Publication Details

Dreyfus, S. & Jones, P. (2011). Mapping place: further delicacy in circumstantiation. In F. Yan (Eds.), Explorations in the theory and application of Systemic Functional Linguistics (pp. 1-20). Beijing: Higher Education Press of China.


This chapter reports on our work on circumstantiation in order to better understand discursive construals of place. Our experiences teaching English literacy to students from diverse backgrounds have convinced us of the explanatory power of Systemic Functional Linguistics, particularly with respect to reading English texts. This work has been greatly assisted by our familiarity with the detailed descriptions of linguistic options provided by SFL theory. As analysts and educators, we have used the grammatical tools to identify the choices taken up (or not) by writers and to support discussions of those choices and their effects on meaning. Through this work, it has become apparent that some aspects of the grammar are more finely tuned than others. In particular, we have found that the methods of identifying and describing the range of meanings associated with place or location are currently underdeveloped in SFL theory. As educators, we are interested not only in the range of meanings construed in place but also in whether or not there is an ontogenetic dimension in the occurrences of concrete and abstract places represented in texts studied by students at different ages. We begin this paper with an overview of how place is dealt with in a range of fields, with particular emphasis on SFL theory. We will then report upon our project, describing and modeling the range of meanings associated with place, as identified in a small corpus of texts from our work. Throughout the paper, our intent is to demonstrate the need for more delicate descriptions of place in order to enhance our analytic and pedagogic strategies.

Included in

Education Commons