Plenary speakers

Side view of Sydney Harbour bridge in bright blue sky.

Hailing Yu

Hailing Yu is professor at the School of Foreign Languages, Hunan University, China. Her research interests cover systemic functional linguistics, multimodal discourse analysis, translation and media studies.

  • Systemic Functional Translation Studies: The past, present and future

    In this presentation, I will trace the development of Systemic Functional Translation Studies (SFTS), a hybrid of SFL and the traditional translation studies. Firstly, attention is given to SFL scholars interested in translation studies (such as Halliday 1992, 2001, 2009; Huang 2005, 2017, Matthiessen 2001, 2014, 2017, etc.), translation scholars adopting SFL concepts and ideas (Hatim and Mason 1990, House 2001, 2014, Manfredi 2011, Munday 2000, 2012, Steiner 1998, 2004, 2015, etc.), and scholars playing an active role in both fields (Kim 2007, Kim and Huang 2012, Pagano 2014, Wu 2009, Yu 2019, etc.). The different identities of the scholars inevitably give rise to different focuses and inspirations.

    Then, on the basis of around 150 studies on SFTS published worldwide, I will examine the substantive features and methodological features of these studies. The features are presented in terms of four major research themes: general translation, genre translation, interpreting, and translation training. SFL has been widely utilized as a theoretical framework to explore translation with texts of different types, such as classic texts, literary texts, legal texts, political discourses, news reports, etc., and scholars tend to believe in the productivity of SFL as a linguistic toolkit in translator/interpreter training. The three metafunctions, ideational, interpersonal, and textual metafunctions, are all touched upon in previous studies. This helps prove SFL as appliable linguistics (Halliday 2008). Meanwhile, the close attention to language comparison, meaning equivalence and translation context by the translation scholars brings valuable feedback to SFL. Diachronic changes across the years, from Catford’s (1963) model of translation shifts to machine translation, will also be discussed.

    Finally, the academic study and teaching of SFTS in China, which I am most familiar with, will be introduced. There has been a tradition of applying SFL to translation studies with the pioneering works by Huang Guowen (2005), Chang Chenguang (2018), Zhang Meifang (2002), and others. This branch of SFTS has been further enriched by students returning to China from Australia, Singapore, the UK, and other countries/regions where SFL is studied. Nowadays it can be said that most of the Chinese universities where SFL is prominent have scholars and students engaged in SFTS. The presentation will end with some expectations and implications for future research.

    Keywords: Systemic Functional Translation Studies, translation, interpreting, China


    Chang, Chenguang. 2018. Modelling Translation as Re-instantiation. Perspectives 26 (2): 166–179.

    Chen, Shukun, Xuan, Winfred Wenhui, Yu, Hailing. 2022. Applying systemic functional linguistics in translation studies: A research synthesis. Babel 68 (4): 517-545.

    Halliday, M. A. K. Language theory and translation practice. Rivista Internazionale di Technica Della Traduzione 1992 (1): 15-25.

    Halliday, M. A. K. 2001. Towards a theory of good translation, In Steiner, E. & C. Yallop (eds.) Exploring Translation and Multilingual Text Production: Beyond Content, pp.13-18. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Halliday, M. A. K. 2009. The gloosy ganoderm:systemic functional linguistics and translation. Chinese Translators Journal (1): 17-26.

    Huang, Guowen. 2017. Searching for Metafunctional Equivalence in Translated Texts. In Jonathan Webster and Peng Alex Xuanwei (eds.) Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics: The State of The Art in China Today, 285–304. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

    Huang, Xiaocong. 2013. Transitivity in English-Chinese Literary Translation. Babel 59 (1): 93–109.

    Kim, Mira. 2007. Using Systemic Functional Text Analysis for Translator Education: An Illustration with a Focus on Textual Meaning. The Interpreter and Translator Trainer 1 (2): 223–246.

