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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 33, Issue 4-5


Systemic functional linguistics, corpus linguistics, and the ideology of science

Susan Hunston
Published Online: 2013-08-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0028


This paper considers the relationship between research using systemic functional linguistics and research of the kind referred to as corpus linguistics, specifically in a study of ideology in a popular science text. The paper argues that ideas in SFL and corpus linguistics may be regarded as parallel (register), divergent (grammar and phraseology), and complementary (lexis and taxonomy). Following a review of research in these areas, the paper presents a case study of evaluation of status in a popular science book (The Rough Guide to Evolution). “Status” draws on the grammatical concept of projection and on a set of lexis and phraseologies. The interaction between grammatical choice and lexical choice is quantified. It is argued that particular combinations of lexis and grammar are preferred when knowledge is presented as in the process of formation, and other combinations are preferred when knowledge is presented as in a state of completion. The case study reveals that concepts drawn from a systemic functional view of grammar and from a corpus linguistic view of phraseology are usefully combined in studying ideology.

Keywords: systemic functional linguistics; corpus linguistics; popular science; epistemic status; ideology

About the article

Susan Hunston

Susan Hunston is Professor of English Language at the University of Birmingham. She has previously held posts at Mindanao State University, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Surrey. She has published books and articles on corpus linguistics, on the lexis–grammar interface, and on the language of evaluation. Her most recent book is Corpus Approaches to Evaluation: Phraseology and Evaluative Language (Routledge, 2011). Address for correspondence: Department of English, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2013-08-27

Published in Print: 2013-08-19

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 4-5, Pages 617–640, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0028.

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