China Association of Functional Linguistics and its Activities


A brief description


The China Association of Functional Linguistics was founded in 1995. Its Chairman has been Professor Hu Zhuanglin of Peking University, and its vice-chairmen are Zhu Yongsheng of Fudan University, Ren Shaozeng of Zhejiang University, Fang Yan of Tsinghua University, Zhang Delu of China (Qingdao) Ocean University, Huang Guowen of Sun Yat-sen University, and Yang Zhong of Northeast Normal University. There are also a number of office-holders in different parts of the country, and the association has over 100 active members, most of whom are teachers of English and/or linguistics at various institutions of higher education.  At the eighth conference in Yanshan University, Professor Hu Zhuanglin insisted that someone else be the Chairman of the China Functional Linguistics Association, and after discussion among the executive members of the Association it was decided that Professor Hu Zhuanglin be the Honorary Chairman and Professor Huang Guowen of Sun Yat-sen University the new Chairman.


Since 1989, a Chinese national conference on Systemic Functional Linguistics has been held every second year. The first conference, with the theme of ‘Language System and Function’, was held at Peking University in August 1989, with 39 participants coming from 25 institutions of higher education in China.  The second had the theme ‘Language, Text, Context’; the third ‘Language, System, Structure’, the fourth, ‘Advances in Functional Linguistics in China’, and the fifth ‘Language Functions: System, Cognition and Pragmatic Principles’. These first five conferences were held respectively in Suzhou University (1991), Hangzhou University (1993), Peking University (1995), and Chongqing University (1997).  The sixth and the seventh conferences were held respectively in Fudan University (Shanghai) in 1999, and Northeast Normal University (Changchun) in 2001. The eighth conference was held in Yanshan University in Hebei Province in 2003.  The ninth national conference will be hosted by Henan University in Kaifeng (Henan Province) in 2005.


In addition to the national conference on Systemic Functional Linguistics, groups of linguists regularly attend another conference on discourse analysis, whose theoretical underpinnings are basically derived from Systemic Functional Linguistics. The two conferences are held in alternate years, which thus means that many of the most eminent scholars in the field of Systemic Functional Linguistics meet formally at least once a year.  In October 1997, the fifth conference on discourse analysis was merged with the International Conference on Discourse Analysis, organized by the University of Macau and Tsinghua University, and the sixth one was again merged with the International Conference on Discourse and Language Functions organized by Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University.  The seventh conference was held in Xiangtan Teachers College (Hunan) in 2000, the eighth conference on discourse analysis was held in Suzhou University in 2002, and the ninth conference will be hosted by Shandong in 2004.


Related to the national Functional Conference and the Discourse Analysis Conference are the Systemics Weeks, initiated by Sun Yat-sen University.  In December 2001 Sun Yat-sen University organized the First Systemics Week, whose invited speakers included Professor J.R. Martin of the University of Sydney, who gave five three-hour long talks on ‘Working with discourse: meaning beyond the clause’, and Dr Mohsen Ghadessy (Foreign Expert of Functional Linguistics at Sun Yat-sen University), who gave two talks on the use of Systemic Functional Linguistics in translation studies.  Three Chinese scholars (Professor Huang Guowen, Professor Zhang Delu and Professor Zhang Meifang) also gave talks on Systemic Functional Linguistics and/or translation studies within the Hallidayan framework.  The Second Systemics Week was held in 2003, with Professor Paul John Thibault of the University of Venice as the main speaker; his lectures were concerned with topics such as “Body, brain and meaning-making”,Language, multimodality, and discourse” and “Activity and the diverse time-scales of semiosis”.  Other speakers included Dr Mohsen Ghadessy, Professor Huang Guowen and Professor Zhang Meifang.  The Third Systemics Week was co-organized by the School of Foreifn Languages, Sun Yat-sen University and the Department of Chinese, Linguistics and Translation of the City University of Hong Kong and was held in April 2003 in Guangzhou, and the main speakers are Professor M.A.K. Halliday and Professor Ruqaiya Hasan, who were at Sun Yat-sen University for a month during March and April, when the world was experiencing the SARS situation.  Other speakers included Dr Graham Lock of the City University of Hong Kong, Professor Yang Xinzhang of Xiamen University and Professor Huang Guowen. The Fourth Systemics Week will be co-organized by Xiamen University and Sun Yat-sen University and will be hosted at Xiamen University on March 29 – April 29.  Invited speakers include Professor M.A.K. Halliday, and Professor Ruqaiya Hasan.


For more information on the Systemic Functional activities in China, please read ‘Hallidayan linguistics in China’ (by Huang Guowen), World Englishes, 2002, pp.281-290. and visit