Christian Matthias Ingemar Martin Matthiessen is a Swedish-born linguist and a leading figure in the systemic functional linguistics (SFL) school, having authored or co-authored more than 100 books, refereed journal articles, and papers in refereed conference proceedings, with contributions to three television programs. A major work is his Lexicogrammatical cartography, published in 1995—a 700-page study of the grammatical systems of English from the perspective of SFL. He has co-authored a number of books with Michael Halliday. As of 2008, he is Professor in the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Before this, he was Chair of the Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University in Sydney.
Matthiessen was born and raised in Sweden. His mother, Christine Matthiessen, is credited with starting his interest in language as an object of study. His father, Martin Edmond, was a painter. Matthiessen completed his undergraduate degree at Lund University in 1980. His Master of Arts was taken at UCLA. His Masters dissertation was on tense in English. He then completed a PhD, also at UCLA, in 1989. His PhD was titled Text generation as a linguistic research task. While studying at UCLA, he worked first as a teaching assistant at UCLA. From 1980 to 1983, he was a research assistant at the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California. In 1983 he took a position as research linguist at the Instituted, where he worked on the application and development of systemic theory and descriptions for text generation, including the maintenance and expansion of a systemic grammar of English for text generation. It was during this time that he worked with Bill Mann and Sandra Thompson in the development of Rhetorical Structure Theory. In 1988 he moved to the University of Sydney, where he was Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer until 1994. During this period he worked on multilanguage generation, speech generation, English grammar, semantics and discourse, and systemic functional theory. In 1994 he moved to Macquarie University's Department of Linguistic, first as Associate Professor. In 2002 he became Chair Professor, and stayed at Macquarie until 2008, when he was appointed Chair and Head of the Department of English at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. From 2009 to mid-2012, he was also Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at PolyU. Since May 2011, he has been Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University, Beijing, and Guest Professor at the University of Science and Technology, Beijing.
Contributions to linguistics
Matthiessen has worked in areas as diverse as language typology, linguistics and computing, grammatical descriptions, grammar and discourse, functional grammar for English-language teachers, text analysis and translation, the evolution of language. He is an author of Rhetorical Structure Theory, along with Bill Mann and Sandra Thompson. Matthiessen'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 a linguistic/semiotic approach to cognition without invoking pre-linguistic mental fictions.
- Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (1995) Lexicogrammatical cartography: English systems, Tokyo, International Language Sciences Publishers
- Halliday M.A.K., Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (2000) Construing experience through meaning: a language-based approach to cognition, Open linguistics series, Continuum International
- Matthiessen C.M.I.M., Caffarel A., Martin J.R. (2004) Language typology: a functional perspective, Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series IV: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory, 700 pp.
- Halliday, M.A.K., Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar, 3rd ed. London, Arnold
- Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (2004) "Descriptive motifs and generalisations". In A. Caffarel, J.R. Martin, C.M.I.M. Matthiessen (eds.), Language typology. A functional perspective (pp. 537–64). Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins
- Martin J.R., Painter C., Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (2006) Working with functional grammar, Hodder Arnold Publication, 340 pp.
- Matthiessen C.M.I.M., Halliday M.A.K. (2009) Systemic functional grammar: a first step into the theory, Higher Education Press
- List of publications
- Staff page, HK Polytechnic University
- Matthiessen C.M.I.M. (1995) Lexicogrammatical cartography: English systems, Tokyo, International Language Sciences Publishers. p. vii
- Butt, D. 2001. Firth, Halliday and the development of systemic functional theory. In Auroux, S, Koerner, E.F.K., Niederehe, H., Versteegh, K. (eds). History of the Language Sciences, Volume 2. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. p1831.
- "Language evolving: Notes towards a semiotic history of humanity": Webcast by Christian Matthiessen at UBC as part of the plenary session at the 37th International Systemic Functional Congress, June 2012.