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Analyzing the grammatical patterns as manifested in the two different texts on Global Warming, and how the use of such patterns represents the ideologies and agendas of the authors of the two texts.
This analysis focuses on grammatical patterns and uses two texts on the same subject matter (Global Warming) to show how the grammatical patterns serve the purpose of representing ideologies and agendas of the authors who have presented the texts. The grammatical patterns and structure presented by an author is not just about conveying ideas but also about projecting specific ideologies or structures of thought that would evoke certain reactions. In fact the grammar and the functionalities of written material presented could play a significant role on how the semantics or meaning of the article or piece is derived and the interpretation of the written material presented is central to any understanding of sentences or ideas (Bloor et al, 2004).
The grammatical patterns and ideologies of the authors as revealed through the two tests presented show the functionalities of written text. Both the texts will be examined with Halliday's seven functions of language and other models in language such as Theme and Rheme, Transitivity and Systemic functional theory. For this study, two different texts on Global Warming are analyzed here , one dealing with myth and facts of global warming and other generally focusing on information on the topic. Both the articles are presented to provide information although one seems to give more emphasis on motivating readers to follow certain viewpoints whereas the other article is more matter of fact and less persuasive and do not seem to have definite motivational agenda for readers.
Both these articles are analyzed according to the linguistic theories and frameworks and show how one differs from the other in terms of linguistic theory, functional grammar or motivational ideologies and agendas.
The research background for this analysis examines the various relevant theories that could help explain the process of interpretation of the texts presented and provide a wider interpretation of language. Language has been defined as a systematic resource and explains and highlights meaning in contexts and linguistics studies how people are able to understand, interpret and exchange meaning through language within specific contexts. In fact linguistics can consider the context and other relevant factors before an interpretation of language is drawn. Languge may not be all a set of grammatical sentences but have more complex implications and languages within linguistic is always studied within contexts and settings. Systemic Functional or SF theory views language as a social semiotic resource that people use to express meaning in context as "The value of a theory lies in the use that can be made of it, and I have always considered a theory of language to be essentially consumer oriented" (Halliday 1985, p. 7).
Halliday's emphasis on language theory as related to consumerism and this is also true of the SF theory that shows how particular aspects of a given context define meanings expressed through the language. In fact Systemic Functional SF theory views language as a social semiotic resource that people use to accomplish and express meanings in context (Butler, 1985). Language is viewed as semiotic and described as a systematic resource and the organizing principle is the system rather than structure. A particular linguistic product is presented according to choice depending on the direction that the writer needs to portray. The three basic strata of language are the semantic, lexicogrammar, and phonological and the analysis of any linguistic product depends on the purpose of the text and its given description.
The semantic potential of linguistic products or texts is based on aspects of the context and linguistic research is based on the purpose or research objectives. The strata of language in systemic linguistics allow flexibility across research needs. Linguistic structures are natural because they express meanings in a particular context. Lexicogrammar for instance combines syntax, lexicon and morphology. Halliday argued that "grammar cannot be modeled as new sentences made out of old words a fixed stock of vocabulary in never to be repeated combination" (Halliday, 1985, p. 8). In some cases there may been be no structure at a level and probabilistic nature of language has been explained by many researchers.
The smaller units of texts are examined according to elements of lexicogrammar and phonological content and the meanings are expressed in terms of the total text in context. Halliday has suggested "For a linguist, to describe language without accounting for text is sterile; to describe text without without relating it to language is vacuous" Halliday, 1985, p. 10).
The interacting aspects of context highlight the importance of registering the actions and topics, the relationships of language use and mode of communication. When the semiotic properties are analyzed, the meanings exchanged and languages used are also are predicted. These elements are usually understood through field, tenor and mode which are the interacting aspects of context according to Halliday and these variables also tend to help the linguist in linguistic analysis of relevant contextual variables. Language acquisition helps in expression of meanings and acquiring the functions of human language. However meanings in language are analysed with lexicogrammar In fact children's acquisition and functions of their first language define communicative competence and content based learning later in life. The principles of SF and the SF theory itself could have many applications in linguistic research and could especially explain differences in motivational agendas of texts that are written to persuade as also to inform or separate myth from facts. The SF theory could be considered as a framework for interpreting these texts as well.
Another distinctive theory that could help to interpret and explain the texts is transitivity which is a property of verbs that relates to direct objects. The differences between transitive and intransitive verbs are the ability to take direct objects as throw or kicking would have direct objects but falling or standing wouldn't have direct objects. However there may be more flexible categories in interpreting transitivity (Hopper et al, 1980). Transitivity generally denotes a function because it indicates action that affects its object. Language marks transitivity through morphology and transitive and intransitive verbs would have distinct approaches and usage. Whereas an intransitive verb agrees with a subject, a transitive verb agrees with both subject and object. The distinction could be based on syntax and transitive verbs will always refer to an object which intransitive verbs do not require and intransitive verbs may sound ungrammatical. There could also be an inherent difference in meaning or a semantic difference between transitivity and intransitivity and the verbs could be presented in both ways. 'I pushed the button' to 'the button was pushed' express the same thing with different semantic content. Transitivity could express a number of associated meanings in different languages. A prototypically transitive verb involves a change of state in the object, volition of the subject, intensity of effect and the way that the transitivity of a grammatical form affects its meaning.
