Sunday, October 30, 2011

ISFC38 Plenary - Frances Christie

The eminently practical  and ever-reliable Frances Christie offers her views on "Knowledge structures and school literary studies" in this plenary session from the 38th International Systemic Functional Congress in Portugal, on 25th July 2011. Prof. Christie focuses on how the subject of English literature is represented in knowledge structures (from Bernstein).

The link  to the Flash version  is a much better version than the Quicktime link  which is provided only for those unfortunate enough to be accessing the internet through a handicapped Apple device.Flash version: Quicktime version:

For more ISFC38 plenaries, watch this space or, to find out more yourself, go here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

DRAL Proceedings

The proceedings for the DRAL conference held at King Monkut's University of Technology, Thonburi, in Thaliand, April 21st & 22nd 2011 are now available online.
There are 2 'volumes.' One is a CD and one is a publication, but online they are the same. Below are the TOC for each volume. (Click to enlarge)
And you can read about my experience of DRAL here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Just to let you know that, thanks to Collins Cobuild & Oliver Mason, GRAMMAR PATTERNS 1: VERBS is available in its entirety online for FREE!!!
All you have to do is navigate to this part of Birmingham University's website, et voila!

Here's the TOC:
Chapter 1: Simple Patterns
1 V
2 V n
3 V pl-n
4 V pron-refl
5 V amount
6 V adj
7 V -ing
8 V to-inf
9 V inf
10 V that
11 V wh
12 V wh-to-inf
13 V with quote
14 V so/not
15 V as if, V as though
16 V and v
Chapter 2: Simple Patterns with Prepositions and Adverbs
1 V prep/adv, V adv/prep
2 V adv
3 pl-n V together
4 V prep
5 V about n
6 V across n
7 V after n
8 V against n
9 V around/round n
10 V as adj
11 V as n
12 V as to wh
13 V at n
14 V between pl-n
15 V by amount
16 V by -ing
17 V for n
18 V from n
19 V in n
20 V in favour of n
21 V into n
22 V like n
23 V of n
24 V off n
25 V on n
26 V on to n, V onto n
27 V out of n
28 V over n
29 V through n
30 V to n
31 V towards/toward n
32 V under n
33 V with n
34 Less frequent patterns

Chapter 3: Complex Patterns
1 V n n
2 V n adj
3 V n -ing
4 V n to-inf
5 V n inf
6 V n that
7 V n wh
8 V n wh-to-inf
9 V n with quote
10 V n -ed
Chapter 4: Complex Patterns with Prepositions and Adverbs
1 V n prep/adv, V n adv/prep
2 V n with adv
3 V pl-n with together
4 V way prep/adv
5 V n about n
6 V n against n
7 V n as adj
8 V n as n
9 V n as to wh
10 V n at n
11 V n between/among pl-n
12 V n by n
13 V n for n
14 V n from n
15 V n in n
16 V n into n
17 V n into -ing
18 V n of n
19 V n off n
20 V n on n
21 V n onto n, V n on to n
22 V n out of n
23 V n over n
24 V n to n
25 V n towards/toward n
26 V n with n
27 Less frequent patterns
Chapter 5: Link Verbs
Chapter 6: Reciprocal Verbs
Chapter 7: Ergative Verbs
Chapter 8: Ergative Reciprocal Verbs
Chapter 9: Verb Patterns with it
1 Introductory it as Subject
2 Introductory it as Object
3 General it as Subject
4 General it as Object
Chapter 10: Patterns with there
Chapter 11: Auxiliaries, Modals, and Phrasal Modals
1 Auxiliaries
2 Modals
3 Phrasal modals
Chapter 12: Combinations of Patterns

ISFC38 Plenary - Jim Martin Speaks Out

The 38th International Systemic Functional Congress (ISFC 38) in Lisbon, Portugal may not have been the most well-attended event, but it certainly produced some interesting talks. It was also interesting for including a number of non-systemic linguists as plenary speakers who were employed well for summarising, responding to and engaging with the plenary speakers. (While ISFC 37 had non-systemicists they were generally not linguists.)

The good news is that the influential and often controversial Jim Martin was given a microphone that actually worked. (Unfortunately for him, he had to hold it throughout the talk.) This means we can see and hear him from here.

