Halliday (1978) – Language as Social Semiotic

”The formulation ’language as social semiotic’ says very little by itself … it belongs to a particular conceptual framework, and is intended to suggest particular interpretation of language within that framework ” (Halliday, 1978, p. 1)

“There are to fundamental aspects to the social reality that is encoded in language … Language expresses and symbolizes … dual aspect in its semantic system … organized sound the twin motifs of reflection and action – language as a means of reflecting on things, and language as a means of acting on things. The former is the ’ideational’ component of meaning; the latter is the ’interpersonal’ – one can act symbolically only on persons, not on objects” (Halliday, 1978, p. 2).

Halliday (1978) derives his perspective ”from the ethnographic-descriptive tradition in linguistics: from Saussure and Hjelmslev, from Mathesius and the Prague school, from Malinowski and Firth, brom Boas, Sapir and Whorf” (Halliday, 1978, p. 5). As to socio-linguistics Halliday refers to Labov.


Halliday, M.A.K. (1978). Language as Social semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. London: Edward Arnold.


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