The other theory that could highlight the structure of any text and its essential linguistic aspects are theme and rheme. The theme of any sentence is the information or background provided whereas the focus or predication or information sought is the rheme (Harlig et al, 1988). The information provided is thus the theme in any text and the information that is sought or expected is usually the rheme and both the theme and the rheme are essential parts of a linguistic product or written material (Weigand, 1979).
Linguistic material could be thematized in many ways and in some cases themes can also be understood through contexts. However without a rheme, any sentence could be uninformative and not according to the grammatical rules of conversation. The theme is generally considered as given or known and the rheme is jut opposite of this and suggests those aspects of sentences that are not known (Chafe, 1976). Reis (1977) suggested that assertion and presupposition are not equivalent to rheme and rheme and rheme and theme analysis would mainly be about semantic and syntactic analysis of content. The stress of any sentence or the word order indicate the rheme or theme as stress is usually on the rheme and the universal laws of rheme and theme have been highlighted (Gundel 1988; Harlig and Bardovi-Harlig 1988). Rheme and theme could be applied to other sentences such as interrogatives and imperatives with emphasis on structure and comment. The usage of theme and rheme has not been adequately distinguished and the terms background, predication, focus and presupposition are use to differentiate between the two.
The attributes of SPOCA suggests the five kinds of phrases in sentences and texts and these include - verb phrase (VP), adjective phrase (AdjP), adverb phrase (AdvP) and prepositional phrase (PP). These five types of phrases are generally combined to make simple sentences or clauses and comprise of the SPOCA rule of (Subject, Predicator, Object, Complement, Adverbial) slots in those sentences and account for grammatical structures of sentences.
The methodology for this research is based on Halliday's functional theory of language as well as other theoretical frameworks and all these theories will be considered while interpreting the textual content presented by the two authors. The seven functions of language will be the foundational framework for this analysis.
Halliday (1973/1985) has identified seven functions in his functional theory of language and suggests that language has these seven functions for children in their early years. Children or anyone learning a language it seems are motivated to acquire language because it serves certain purposes or functions that are ultimately advantageous.
These functions could relate to survival or basic emotional, social, moral or physical needs or they could be instrumental, regulatory, interactional, or personal in terms of functions. Instrumental functions are suggested when a child uses language to express their needs. In regulatory functions, language is used to tell others what to do or give instructions, interactional functions are about language used for contacts and social relationships and personal functions are the functions of language that express feelings, opinions and identity (Kuno, 1972; Halliday, 1973). The other functions of language suggested by Halliday are heuristic, imaginative and representational as the child comes to terms with the environment and gains knowledge about the environment (heuristic) or imagines stories or situations within environmental contexts (imaginative) and uses language to convey information and facts (representational).
Using these basic functions of language and the two text material that are used for linguistic and discourse analysis, a report on the linguistic theoretical frameworks used will be considered. So the initial focus is on the theories and frameworks used in the two texts and the textual analysis then highlight the different functionalities on language (Bloor et al, 2004; Kuno, 1972). Apart from the theory, structure and function, the use of verbs, the semantic and syntax are important issues dealt within the context of the two texts on Global Warming. In the next two sections, the focus would be on the two different approaches to climate change and the analysis will identify the linguistic frameworks used, the functions of language that are evident, the use of transitivity and theme and rheme within these texts.
In the first article dealing with Global Warming facts exclusively, the text is presented to answer three questions considering whether it (global warming) is already happening, what is going to happen and what is climate gate. The article A is presented as facts - to answer the first question is it happening? The author suggests 'Yes. Earth is already showing many signs of worldwide climate change. 'The author further supports this statement by presenting facts such as
"Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades" - This has a heuristic element as much of the sentence provides some knowledge about the environment and is also representational as it further enhancing the facts already presented.
The author writes further that "the rate of warming is increasing". This may be purely based on the author's personal opinion and thus serves the personal functions of knowledge. This personal function and sentence is followed by further facts as the author provides representational and heuristic sentences to answer whether global warming is really happening. The author writes "The 20th century's last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia, according to a number of climate studies. And the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that 11 of the past 12 years are among the dozen warmest since 1850".