His talk is "Modelling Context: Matter as Meaning" and attacks the issue of how SFL deals with context. Although SFL considers that it accounts for context better than most linguistic theories, this talk points out that SFL still has a long way to go before it can consider that it has a satisfactory description of the 'interface' between language and context.

Thanks to Carlos A. M. Gouveia & his team for making these videos available. I will (as with last year's videos) review and post them when I get the chance.


phpSyntax is a handy online resource that allows you to draw tree diagrams.

Through a very simple interface, you are asked to enter your syntactic strings. The example given is

[S [NP phpSyntaxTree][VP [V creates][NP nice syntax trees]]]

The interface tells you if you have closed as many brackets as you have opened, and if you have then you can ask it to draw your tree diagram. The example here produces:

The options offered for the drawing are:
Font Type - Font Size - Colour (or b/w) - Smooth Lines (look better on screen) - Auto subscript (to number each token) - Triangles (or open boxes).
So, for example, from this input:
[S [NP [Det The] [NP [Adj quick] [Adj brown] [N fox] ]][VP [VP [Aux V1][V jump] [Adv over]][NP [Det the] [NP [Adj lazy] [N dog]]]]]
all the different choices produce this image:

I know I am not the world's number one fan for syntactic approaches to language (just look at this blog), but sometimes you just have to work this way and I like the great results offered by this programme. (All images are png and so can be used in a variety of programmes). But don't just take my word for it. Latest figures tell me that nearly 120,000 graphs have been drawn since November 2003. It is also possible to download the code and set up the program yourself (or with a little help, as I had) online or using a virtual php server. Thanks to Mei Eisenbach for the idea and linguistic guidance and to André Eisenbach for coding & design.

Journal of Academic Language and Learning

Journal of Academic Language and Learning (ISSN: 1835-5196) is a peer-reviewed online, open access journal. That means - it's good quality and FREE!!!

JALL 5/1 has just been published. Here is the TOC for this edition:

  • How effectively and consistently do international postgraduate students apply the writing strategies they have been taught in a generic skills based course to their subsequent discipline based studies?            Janet Elizabeth Counsell
  • Apprenticing students to academic discourse: Using student and teacher feedback to analyse the extent to which a discipline-specific academic literacies program works.          Tessa Kathleen Green          Cintia Inès Agosti
  • A historical literature review of Australian publications in the field of Academic Language and Learning in the 1980s: Themes, schemes, and schisms: Part One           Kate Chanock
  • A historical literature review of Australian publications in the field of Academic Language and Learning in the 1980s: Themes, schemes, and schisms: Part Two           Kate Chanock
  • Peer feedback on writing: Is on-line actually better than on-paper?           Josephine Ellis
  • When a pass is not a pass           Keith McNaught
  • Speaking and listening in the multicultural University: A reflective case study           Helen Fraser
  • Identifying the needs of students with English-as-an-additional-language for pharmacist-patient counselling: an interdisciplinary research approach           Beverley Anne Kokkinn           Ieva Stupans
  • Co-constructing academic literacy: Examining teacher-student discourse in a one-to-one consultation           Kate Wilson          Garry Collins          Judy Couchman          Linda Li
You can also find more good quality papers from the archive.

Help the Apes

You may have heard about Kanzi, Panbanisha or other apes at The Great Ape TRUST, you may have heard about the enormous advances made by Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and her colleagues in communicating with another species, or you may have seen a talk on the amazing developments made in reducing the misunderstanding that many people have about what makes human language different from communication systems of other genetically closely-related species. If not, please check out the TED talk by Sue here and on an earlier blog entry here and from The Great Ape TRUST.

Did you know that despite the amazing breakthroughs that they have made, this exemplary research centre is under threat due to a lack of funds? They are asking people to make donations, small or large, to help with research projects, day-to-day running of the centre and feeding programmes. This is hopefully a temporary situation as the centre makes the transition from depending on a few benefactors to a wider range of donations and sources of funding. You can find out more from here, and you can make a donation by clicking on the small window on the right of the home page for  The Great Ape TRUST. It looks just like the one on the left.