    Kim, Mira, and Zhi Huang. 2012. Theme Choices in Translation and Target Readers’ Reactions to Different Theme Choices. T&I Review 2: 79–112.

    Kim, Mira, and Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen. 2015. Ways to Move Forward in Translation Studies: A Textual Perspective. Target 27 (3): 335–350.

    Li, Zhonghua. 2013. A review of translation studies by M.A.K. Halliday[韩礼德翻译研究述评]. Journal of University of Science and Technology Beijing 29 (2): 17-23.

    Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. 2001. The environments of translation. In E. Steiner & C. Yallop (eds.). Exploring Translation and Multilingual Text Production: Beyond Content, pp. 41-124. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter,

    Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. 2014. Choice in translation: Metafunctional considerations. In K. Kunz, E. Teich, S. Hansen-Schirra, S. Neumann & Peggy Daut (eds.). Caught in the Middle—Language Use and Translation: A Festschrift for Erich Steiner on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, pp. 271-333. Saarbrücken: Saarland University Press.

    Steiner, Erich. 2005. Halliday and Translation Theory-enhancing the Options, Broadening the Range, and Keeping the Ground. In Ruqaiya Hasan, Christian Matthiessen, and Jonathan Webster (eds.). Continuing Discourse on Language: A Functional Perspective (Volume 1), 481–500. London and Oakville: Equinox.

    Wang, Bo &Ma Yuanyi. 2020. Christian Matthiessen on Translation[麦蒂森论翻译]. Foreign Languages in China (1): 85-93.

Awni Etaywe

Awni Etaywe is a lecturer in linguistics at Charles Darwin University and a researcher committed to the United Nation’s SDG 16 through his interdisciplinary research into forensic linguistics and compassion in digital activism. (The UN SDG 16 aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.)

  • Navigating compassion development in digital activism through moral affiliation enactivism

    This talk initially introduces the concept ‘compassion’ and its multifaceted nature, encompassing ethics, performance, and assessment criteria, using corpus analysis. The focus then shifts towards modelling compassion development in digital activism as moral affiliation enactivism. What is at stake here is understanding how digital texts enact affiliation (i.e. unite communities), share and urge alternative positionings, and reveal activism motivations, ethics, and “allegiance to the goals and guiding values of a particular movement” (Markham, 2016, p. 951). The moral affiliation model of analysis illustrates compassion evolution through: aligning identities; positioning the audience within shared moral fields in which actors take positions of rights and duties and engage with each other (Van Langenhove, 2017); and exhorting people towards purposeful social actions. The analysis examines texts from activist movements, such as BDS movement, shedding light on how compassion evolves as a coordinated response to wrongdoing (Sznaider, 2015) and how non-violent resistance projects’ design facilitates social change (Hughes, 2018) and counters two challenges faced by compassion discourses, ignorance of people’s suffering and compassion fatigue (Höijer, 2004). Compassion is taken as the desire/moral motivation and effort to alleviate suffering, affirming master sociocultural frames (e.g. freedom) and human rights (Sznaider, 2015; Bandura, 2016). Given that digital texts are pregnant with evaluations, a functional approach to evaluative language is crucial in discerning acts of compassion driven by moral beliefs and evaluations, which can account for motivations (cf. Kádár et al., 2019). Key (un)shared bonds, ‘communing affiliation’ tactics (Etaywe & Zappavigna, 2023), and patterns of ‘tendering’ proposals (Doran et al., forthcoming) will be unpacked as used in the ongoing process of ‘authentication’ (Bucholtz, 2003) of individual compassionate identity.

    Keywords: compassion, social media activism, communing affiliation, positioning others, alignment, framing, identity processes, stance-taking

Alison Rotha Moore

Alison Rotha Moore teaches English Language & Linguistics at the University of Wollongong. Using and critiquing SFL and related approaches, she conducts research on health discourse and on human-animal relations.

