The Theme System in Functional Grammar

Essay by FahmianuraUniversity, Bachelor's November 2014

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Name : Fahmia Nur Azizah SN : 1102730 Class : Edu 6B Course : Functional Grammar


A text essentially needs to have a defined structure and correlation among its sentences and ideas. In other words, it needs to be coherent and cohesive. One system of functional grammar concerning coherence and cohesion is the Theme system (Chiasuanchong, 2011), which is the realization of the textual metafunction of language (Emilia, 2014). As stated in Emilia (2014), the Theme system is the organization of information within individual clauses, and through this, with the organization of a larger text. This system provides a point of departure by reference to which the listener (or the reader) interprets the message, since the speaker (or the writer) specifies the place in the audience's network of meanings where the message is to be incorporated as relevant (Matthiessen & Halliday, 1997). In other words, this system deals with how speakers/writers organize their message.

The Theme system is realized in a clause through two constituents: a Theme (given information) and a Rheme (new information) (see Halliday & Matthiessen, 2004; Butt, et al., 2003; Emilia, 2014). According to Eggins (cited in Xiamen, n.d.), a Theme is "the starting-point for the message, it is what the clause is going to be about". It plays an important role in orienting the readers (and listeners) to the writer/speaker's angle on the message, and to how the topic is being developed (Emilia, 2014; Castleton & Short, 2010). Meanwhile, as cited in Emilia (2014), a Rheme is "the part of the clause in which the Theme is developed or everything that is not the Theme is the Rheme". At its simplest, the Theme is the main idea and the Rheme is what we say about the main idea (Tammyta, 2008). Examples of these...