SFL- based Analysis of Thematic Structure of the Qurʾān (19:41-50): Some Reflections

Zaid Alamiri


The present study is an endeavor to explore applying Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) to the oldest Arabic text (the Qurʾān). The study point of departure is the textual metafunction (of the Sura 19:41-50), focusing principally on thematic structure (Theme-Rheme) for its role first in organizing the linguistic resources of both the experiential and interpersonal meanings in text production; and secondly in message unfolding. The salient results are the followings:  the use of   the three types of Theme (i.e., textual, interpersonal and topical).  The topical Theme, important in message unfolding, it is essentially realized by the verbal group in the declarative clause. By virtue of verbal inflection, the bound pronominal markers, expressing Subject in Mood system and the Participant in the transitivity system, expands Theme boundary to better reflect Arabic clause structure. As to Theme orientation, the semantic aspect of Theme function , it is seen that the interaction of  the verbal-locution- projection, modalization of Theme, in particular,  and other elements contributed to the saliency of interpersonal meanings. Though the Qurʾānic Arabic, of this narrative, lends itself for SFL analysis, the results should be interpreted as an approximation that needs further studies. That Theme, in this study, is register specific is too early to consider as comprehensive analysis of Qurʾānic narrative register is required to support these results. Finally, analyzing the Qurʾānic Arabic provides a support for SFL universality; and at the same time, SFL, as a sociosemiotic linguistic theory, offers new avenues to better understand the Qurʾānic texts in many ways.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5750/bjll.v11i0.1560