  • The Treatment of Animals in Linguistics

    1. As any first-year linguistics student can tell you, the question of whether non-human animals have language is considered asked and answered (see e.g. Bauer 2012, Fromkin et al 2021, Yule 1983/2020, which rely heavily on Hockett, e.g. 1960).
    2. Based on a meta-analysis of 40,000 farms in 119 countries and covering 40 food products that represent 90% of all that is eaten by humans, Oxford scholars Poore and Nemecek (2018: 5) suggest that one of the most significant things we could do to reduce GHG emissions is to switch to a diet that excludes animal products.
    3. Mother cows separated from calves can grieve audibly for days, signalling to humans their disagreement and distress (Adams 2018, Boyde 2018). These noises are sometimes heard as worrying by nearby human residents but within the industry cows mooing is more routinely dismissed either as not grief or as insignificant (Boyde 2018, Gaard 2013, Gillespie 2018).

    What is the connection between these statements?  What is their relevance for linguistics and social semiotics? To what extent does systemic function linguistics/semiotics offer a different approach? In the first part of this presentation I’ll discuss how linguistic and semiotic thinking has positioned animals and animality; in the second part I’ll present some critical discourse work that aims, ultimately, to transform the lives of non-human animals and their relations with us humans. 


    Adams, C. 2018. Provocations from the field, Female reproductive exploitation comes home. Animal Studies Journal 7(2): 1-8. 

    Bauer, L. 2012. Beginning Linguistics. Palgrave.

    Boyde, M. 2018. Practicing the art of war. Animal Studies Journal 7(2): 9-24.

    Fromkin, V., Rodman, R., Hyams, N. Collins, P., Amberber, M. and Cox, F. 2012. Introduction to Language. Cengage.

    Gaard, G (2013). Toward a feminist postcolonial milk studies. American Quarterly 65 (3): 595–618. Special Issue on Race, Gender, Species.

    Gillespie, K. (2018). The cow with ear tag #1389. University of Chicago.

    Hockett, C. 1960. The origin of speech. Scientific American 203(3): 88-96.‐88.

    Poore, J. and Nemecek, T. 2018. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science 360 (6392): 987-992.

    Yule, G. 2020. The study of language. Cambridge University Press.

Gillian Moss

Gillian Moss holds a PhD in Latin American Linguistic Studies from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. She is Emeritus Professor from Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, Colombia.

  • In what ways is SFL appliable in a Colombian context?

    In line with the conference theme of harmony, compassion and empowerment, this talk provides an account of roughly 30 years’ work in the application of Systemic Functional Linguistics in educational contexts in Colombia, South America, which is an educationally deprived region, even within Colombia. This work combines three aspects: research, teaching and teacher education. These three threads are closely intertwined; thus, research is education-oriented, principally ethnographic, involving classroom observation, interviews and product analysis, with some more theoretical projects, relating to the systemic description of Spanish, also having the objective of improving the didactics of reading and writing academic texts in diverse contexts. In terms of teaching, our work has focussed on the design of courses for academic literacy skills at different levels, using genre pedagogy as a principal, but not the only, methodological resource. As regards teacher education and development, this is probably the single most important thread, although in its origin it grew out of the research work. At Universidad del Norte, we offer degrees at undergraduate, postgraduate Diploma, Masters and Doctorate levels. Furthermore, our graduates have created postgraduate degrees in other universities and implemented SFL-based courses in their undergraduate initial teacher education programmes, thus spreading the influence of the theory to the whole Caribbean region of Colombia. Within the postgraduate degree courses, a significant proportion of research is oriented to the teaching of reading and writing, with a large number of projects involving the application of genre pedagogy in schools and universities in an extremely wide range of subjects. Many of these projects have met with great success and led to institution-wide application of the pedagogy. We have also been working on an in-service teacher development programme using team-teaching between Spanish (mother-tongue) teachers and teachers of other subject areas, with a view to making their use of specialist texts more rewarding.

