Rabu, 27 Januari 2010

verb processes

Literary Stylistics:
Lecture Notes no. 9
What's on this page
Transitivity: Definitions
The Six Processes
Further Observations on the Processes
Passivisation and Participants
Behavioural Processes: Notes
Mental Processes: Notes
Material Processes: Notes
The Traditional Definition
The traditional definition of transitivity has been discussed in previous lectures (for example: [1], [2], [3], [4]). You may also want to take a look at the entry Transitive versus Intransitive Verbs in Jack Lynch's electronic book Grammar and Style Notes or What Is Transitivity from the Summer Institute of Linguistics' Glossary of Linguistic Terms.
Transitivity is normally understood as the grammatical feature which indicates if a verb takes a direct object. By now, you should know very well that if the verb
• takes a direct object, then it is described as transitive, and
• it is called intransitive if it does not;
• an extension of this concept is the ditransitive verb, which takes both a direct and an indirect object.
This traditional notion of transitivity is used in Halliday's article on William Golding's The Inheritors, which is mentioned in the last lecture.
Halliday's Approach
The concept of transitivity which is found in Halliday's Introduction however, represents a further development of the concept. In Halliday's conception in his Introduction to Functional Grammar, whether a verb takes or does not take a direct object is not a prime consideration. Halliday's conception is also useful for stylistic analysis, and will be explained further in this and the next lectures. However, the traditional conception of transitivity does continue to be useful in stylistic analysis, and it may thus be worthwhile to indicate the connection between the two approaches to transitivity, which I have done in today's lecture.
In the concept of transitivity found in Halliday's Introduction, there are three components of what Halliday calls a transitivity process:
(i) the process itself
(ii) participants in the process
(iii) circumstances associated with the process
• The process is realized by a verbal group,
• the participant(s) by (a) nominal group(s) (although, as noted later, there may be exceptions here), and
• the circumstance(s) by (an) adverbial group(s) or prepositional phrase(s),
as illustrated in Halliday's Table 5(1) in the earlier editions and Table 5(2) in the third, which is given below:
Table 8.1:
Typical function of group and phrase classes
type of element: typically realized by:
(i) process
(ii) participant
(iii) circumstance verbal group
nominal group
adverbial group or prepositional phrase
In relation to the above, it may also be useful to view the elements of the clause not only in terms of groups and phrases, but also in terms of the S-P-C-A structure, as illustrated below:

Table 8.2
the student reads the book carefully in the library
participant process participant circumstance circumstance (transitivity)
group verbal
group nominal
group adverbial
group prepositional
phrase (class)
Subject Predicator Complement Adjunct Adjunct (clause structure)
As you may know from my previous lectures, the subject and predicator are the most likely elements to appear in a clause. We may also note that the existence of the complement depends on the usage of either a transitive verb or an intensive verb which requires a nominal group or adjective / adjective phrase following it.
The presence or absence of the complement may in turn determine whether there are one or two participants in the clause, in the sense that (in most cases)
• if there is no complement, there is one participant, and
• if there is one complement, there are two participants.
The presence of the circumstantial adjunct, as I mentioned in the previous lecture lecture notes, depends on the level of description needed by the speaker/writer of the clause. We may note here that the circumstantial adjuncts are also of concern in Hallidayan transitivity analysis.
The possibilities in the conventional distinction between transitive and intransitive verbs, in relation to Halliday's analysis of transitivity are illustrated in the examples below. (N.B.: '(i)' indicates an intransitive verb, whereas '(t)' indicates a transitive verb. If a number is added to a participant, '[1]' refers to the first participant, whereas '[2]' refers to the second participant).
Table 8.3
the boy runs(i)
Participant Process
Subject Predicator
Table 8.4
the boy kicks(t) the ball
Participant [1] Process Participant [2]
Subject Predicator Complement
Table 8.5
the boy runs(i) on the road
Participant Process Circumstance
Subject Predicator Adjunct
Table 8.6
the boy kicks(t) the ball on the field
Participant [1] Process Participant [2] Circumstance
Subject Predicator Complement Adjunct
Page Index
The Six Processes in Halliday's Approach to Transitivity
The six processes involved in Halliday's approach to transitivity are best illustrated in Table 5(27) from the third edition, which is reproduced with a slight modification below: the round brackets indicate that the second participant which they enclose is optional.1

