Hasan's semantic networks as a tool in discourse analysis

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    Semantic networks present a 'hypothesis about patterns of meaning' (Halliday, 1972[2003]): 327). Since we cannot relate behavioural options directly to grammar, semantic networks constitute a 'bridge between behavioural patterns and linguistic forms' (Halliday, 1972[2003]): 334). While Halliday's early networks were context specific, Hasan has claimed that her semantic networks are contextually open (Hasan, 1996). Some evidence for this claim can been seen in the use of semantic networks for the analysis of a broader range of research contexts beyond that in which the networks were originally developed (e.g. Chan 2005, Hall, 2004, Maley and Fahey, 1991, Hasan et al. 2007, Lukin et al. 2008). This paper provides further evidence for Hasan's claim through the analysis of one question from a current affairs interview, between the ABC's Kerry O'Brien and Australia's then Prime Minister, John Howard, under whose authority Australia troops had been committed to the 'Coalition' invasion of Iraq. I draw on existing semantic network descriptions (e.g. Hasan, 1983, 1996, forthcoming), to show how many dimensions of meaning these descriptions can currently account for. While the paper will not directly evaluate this question or interview, the elucidation of 'how meanings construe the distinctive attributes of some context' (Hasan et al, 2007: 716) would seem to be a pre-condition for evaluating a context of this kind, with respect to, for instance, whether the journalist displays behavioural patterns we might call 'adversarialness' or 'deference' (Clayman and Heritage, 2002). Such considerations are important for sociological studies concerning the inter-relations of the media and the state (e.g. Robinson, et al. 2009), particularly when the state is engaged in pursuing its interests by means which are of dubious legality under international law.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTo boldly proceed
    Subtitle of host publicationpapers from the 39th International Systemic Functional Congress
    EditorsJohn Knox
    Place of PublicationSydney
    PublisherOrganising Committee of the 39th International Systemic Functional Congress
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)9780646582573
    Publication statusPublished - 2012
    EventInternational Systemic Functional Congress (39th : 2012) - Sydney
    Duration: 16 Jul 201220 Jul 2012


    ConferenceInternational Systemic Functional Congress (39th : 2012)


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