Some sentences may appear exaggerated from a linguistic point of view and would border on the imaginative For example, â€¢ Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, and the region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040 or earlier". This sentence is supported by a heuristic element "Glaciers and mountain snows are rapidly melting-for example, Montana's Glacier National Park now has only 27 glaciers, versus 150 in 1910". The facts are then followed by personal opinion and some form of representation so a mixture of personal and representational functions are considered in this sentence, "An upsurge in the amount of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves, and strong tropical storms, is also attributed in part to climate changeâ€¦.humans have caused all or most of the current planetary warming. Human-caused global warming is often called anthropogenic climate change". These statements are supported by evidence and facts through representational information and the author writes that "Industrialization, deforestation, and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth's surface".
In the latter part of this question the author however engages in a form of generalization and the next sentence seems to serve all three elements or functions of personal opinion, heuristic knowledge and imaginative functions, as the author writes "Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it". The final few sentences are both opinion and imaginative as there are imaginative elements, opinions, and heuristic knowledge because the author is mainly being predictive or speculative about the future of global warming- "These gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming".
In fact the next part of the analysis 'What's going to happen is largely based on speculation and has a mix of imaginative and personal functions as the author suggested, "Sea level could rise between 7 and 23 inches (18 to 59 centimeters) by century's end, the IPCC's February 2007 report projects" "Some hundred million people live within 3 feet (1 meter) of mean sea level, and much of the world's population is concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities. "Glaciers around the world could melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water". "Strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters may become commonplace in many parts of the world. The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places" "The ocean's circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, could be permanently altered, causing a mini-ice age in Western Europe and other rapid changes. "At some point in the future, warming could become uncontrollable". This last sentence also suggests imaginative elements in the language function although backed later by representational data. The author of this first article also discusses climate and speaks about an event in which "hackers unearthed hundreds of emails at the U.K.'s University of East Anglia that exposed private conversations among top-level British and U.S. climate scientists" and asks who these hackers were? Were they skeptics? The data on climate change as completely real and all attempts to downplay such information is the work of skeptics and idiots and this has been highlighted in a series of sentences that merges personal functions of language through opinions and representational function through facts and findings.
The second text on Global warming Myths and facts, shows the distinction between statements or opinions that are refuted with facts and heuristic functional elements. For example the author presents the first statement "Planet earth is currently undergoing global warming" as a myth based on personal opinion and presents the facts as "Accurate and representative temperature measurements from satellites and balloons show that the planet has cooled significantly in the last two or three years, losing in only 18 months 15% of the claimed warming which took over 100 years to appear". The myths are here presented as personal opinions or even imaginative statements and the facts are heuristic and representational providing true or correct knowledge.
Another sentence reads "Even slight temperature rises are disastrous, ice caps will melt, people will die" and this is quickly refuted with facts "In the UK, every mild winter saves 20,000 cold-related deaths, and scaled up over northern Europe mild winters save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, also parts of ice caps are melting yet other parts are thickening but this isn't reported as much (home experiment: put some water in a jug or bowl, add a layer of ice cubes and mark the level - wait until the ice has melted and look again, the level will have fallen)."
The style in which this paper has been presented also suggests that the author has been persuasive and used instructional language to sway or shape public opinion. Another sentence presented as myth is as follows "Carbon Dioxide levels in our atmosphere at the moment are unprecedented (high)." The fact is quickly given as "Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, currently only 350 parts per million have been over 18 times higher in the past". There are other similar sentences presented as mythgs such as "Carbon dioxide changes in the atmosphere cause temperature changes on the earth" and "Reducing car use will cut carbon dioxide levels and save the planet". These very generalized personal opinions of the public are refuted with heuristic and representational functions with statements such as "A report in the journal 'Science' in January of this year showed using information from ice cores with high time resolution that since the last ice age, every time when the temperature and carbon dioxide levels have shifted, the carbon dioxide change happened AFTER the temperature change" as also statements like "The planet does not need saving, but taking this on anyway, removing every car from every road in every country overnight would NOT produce any change in the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere".
Discussion and Conclusion
In the material presented and analyzed, the second text which seems to distinguish myth and facts and provide strong evidence of facts against the myths makes use of representational, heuristic and instructional functions whereas myths seem to be based on imaginative functions along with personal opinions. The instructional element of language present in the second article on Global warming clearly distinguishes it from the first and the author of the second clearly persuades the reader to distinguish between myths and facts so the second textual presentation could be in fact more effect as far as its linguistic power is concerned.
The two texts can also be analyzed with the rheme and theme elements with rheme being the focus and the theme being the background or context. Theme is about what we already know and rheme is what we suppose or have to find out. In this sense, the first text provides themes as questions and rhemes as facts whereas the second text provides the theme as myths and the rheme as facts. So even if both the texts can be explained with the Rheme-Theme distinction and Halliday's seven functions of language, they do seem to serve different purposes and whereas the first text was based according to the motivational agenda of informing readers about climate change, the second linguistic structure seems to emphasize on persuasion as the author was motivated to persuade readers through portrayal of certain myths and facts.