Introduction

An Introduction to Functional Grammar by Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday, Christian M. I. M.

By Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday, Christian M. I. M. Matthiessen

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Thus, tree, flower, grass share the feature of being generic names of plants; the corpus might show that they have in common a tendency to collocate with names of colours, various forms of the item grow and so on. Such sets are typically fuzzy, with doubtful or part-time members (for example, bush, blossom). Word association tests carried out many years ago showed that people associated words along both axes: if asked what other words sprang to mind when they heard tree they would come up both with words that were related syntagmatically, such as green and grow, and with words that were related paradigmatically, such as grass and bush.

Jacaranda, mimosa say ... hesitation country ... beautiful The measure of collocation is the degree to which the probability of a word (lexical item) increases given the presence of a certain other word (the node) within a specified range (the span). This can be measured in a corpus. Suppose, for example, the word season occurs 1000 times in the corpus of ten million words: this would give it a certain overall probability of occurrence. But it might be found that, given the node change and a span of ±4 (that is, four words on either side), the probability of season occurring went up to a significant extent.

These ‘absent’ items do not need to be mentioned; they are part of the meaning of the items that are there in the text, virtually present once the relevant vectors have been established. Figure 2-1 illustrates the lexical relations set up within this passage. (iv) Paradigmatic/grammatical (the grammatical system) As discussed in Chapter 1, grammatical categories are organized in systems. For example, there is a system of PERSON, based (in English as in most other languages) on the opposition of ‘you-and-me’ versus ‘everyone (and perhaps everything) else’, and then on that of ‘you’ as opposed to ‘me’ (Figure 2-2).

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