The ideational metafunction
One of the things that language enables us to do is construct representations of ‘what goes on in the world’. The linguistic resources for doing this include lexis, which provides the terms that ‘stand for’ the ‘participants’, the people, places and things in the world, and the system of transitivity, which enables us to create different relations between these participants — if, for instance, you have the participants ‘man’ and ‘tree’, you can make ‘man’ the ‘actor’ of an action (‘the man chops the tree down’) or ‘tree’ (‘the tree shades the man’), you might also have a ‘reaction’ instead of an ‘action’ (‘the man loves the tree’) and so on.
The interpersonal metafunction
The interpersonal metafunction is the function of constituting and enacting relations between the people involved in a communicative event, of using language to do things to, or for or with other people. The linguistic resources for doing this include the system of person, with which you can create solidarity (‘we’), or exclude others (‘us’ and ‘them’ language) and so on, and the system of mood, with which you can make statements (declarative), ask questions (interrogative), tell people to do things (imperative) and so on.
The textual metafunction
The textual metafunction is the function of marshalling the combined representations and interactions into the kind of wholes we call ‘texts’ or ‘communicative events’. The linguistic resources for this include the ‘given/new’ system with which you can make new information flow from already shared information, and various resources for creating cohesion in text, for making text ‘hang together’.
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