Systemic-functional linguistics (SFL), is a study of functions and semantics which is claimed to be the basis of human language and communicative activity. As opposed to structural approaches that focuses primarily on syntax, SFL-oriented linguists begin with an exploration into social contexts and move on from there to look at how language acts upon, and is constrained and influenced by this social context.
A key concept in Halliday’s approach is the “context of situation” which obtains “through a systematic relationship between the social environment on the one hand, and the functional organization of language on the other.” (Halliday, 1985:11).
The ANALYSIS of CONTEXT is broken down into FIELD, TENOR, AND MODE. Collectively, they constitute the “register” of a text (Halliday, 1985:12).
* Field: what is happening, the nature of the social interaction taking place: what is it that the participants are engaged in, in which language figures as an essential component?
* Tenor: who is taking part; the social roles and relationships of participant, the status and roles of the participants
* Mode: the symbolic organization of the text, rhetorical modes (persuasive, expository, didactic, etc); the channel of communication, such as spoken/written, monologic/dialogic, +/- visual contact, computer-mediated communication/telephone/F2F, etc.
A brief introduction to the work of M.A.K. Halliday and Systemic-Functional Linguistics. Rretrieved 25 February from http://language.la.psu.edu/spcom497b/halliday.html
Halliday, M.A.K., & Hasan, R. (1985). Language, context, and text: aspects of language in a social-semiotic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Halliday, M.A.K. (1985). Spoken and written language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.