About Dr Alice Caffarel

Dr Alice Caffarel is passionate about the study of meaning and in particular about the role of grammar in the creation and propagation of meanings. She is fascinated by the power of linguistic choice and her current research focuses on the linguistic construal of worldviews and ideologies and on how language can impact and change individuals.

Dr Caffarel is Senior Lecturer in the Department of French Studies where she has been teaching French and linguistics since 2006. She specializes in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), a theory of language as meaning potential, and has developed a Systemic Functional Grammar of French which has been applied to the teaching of French, Discourse analysis and Stylistics at the University of Sydney.

Through her research activities on French grammar within the framework of systemic functional linguistics (SFL), a theory of language as meaning potential, Dr Caffarel has become the acknowledged international expert in the field of French SFL. Her work on French grammar is unique in that it is discourse-based and provides an interpretation of grammar which reflects how French speakers/writers make meaning in various contexts of use. It has been used as a resource for analysing and interpreting French texts, providing multiple pathways for exploring how meaning (first and second-order) is construed by lexicogrammatical patterns in texts. This SF grammar of French has also been used as a model for describing new languages from a systemic perspective (see Caffarel et al., 2004). Also her initial description of French in SF terms has influenced a number of PhD theses focussing on languages other than English. Furthermore, her discourse-based approach to grammatical analysis has proved very useful and insightful in the fields of stylistics and critical discourse analysis. At the Systemic Functional Congress at Macquarie University in July 2008, she co-convened a workshop on Media discourse and the construal of ideology and contributed to a workshop on literary translation with a paper focussing on the translation of second-order semiosis in the two English translations of Camus’ L’Etranger, thus expanding the field of literary translation and stylistics within SFL. Her 2006 book, ‘A Systemic Functional Grammar of French: from grammar to discourse’ carried a foreword by Professor M.A.K. Halliday, who wrote: ‘The consistent interplay between theoretical and applied pursuits has always been a defining feature of systemic functional theory, where no clear line is drawn between application and theory and each is a souce fo positive input to the other. This kind of mutual enrichment is clearly demonstrated in Alice Caffarel’s work. The result is a description which penetrates to the heart of the language, revealing it at one and the same time as a specimen of the human semiotic and a unique resource for the continuous creation of meaning.’

Dr Caffarel's main domains of supervision are:

  • Systemic functional linguistics
  • French grammar and semantics
  • Discourse analysis
  • Register variation and semantic variation
  • Stylistics
  • Language Typology
  • Translation
  • The role and use of functional grammar in the teaching of French
  • Computer-mediated language teaching and learning

Selected publications

  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. (2009). ‘Systemic Functional Grammar and the Study of Meaning’. The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Analysis, edited by Bernd Heine and Heiko Narrog. Oxford University Press.
  • [Book] Caffarel, A. 2006/2008. A Systemic Functional Grammar of French: From grammar to discourse. London: Continuum.
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A and Rechniewski, E (2008). ‘When is a handover not a handover? A case study of ideologically opposed French News Stories’, in Thomson and White (eds), Communicating conflict: multilingual case studies of the rhetoric of the news media. Continuum: London. pp. 25-51
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 2006. ‘Learning Advanced French through SFL; Learning SFL in French’. in Byrnes, H. (ed.), Advanced Language Learning: The Contribution of Halliday and Vygotsky. Continuum: London.
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 2004. The construal of a second-order semiosis in Camus’ L'Étranger. In: D. Banks (ed.). Text and Texture: Systemic functional viewpoints on the nature and structure of text. Paris: L’Harmattan. pp. 537-570
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 2004. A metafunctional profile of French. In: A. Caffarel, J. Martin and C. Matthiessen (eds). Language Typology: A functional perspective. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. Amsterdam: Benjamins. pp. 77-137
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 2000. Interpreting French Theme as a bi-layered structure: discourse implications. In: Eija Ventola (ed.). Discourse and Community: Doing functional linguistics. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag. pp. 248-272
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 1996/1999. Approaching the French clause as a move in dialogue: interpersonal organisation. In: R. Hasan and P. Fries (eds). On Subject and Theme: A discourse functional perspective. Current issues in Linguistic theory 118. pp. 1-49
  • [Book Chapter] Caffarel, A. 1997. Models of transitivity in French, a systemic-functional interpretation. In: A.-M. Simon-Vandenbergen,  K. Davidse and D. Noël (eds). Reconnecting Language. Amsterdam: Benjamins. pp. 249-296
  • [Journal Article] Caffarel, A. 1992. Interacting between a generalized tense semantics and register-specific semantic tense systems: a bi-stratal exploration of the semantics of French tense. Language Sciences 14.4. pp. 385-418