Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Journal: Functional Linguistics

At the official opening of the M.A.K. Halliday library at Sun Yat-sen University during ISFC 40 (see news here), the library announced that it will sponsor the new SpringerOpen journal Functional Linguistics. The journal has the great and good of the SFL community serving as editors and on its editorial board and promises to be a major source for new research in SFL.
In addition to regular research articles, authors are invited to contribute book reviews, reviews, commentaries and short reports to Functional Linguistics. Here is the description of the journal from the website:

Functional Linguistics publishes scholarly articles and reviews in the broad area of functional studies, with a special focus on systemic functional linguistics. The journal aims to provide a platform for the exploration of language and linguistic issues from a functional and meaning-oriented perspective. Areas to be covered in this journal include: language and context, functional grammar, semantic variation, discourse analysis, multimodality, register and genre analysis, educational linguistics, etc.

The journal will have the support, quality and prestige of Springer publishers because of the peer review process, but will be Open Access thanks to the generous sponsorship of the library and so all of the articles will be freely available. This appears to the ideal combination. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project. The journal is now accepting papers for publication. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, July 25, 2013


It's here. (I told you it was coming.) For its 4th edition, An Introduction to Functional Grammar (known to its friends as IFG) has been re-branded as "Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar." Following on from the major revision by Michael Halliday and Christian Matthiessen for the 3rd Edition, IFG4 contains copious corpus samples and detailed descriptions of theory and sample analyses. IFG has now been revised four times in the last four decades and is published (officially in 2014), for the first time, by Routledge instead of (Edward) Arnold.

IFG4 is now much more of a reference grammar than the teaching grammar that appeared as IFG1 in 1985. This is probably because we now have the very useful guides by Geoff Thompson ("Introducing Functional Grammar" now in its 3rd Edition), Bloor and Bloor ("The Functional Analysis of English" also 3rd Edition), Eggins ("An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics" 2nd edition), Butt et al. ("Using Functional Grammar" 3rd edition), Drogba and Humphrey, Martin, Matthiessen and Painter, and so on.

It seems to me, at first glance, that a majority of the revisions come from connecting to other research in SFL - an extended bibliography constitutes more than 20 of the approximately 100 new pages. This, and the extended index, add great value and functionality to the volume, particularly compared with IFG1, while maintaining almost the same analytical framework.

IFG remains the definitive guide to Systemic Functional Linguistics. It is not the only approach to Systemic Functional Linguistics, (Martin's "English Text" and various volumes by Fawcett offer alternative views on SFL analysis) but it is undoubtedly the most influential and the version that most newcomers to discourse analysis try to learn.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Need a ready-prepared research tool to assess interaction patterns in a language classroom? Ask IRIS. Need to find a typical activity to evaluate reading at intermediate level? Ask IRIS. Need to find a questionnaire on learner styles? Ask IRIS. So who's IRIS?

IRIS (Instruments for Research into Second Languages) is a database of tools for language and linguistics research. Or, as they put it:
IRIS is a collection of instruments, materials and stimuli used to elicit data for research into second and foreign languages. Materials are freely accessible and searchable, easy to upload (for contributions) and download (for use).
This is a project by the University of York in the UK and Georgetown University in the US, with supporters including Rod Ellis, Susan Gass, Jan Hulstijn and Peter Skehan, and is run by Emma Marsden at York and Alison Mackey at Georgetown. You can freely browsesearch and download from the database and you can join up, which gives you the choice to upload your own research tool to the database.
As with any database, it can only be as useful as its contents. The research community is asked to contribute their research papers, using the form to identify research tools, references, participants etc.
As a quick test, I was able to filter the results to reading tests and found the page on the right, which I have also downloaded. Quick, easy and very helpful.
For researchers, the advantage of IRIS is that they do not have to reinvent a (possibly inferior) research tool while for contributors clearly the advantage is the possibility that someone may replicate their research or  validate their research tool.
There is a conference on 2-3 September in York, called Eliciting data in second language research: Challenge and Innovation, which promises to be a very stimulating event. Finally, if you would like to spread the news, here is a poster for the database