A Transitivity Analysis of Jojo in the Ideational Metafunction of Phiri’s Ticklish Sensation

Humphrey M. Kapau, John Simwinga



This article examined the characterisation of Jojo in the ideational metafunction of Phiri’s Ticklish Sensation. This was achieved by appealing to the theoretical locale of transitivity model as espoused by Halliday (1966) in the theorisation of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). Specifically, the study explored the characterisation of Jojo in the context of four research objectives, namely, to identify process-types attributed to Jojo; identify the transitivity patterns embedded in process-types attributed to Jojo; and to establish the stylistic significance of the identified transitivity patterns in the characterisation of Jojo.  The study was mapped within the methodological frontiers of stylistics that foregrounded a quantitative and qualitative dimension to the research. Drawing from the nature of objectives, the research appealed to descriptive research design within which the qualitative approach complemented the quantitative approach. Within the qualitative and quantitative approaches, summative content analysis and descriptive statistics were used as methods for data analysis respectively. A diary and notebook were used as data collection aids because data were collected from published material namely the novel Ticklish Sensation. The data collection procedure proceeded as follows: having read the novel, characters were identified and the clauses embedding the identified characters were equally identified and isolated. The clauses associated to each character were later typed in Microsoft Excel according to process-types pending a transitivity analysis. Data analysis drew on Halliday (1971) and Simpson (2004)’s notions of transitivity profile and involved establishing the stylistic significance of the identified transitivity patterns in the characterisation of Jojo. Descriptive statistics was employed to support the qualitative discussion on characterisation of Jojo in Ticklish Sensation. The study revealed that Jojo is accorded Material Processes (MaPs), Mental Processes (MePs), Relational Processes (RePs), Verbal Processes (VePs) and Behavioural Processes (BePs) but denied Existential Processes (ExPs). The findings further indicated that Jojo is accorded a number of transitivity patterns such as use of Jojo as Actor in MaPs whose Goals are females; use of verbs of cognition, perception and affection in MePs; use of intensive RePs; and use of Quoted Verbiage in VePs. The findings revealed that the transitivity patterns attributed to Jojo are stylistically tailored to personify him as a character who is sex-obsessed, determined, sexually problematic, action-oriented and sexually undiplomatic. The implication arising from the findings is that transitivity patterns enhance characterisation. The study recommends that secondary school teachers, and college and university lecturers should apply the transitivity model as a tool in addressing characterisation in literary works.

Keywords: Characterisation, Jojo, Ticklish Sensation, Transitivity, Systemic Functional Linguistics


Characterisation, Jojo, Ticklish Sensation, Transitivity, Systemic Functional Linguistics

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