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Title: Rethinking Theme and Rheme: Some Indications from a Respondent Study
Authors: Leong, A.P. 
Issue Date: 2000
Citation: Leong, A.P. (2000). Rethinking Theme and Rheme: Some Indications from a Respondent Study. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 35 : 153-178. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The functional roles of theme & rheme in the Hallidayan framework of systemic functional grammar are investigated in an exploratory acceptability study, the findings of which motivate a proposed inference boundary model that complements the systemic functional framework by reformulating theme & rheme. Undergraduate English majors at the National U of Singapore (N = 6 females & 4 males) were given cumulative sentence fragments, produced sentence completions based on each successive fragment set, made acceptability judgments, gave reasons, & corrected the sentences they judged odd by changing the first replaceable constituent. In a second task, Ss created nonsense clauses from 24 initial elements representing different theme types. Results indicate widespread agreement on repairs of odd sentences & show that only process, participant, & circumstantial thematic elements constrain the development of messages. The inference boundary model hypothesizes that the theme activates a boundary of acceptability between possible & impossible rhematic continuations in the interactive context; a procedure flouting this principle provides a useful technique for isolating the thematic portion of a clause. J. Hitchcock.
Source Title: Studia Anglica Posnaniensia
ISSN: 00816272
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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