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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 35, Issue 4


Thematic choice and progression in English and Chinese radio news texts: a systemic functional analysis

Lijin Liu
  • Corresponding author
  • Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China
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/ Gordon Tucker
Published Online: 2015-06-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2015-0008


This paper reports on a comparative study of thematic choice and progression in English and Chinese radio news texts, conducted within the systemic functional theory of Theme–Rheme (Halliday and Matthiessen 2004) and the thematic progression model evolving from Daneš’s work in the 1970s. It is suggested, following a detailed analysis of a corpus of sixty English and Chinese texts, that there are some similarities and disparities in structuring thematic information between the two languages. Overall, the key differences identified are that the English news tends to have a greater incidence of textual, and thus, multiple Themes, whereas the Chinese news tends to allow elliptical participants and circumstantial elements to be thematized more frequently. Such differences can be attributable to the distinctions in grammatical structure across the languages.

Keywords: theme choice; thematic progression; radio news; English and Chinese; textual Theme; elliptical Theme


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About the article

Lijin Liu

Lijin Liu received his PhD in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics fromShanghai International Studies University and is Professor in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research interests include discourse analysis, pragmatics, systemic functional linguistics, and cognitive linguistics. His recent publications include The Pragmatics of Logophoricity (2012) and “A typological study of motion events in modern Chinese” (2014, Chinese Teaching in the World, 3).

Gordon Tucker

Dr. Gordon Tucker was formerly senior lecturer in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University. Since his retirement he has retained an affiliation with Cardiff University. He is the co-developer, along with Professor Robin Fawcett, of the systemic functional model of language known as the Cardiff Grammar. He is author of The lexicogrammar of adjectives: A systemic functional approach to lexis (Cassell Academic 1998) and has published over forty journal articles and book chapters.

Published Online: 2015-06-13

Published in Print: 2015-07-01

Funding: The research is supported by the Social Science Funds Project of the Ministry of Education of China (No. 13YJA740033).

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 481–504, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2015-0008.

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