‘four-space’ model
  • Language as text
  • Language as genre
  • Language as professional practice
  • Language as social practice

Vijay K. Bhatia 2004 Worlds of written discourse

genres fixed or dynamic
Genres – fixed or dynamic?
  • There is a certain interplay and tension between what Bhatia calls ‘generic integrity’ (a text genre respects in the full all characterisitics of the genre), ‘generic appropriation’ (a text uses features from another genre to achieve the desired outcome) and ‘generic creativity’ (a text uses novel features to achieve the desired effect thus modifying the genre)
contextualisation of discourse
Contextualisation of discourse
  • Purposes: institutionalized community goals and communicative purposes
  • Products: textual artefacts or genres
  • Practices: Discursive practices, procedures and processes
  • Players: Discourse and professional community memebership

Bhatia 1999

broader context the whole picture
Broader context – the whole picture
  • Company reports/letters to shareholders
  • Often issued with a disclaimer (exonerating the company from any responsibility if their future projections are not met)
  • Have to go beyond the main letter (often depicting a rosy picture) - the disclaimer sheds a different light on the more positive tone of the letter to shareholders.

Bhatia 2004

discourse as genre
Discourse as genre
  • “extends the analysis beyond the textual product to incorporate context in a broader sens to account for not only the way text is constructed, but also for the way it is often interpreted, used and exploited in specific institutional or more narrowly professional contexts to achieve specific disciplinary goals” ibid p 20
translating genres genre knowledge
Translating genres – genre knowledge
  • When translating the translator needs to be aware of differences in the context of use, the ‘lexicogrammatical’ choices may be different depending on the typical/distinctive lexicogrammatical froms of the particular genre in that particular ‘social space’
an example
An example:



Please take a shower before using any facility

Please wash and disinfect Your feet in the apposite tub. Wear slippers or walk barefoot.

Please be quiet and enjoy the silence



E’obbligatoria la doccia prima dell’utilizzo dei servizi del centro

Disinfettare i piedi all’apposita vaschetta. Camminare scalzi o con ciabattine di gomma

Per il rispetto e la quiete di tutti, parlare a bassa voce