    In the talk, I summarize the activities of these three threads and reflect on successes, obstacles and difficulties in each. I also consider the importance of ALSFAL, the Latin American Systemic Functional Linguistics Association. Finally, I attempt some evaluation of the outcomes and the way forward.

Donna R. Miller

Donna R. Miller is Alma Mater Professor at the University of Bologna. Her corpus-assisted investigations explore evaluation in institutional texts and verbal art. Recent work spotlights this last, from Hasan’s vantagepoint.

  • Empowering literature and its students: Hasan’s Systemic Socio-Semantic Stylistics and reflection literacy

    “[…] of all the applications of linguistics, that to the study of literature is potentially the most challenging and most fruitful” (Hasan 1975: 49)

    My epigraph voices a passionate belief, but a decidedly minority one. Indeed, Hasan’s own systemic functional grammar-based framework of Systemic Socio-Semantic Stylistics (SSS) (1989 [1985]) is probably the least known and/or appreciated portion of her profuse and manifold work – even in SFL stylistic circles (Miller 2021: 32 ff.), with notable exceptions. This talk moves between that framework and its foremost stimulus: her rich thought on language-in-literature literacy, and critiques the largely overlooked or underrated value of both.

    This it does, firstly, via an exploration of their theoretical conflation, which dates from Hasan’s work on her PhD thesis concerning linguistic style in literature in the early ‘60s. At this same time, she was grappling with the ways the study of verbal artistry could be taught so that students were enabled to produce self-reliant analyses independent of prevailing canonical criticism (2011b: xv). For her, the issue was of the highest importance, “socially, morally and pedagogically”, and one that is reasserted in her subsequent call for a ‘reflection’ literacy which would ambitiously offer students the means to participate in the production of valued forms of knowledge, rather than merely encourage their uncritical reproduction (1996 [2011a]).

    Self-reliance is not, however, synonymous with subjective responses based on private tastes. I show how Hasan’s arguments for a reflection verbal art pedagogy resonate with her two-fold conviction that any objective and replicable analysis of literature demands (1) a coherent public externalisation of such responses (1985 [1989]: 27) and (2) a linguistic approach, without which “the study of literature must remain a series of personal preferences, no matter how much the posture of objectivity is adopted” (1985 [1989]: 104). I contend that her Systemic Socio-Semantic Stylistics provides potent tools for such study, as well as for bringing to light just what it is that engenders this ‘special’ register’s “language that is artistic and art that is linguistic” (Hasan, pc, 15/04/2014).

    These are among the major issues this talk explores. But my claims demand evidence. Without side- stepping the analytical and educational hurdles Hasan’s model throws up, I would illuminate its power by brief illustration of its ‘challenging’ and ‘fruitful’ application via a poem on suspended dreams.



    Hasan, R. (1975). The place of stylistics in the study of verbal art. In H. Ringbom (Ed.) Style and Text, 49– 62. Amsterdam: Skriptor.

    Hasan, R. (1985 [1989]) Language, Linguistics and Verbal Art. Geelong, Vic.: Deakin University Press. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Hasan R. (1996 [2011a]). Literacy, everyday talk and society. In R. Hasan and G. Williams. Literacy in Society, 377–424. London and New York: Longman. Reprinted in R. Hasan (2011a)

    Language and education: Learning and teaching in society, Vol. 3 of The Collected Works of Ruqaiya Hasan, edited by J.J. Webster, 169–206. London: Equinox.

    Hasan, R. (2011b). A timeless journey: On the past and future of present knowledge. In Selected works of Ruqaiya Hasan on applied linguistics, xiv–xliii. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

    Miller, D.R. (2021) Verbal Art and Systemic Functional Linguistics, in the series Key Concepts in Systemic Functional Linguistics, G. O’Grady, R. Wegener and T. Bartlett (eds). Sheffield: Equinox Publishing.

