Shimazumi, Marilisa
University of Liverpool

Marilisa Shimazumi
15 Lancaster Ave
Liverpool L17 3AY

c/o Tony Berber Sardinha

Strand: discourse English

Title: Institutional Interactions from a Transitivity Perspective

This paper reports a study recently carried out which investigated communication in institutional contexts involving the expert (Knower) and the client (Informant) from a transitivity perspective. Its aim was to investigate the effect of Tenor relationship on transitivity.

This study claims to be original in two ways: firstly, it attempted to investigate how role relations of power can be constructed and reflected in language by the grammatical system of transitivity, and secondly, it applied transitivity analysis to spoken discourse.

The data consist of 10 authentic dialogues (22,160 words/3,213 processes) which were extracted from the British National Corpus. These texts received a statistical treatment and they were also analysed qualitatively.

One major finding was that although both interactants did not differ in terms of `use' of specific processes, they differed in terms of `role projections' which includes, for instance, those cases where the Knower was projected as being involved in more agentive roles.

Overall, the findings suggest that differences in role relations of power can be reflected in the specific transitivity choices of both interactants. It is through these choices that interactants tended to reflect their view of their unequal roles. In addition, the study discusses to what extent these findings contribute to the field of systemic linguistics by providing evidence that role relations of power, which are traditionally confined to the interpersonal metafunction, seem to be reflected by choices commonly perceived within the experiential metafunction through the grammatical system of transitivity.