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Halliday symposium: a visionary linguist

17 February 2015

Held in the New Law Building, The University of Sydney, with assistance from the Australian Systemic Functional Linguistics Association, 17 February 2015


  • Jim Martin: Inglés – another look
  • Clare Painter: Reflections on learning how to mean
  • David Butt: Halliday’s natural science of meaning: evolution and transactions between matter and meaning
  • Geoff Williams: Social class, melanoma, and information exchange: A social semiotic perspective
  • Fran Christie: A seminal theory of language in education
  • Christian Matthiessen: Meta-semogenesis: the growing and evolving systemic functional potential for language description

While the speakers frequently moved into a historical mode (in Professor Martin’s case, an impossible or counterfactual history), the overall register was in no way elegiac, and the research work presented was in general forward-looking. An exception to that, but highly useful and interesting to me, with no background to this beyond general knowledge, was Clare Painter’s personal history of child language development studies within systemic functional linguistics. The other sessions of most interest (while the most entertaining educationally was Martin’s ‘Inglés’) were from Professors Butt and Matthiessen: Matthiessen for the insight into his methodology, and Butt because of conceptual scope: his presentation was a development of one given to the Faculty of Human Sciences commencement students, but it certainly bore repetition.

Relevance to the study

The personal interests and histories of the presenters filled in gaps in the rough history of systemic functional linguistics of my mental map, which was beneficial in making selections of seminal readings from the literature.


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