Trish Weekes

Trish Weekes works with secondary schools to improve student writing in subject areas and she publishes SFL-based literacy resources. She is a specialist in the disciplinary literacies of secondary schooling.

  • Promoting educational equity and empowering subject teachers in secondary schools through Systemic Functional Linguistics and Sydney School Genre Pedagogy

    Educational linguists in the Systemic Functional community have long been motivated by compassion and the desire to address disadvantage in schooling. Since the 1980s, members of the community working with schools have shown how the SFL model of language, genre and the Teaching and Learning Cycle (Sydney School Genre Pedagogy) (Martin and Rose, 2008) can improve educational outcomes for students. Nonetheless, there is frustration in our community about why such knowledge and practices are not more widespread when the benefits are so obvious to us. A major question that is explored in this presentation is: which aspects of the SF model of language and SSGP are most empowering for secondary school teachers?

    The data on which this presentation is based comes from nine secondary schools in New South Wales, Australia. Subject teachers in these schools are participating in a three-year professional development program, Literacy in Subject Areas, based on the Systemic Functional Linguistics model of language and Sydney School Genre Pedagogy. Around 500 teachers participate in subject-based workshops four times a year, with a potential impact on 6,500 students aged from 12 to 17 years. In mid-2024, four schools have completed the three-year program and five schools are half-way through. This presentation will report on aspects of the SFL-based model of language and the Teaching and Learning Cycle that have had most traction with subject teachers and resulted in the most student growth. This presentation will include the voices of teachers in schools so we can hear directly from those on the frontline of educational change. It is hoped that insights from these experiences can inform our understanding of what it takes to make the literacy demands of secondary schooling more visible and equitable for all students.


    Martin, J. and Rose, D. (2008). Genre Relations: Mapping Culture. London: Equinox.

Elizabeth Thomson

Elizabeth Thomson is Adjunct Associate Professor of Faculty of Education at University of Wollongong. She is a SF linguist teaching and publishing in language description and education. Currently, she is the Convenor of the Special Interest Group, Semiotics of Peace, Compassion and Empathy, sponsored by ASFLA.

  • Empathic listening as a resource for enriching life: A systemic functional perspective

    We are living in an era of increasing conflict, polarisation and talk of war with adversarial kinds of discourse present in political and public debate, and media on a daily basis. As linguists we have spent time analysing how we got here through, for example, the description of the language of terrorism (Etaywe 2022), political discourse (Li, Lui & Fung 2020) and journalism (Thomson & White 2008).  We know how these discourses work to construct meanings of alienation and ‘othering’. But how do we get out of here?  How do we offer “a complementary perspective on language and semiosis which functions to make the world a better place” (Martin 2004:179)? 

    Towards this end, I am using positive discourse analysis (PDA) to identify, describe and disseminate positive discourse as a means of positive social action, “concerned with progress toward a better world” (Hughes 2018).  I want to support a transformation of public discourse from alienating to enriching mutuality; to speak and listen with an intention to connect using language which enables interpersonal connection and understanding.  The more we humanise each other, the more likely we are to act with compassion to relieve rather than create suffering (Bandura 2016:38). The process of humanising includes empathy. An effective empathic listener can shift a speaker out of pain and into a process of needs identification, which can lead to the development of strategies to meet those needs.

    As linguists, we can use our analytical skills to describe the language of harmony, compassion and empowerment.  By way of example, this paper will introduce a kind of listening which serves to offer empathy based on the premise that people typically need empathy before they are able to learn, contribute or consider another opinion.  This kind of empathic listening is a cornerstone of the communication framework, Nonviolent Communication (Rosenberg 2015:94).  This cornerstone will be described using Hasan’s Generic Structure Potential (Hasan 1996), noting semantic variation and the obligatory and optional semantic and lexicogrammatical features.  Using Appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005), it will illustrate how incongruent, institutionalised negative attitudes of judgements and appreciations are reconstrued as congruent feelings of affect (Martin and White 2005:45).  This shift in attitudinal meanings from institutionalised attitude to affect shifts the speaker from being ‘lost in the story’ to the identification of needs which are at stake and in their absence cause emotional arousal, dysregulation and pain.  The empathic listener plays a vital role in the transmutation of a speaker’s pain into action.  This transmutation is realised through choices in thematic progression (Daneš 1974) and arrangements of Given and New information (Halliday 1994:308).  This will be demonstrated using recorded dyads of empathic listening events.  The paper will show how language choices can recast alienating meanings into meanings of connection, compassion and understanding. 