Table 8.7
Process type Category meaning Participants,
directly involved Participants,
obliquely involved
event 'doing'
'happening' Actor, (Goal) Recipient, Client;
Scope; Initiator;
behavioural 'behaving' Behaver Behaviour
cognition 'sensing'
'thinking' Senser, Phenomenon
verbal 'saying' Sayer, Target/Recipient Receiver, Verbiage
identification 'attributing'
'identifying' Token, Value
Carrier, Attribute
Identified, Identifier Attributor,
existential 'existing' Existent
Page Index
Note on learning the above table → For the sake of simplicity, you may want to concentrate on the first column initially, followed by the second (which in a way explains the first), then the third. You should go to the fourth column only when you are clear about the two earlier columns.
Some Notes and Further Observations on the Above Table
One of the things one can notice when one looks at the above table, is the number of (direct) participants involved for each of the processes:
• Behavioural and existential processes have only one participant each.
• The other processes may have two.
• We can also note that the second participants of material and relational processes may or may not be present.2
We can note two further points:
• Firstly, the participants are usually represented by nominal groups, and
• Secondly, processes with single participants make use of intransitive verbs, whilst those with two participants make use of transitive verbs (except for relational processes which make use of intensive verbs).
Page Index
Passivisation and Participant Positions
As you know, most clauses with transitive verbs may be passivised. For our purpose here, passivization changes the roles of the participants:
• the second participant becomes the subject, whilst
• the first participant becomes the adjunct, as illustrated below.
This indicates an important difference between Halliday's conception of the subject in the analysis of mood and modality, and his conception of the actor in transitivity analysis:
• The actor (or first participant) and subject occur in the same position only in the active voice.
• In the passive voice, they occur in different positions.
As we can see below, the actor or First Participant is realised
• by the Subject in the active voice and
• by the Adjunct in the passive voice.
The passive voice, as you know, may also give rise to the stylistically interesting phenomenon of agent deletion, where the actor or First Participant is not indicated, as in the clause 'the ghost has been seen', which does not indicate who has or have seen the ghost.

Table 8.8
a) Active Voice b) Passive Voice
the boy saw the ghost the ghost was seen by the boy
Participant[1] Process Participant[2] Participant[2] Process Participant[1]
Subject Predicator Complement Subject Predicator Adjunct
Page Index
Some Notes on the Behavioural Process
It should be mentioned here that behavioural processes stand between material and mental processes. Partly as a result of this, some of you may find it difficult to distinguish
• between behavioural process verbs and material process verbs on the one hand, and
• between behavioural process verbs and mental process verbs on the other.
As a rule of thumb, a behavioural process verb is
• intransitive (it has only one participant) and
• indicates an activity in which both the physical and mental aspects are inseparable and indispensable to it.
Page Index
Some Notes on the Mental Process
We should also note that a mental process is either
• transitive, or alternatively,
• the target of the mental activity indicated by the verb is either implicit, or mentioned in the adjunct that follows the verb.
Thus if a verb that describes sensing, feeling or thought is transitive, there is a very good likelihood that it is a mental, and not a behavioural process verb.
Page Index
Some Notes on the Material Process
Material process verbs, like mental process verbs, can either be transitive or intransitive. If a verb which describes physical action is transitive, it is virtually definite that it is a material, and not a behavioural process verb. For intransitive verbs, one way to determine whether an action is a material or behavioural process is to look at the actor:
• If the first participant of the intransitive verb denoting physical action is non-human, it is usually a material process verb.
• If the first participant of the intransitive verb is human, the process is
o material if the verb is decidedly actional, or
o behavioural if the verb is not only actional, but in some way dependent on the person's emotive, sensory or cognitive responses as well.
Page Index
1. The final column in the corresponding Tables 5(7) and 5(6) from the earlier editions of Halliday's Introduction is not found, and is added from the third edition to the above table . Although there are some difficulties in the first edition on whether the attribute in attributive relational processes is a participant, Halliday does appear to regard it as such in the second and third editions. Back to earlier position..
2. With regard to material processes, cf. the examples 'the lions sprang' and `the lion caught the tourist' found in Halliday's book. Both of them are material process clauses; but the former has one participant, whilst the latter has two. Back to earlier position..
Texts to Analyse
Passage from Katherine Mansfield's 'Feuille d'Album'
Carl Sandburg's 'A.E.F'
Emily Dickinson's 'The Soul Selects Her Own Society'
Hart Crane's 'North Labrador'
Click here for the notes for the next lecture.
Click here for the notes for the previous lecture.

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