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Book: Hybridity in Systemic Functional Linguistics

Chapter: 5. Re-orienting semantic dispositions: The role of hybrid forms of language use in university learning

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.24293


In her chapter, Caroline Coffin considers how one’s ‘semantic disposition’ (after Hasan 2009a) may be re-oriented (or not) through the process of institutionalized learning. As students appropriate and internalize concepts and perspectives from within and across different disciplines and apply these to personal and/or professional lived experience, they are learning to reconfigure the world. In so doing, their existing semantic dispositions are inevitably unsettled and re-formed – to a greater or lesser extent. So how does this occur? What role does language play? Coffin examines contexts of learning that activate meanings and wordings which can be seen as ‘hybrid’ from a number of perspectives. She argues that such contexts and discourses potentially enable students inhabiting a largely practical world constituted by specific lived experiences to enter into a predominantly theorized world constituted by abstract and generalized models of human behaviour, illustrating how, by expanding their semiotic resources, students become active agents in discursively extending, reclassifying and navigating between personal, professional and academic worlds.

Chapter Contributors

  • Caroline Coffin ( - carolinecoffin) 'Open University'