Theme and variations

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There has been a great deal of interest recently in investigating the configurationsof linguistic choices which characterise different registers. This chapterfocuses on the particular area of patterns of thematic choice across registers.We bring together two traditions in register analysis: Systemic FunctionalLinguistics, and Corpus Linguistics as implemented by Biber and colleagues.We carry out a manual analysis of Theme, using SFL categories, in a small setof texts designed to mirror the registers which appear at key points on Biber’sDimension 1 (“Involved versus Informational Production”). The goal is to seeto what extent variation in thematic patterning accords with the positioningon Biber’s scale; and we attempt to account for any similarities and differencesthat emerge.


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