Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Education


This study sets out to explore the relationship between the grammar of the textual metafunction within Systemic Functional Grammar and the organisation of a set of Japanese selected written texts into discrete text types or genres. The study is motivated by the need for grammatical descriptions of Japanese discourse for teaching Japanese as a Second/Foreign Language. Descriptions of how Japanese organises textually, as a coherent message, are limited, with most work centred on clause level descriptions. This study looks at the resources of textual organisation above the clause.

This study investigates the proposition that in Japanese, the clause is patterned in a motivated manner in its discourse environment and that this patterning correlates with the organisation of discourse.

The theoretical resources of the Systemic Functional model of language are used to investigate these patterns above clause rank. In order to capture the organisational patterns above the clause, the study utilizes the T-unit or Theme-unit (Fries 1995c), the use of which can account for the operation of co-referential ellipsis and clause chaining in Japanese.

The corpus of this study consists of eight instances of five separate genres. The five genres are 1) the factual news commentary, 2) the hard news story, 3) the soft news story, 4) the nursery tale and 5) the narrative. Each instance is segmented into T-units. The order of the constituents within the T-units in each text is quantified. The quantitative results indicate that the choice of what is selected as first in the Tunit is significant and equates with Theme. The system of THEME as it appears in the corpus is thus described. Following the description of the system of THEME, each text in the corpus is examined for patterns which demonstrate that the choice of Theme keys into the method of development of a text and that certain configurations of Theme serve to realise the function of each of the generic stages in each text.

The description of each text begins with an examination of the generic stages. This is followed by an examination of the selection of Themes within each stage and how these collectively work to produce a particular method of development. The generic stages are then described logically in relation to each other and consideration is given to the distribution of given and new information and how these configurations also key into the method of development. The picture of each text as an instance of a particular genre is built up.

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Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.