    If we know which choices achieve this kind of shift, then we can teach it, share it and contribute meaningfully to making the world a safer and more harmonious and compassionate place.  What a privileged position we, linguists, have at this moment in history.


    Bandura, Albert. 2016. Moral disengagement: How people do hard and live with themselves. New York: Worth Publisher

    Daneš, Frantisek. 1974. Functional sentence perspective and the organization of the text. Prague: Academic.

    Etaywe, A 2022 Exploring the grammar of othering and antagonism as enacted in terrorist discourse: Verbal aggression in service of radicalisation. In Humanities and Social Sciences Communications. Vol 9.

    Halliday, M.A.K. 1994. An Introduction to Functional Grammar.  London: Edward Arnold

    Hasan, R 1996. The Nursery Tale as a Genre, In Cloran, Butt and Williams (eds.) Ways of Saying: Ways of Meaning, Selected Papers of Ruqaiya Hasan, London: Cassell.

    Hughes, Jessica. 2018. Progressing Positive Discourse Analysis and /in Critical Discourse Studies: Reconstructing resistance through progressive discourse analysis. Review of Communication. 18:3, 193-211.

    Li, S. Lui, L. & Fung, K. 2020. Systemic Functional Political Discourse Analysis, A text-based study, Oxon: Routledge

    Martin, James R. 2004. Positive Discourse Analysis: Power, Solidarity and Change. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 49, 179-200.

    Martin, James R. & Peter White. 2005. The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Rosenberg, Marshall. 2015. Nonviolent Communication, A language of life, 3rd ed. Encinitas: Puddle Dancer Press

    Thomson, E.A. & White, P.R.R. 2008, Communicating Conflict, Multilingual Case Studies of the News Media, London: Continuum

Gi-Hyun Shin

Gi-Hyun Shin, UNSW Sydney, is a pioneer in the field of Korean language education in Australia. His recent publications include the co-authored, Korean Grammar: An SFL Perspective (CUP).

  • Politeness Phenomena and Interpersonal Metafunction as realised in Korean: Should It Have Been the Other Way Around?

    This talk will delve into challenges, joys, and accomplishments experienced during my participation in the publication of "Korean Grammar: A Systemic Functional Perspective." As a previous Korean language academic outside of SFL communities, my focus was primarily on Pragmatics and Politeness Phenomena in Korean. Collaborating on this publication led me to concentrate more on the interpersonal metafunction, rather than the ideational and textual metafunctions.

    Outside SFL communities, “politeness phenomena" encompasses a variety of notions such as speech acts, face, implicature, terms of address, and so on. Scholars seem content identifying politeness phenomena as a subject within Pragmatics. The Korean language inherently integrates politeness phenomena across various levels, including lexical and morphosyntactic choices, ranging from honorifics to verbal suffixes used for speech levels and so-called subject honorification, along with the utilisation of diverse message structures.

    SFL offers a distinctive advantage in meticulously articulating these phenomena due to its layered conceptualisation of language strata and multi-perspectival views on language function.

    Nevertheless, challenges persist. The multifaceted origins of politeness phenomena necessitate elaborate exploration to ensure their seamless integration into the strata of SFL, especially from discourse semantics, context and beyond. In this talk, I will particularly elucidate speech acts and implicature from the standpoint of Pragmatics and explore how they can be meaningfully discussed within the SFL framework, using Korean as the reference language.