Christian Matthiessen

Christian Matthiessen has now joined the Centre as Affiliated Member. He was part of the launch of the Halliday Centre in 2006 as a Global Partner. A Swedish-born linguist educated at Lund University and UCLA, he is a leading figure in systemic functional linguistics, having authored numerous works and co-authored a number of books with Michael Halliday, who was a close friend from 1980 to 2018. He was Chair Professor in the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University 2008-2021 and Chair Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney 2002-2008. He is now Distinguished Professor of Linguistics at Hunan University, Guest Professor at Beijing University of Science and Technology and Honorary Professor at the Australian University.

While specialised in the theoretical modelling of language in SFL, Christian has worked in areas as diverse as linguistics and computing, grammatical descriptions, grammar and discourse, healthcare communication studies, functional grammar for English-language teachers, multilingual studies (including language comparison and typology, and translation), and the evolution of language. He is an author of Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST), along with Bill Mann and Sandra Thompson. Christian’s 1,000-page Lexicogrammatical Cartography offers “the best account of the S.F. description of English based on Halliday’s work”. His co-authored book, with Michael Halliday, Construing Experience through Meaning: A language-based approach to cognition shows how to construe our experience of the world as meaning through language, presenting a complement to the knowledge-oriented conception developed within cognitive science — without invoking pre-linguistic mental fictions.

The 4 th edition of Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar (IFG) appeared in 2014, revised by Christian. The first volume of his 8 volumes of collected works was published in 2021, Systemic Functional Linguistics, Part I, edited by Kazuhiro Teruya together with Di Slade and Wu Canzhong; this volume includes a new chapter on systemic functional phonology. Three other systemic functional books will soon appear, Guide to Systemic Functional Linguistics (Routledge), co-authored with Kazuhiro Teruya; System in Systemic Functional Linguistics: a system-based theory of language (Equinox); Systemic Functional Insights on Language and Linguistics (Springer), based on interviews conducted with him by Wang Bo, Isaac N. Mwinlaaru and Ma Yuanyi.

Christian’s current projects include collaboration with Adolfo García on SFL and neurolinguistics, description of Akan and other languages spoken in West Africa with Isaac Mwinlaaru, a series of books on “systemicized” RST (which will include contributions by Kaela Zhang and Kazuhiro Teruya), systemic longitudinal studies of L2 writing with Winfred Xuan (based on his research), a multilingual version of IFG, and a book on the architecture of language according to SFL.