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Book: Context in the System and Process of Language

Chapter: 1. Language and society in a systemic functional perspective [2005]

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.28030


The first chapter in this volume – ‘Language and society: a systemic functional perspective’, a paper originally appearing in Continuing Discourse on Language: A Functional Perspective (Equinox 2005) – clearly establishes the author’s ideological position, namely, that ‘the social and the semiotic are inseparable: their co-evolution is the history of humanity’. As Professor Ruqaiya Hasan, explains, it is an ideological position which is rooted in the writings of Malinowski, Firth, Bernstein and Halliday, and fundamental to SFL’s ‘struggle to understand how and why language works’. This ‘interdependence of the social and the semiotic’ becomes apparent in the ways ‘we use language to do things in social life’, prompting exploration into ‘situationally appropriate discourse’ (register) describable in terms of ‘the nature of the activity (field)’, ‘interactant relations (tenor)’, and ‘changing modes of contact’.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ruqaiya Hasan† ( - book-auth-41) 'Macquarie University (Emeritus)'