Transitivity Analysis of Kenya Supreme Court Judgements on Election Petitions and Civil Cases

International Journal of Humanities and Social Science
© 2022 by SSRG - IJHSS Journal
Volume 9 Issue 3
Year of Publication : 2022
Authors : Elijah Chege Ndumia, Christine Atieno
How to Cite?

Elijah Chege Ndumia, Christine Atieno, "Transitivity Analysis of Kenya Supreme Court Judgements on Election Petitions and Civil Cases," SSRG International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 9,  no. 3, pp. 100-107, 2022. Crossref,


Transitivity analysis provides an efficient model for studying processes and participants in discourse. This is crucial in revealing the clauses' nature and motivation for different actions. Various studies have been conducted on political, media, and classroom discourse transitivity. However, the legal discourse has not been sufficiently addressed in transitivity studies. This study examined the role of transitivity in a legal discourse focusing on the special grammatical features meant to enhance seriousness, precision, and longevity. The study undertook a functional-linguistic analysis of Kenya Supreme Court judgments on election petitions and civil cases, intending to examine the transitivity processes used and their contribution to discourse meaning. Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics theory guided the study. Various transitivity processes were explored. These processes include behavioural, mental, verbal, material, relational, and existential. This study established that the processes were used in the judgments to index the cognitive, objective, dialogic, and referential aspects of legal discourse.


Transitivity, Legal discourse, Transitivity processes, Cognitive function, Dialogic function, Referential function.


[1] Comfort Anafo, and Richmond Ngula, “On the Grammar of Scam: Transitivity, Manipulation and Deception in Scam emails,” Word, vol. 66, no. 1, pp. 16-39, 2020. Crossref,
[2] Patricia Canning , Functional Stylistics, The Routledge handbook of stylistics, 2014. Crossref,
[3] Laya Heidari Darani, “Persuasive Style and its Realization Through Transitivity Analysis: A SFL Perspective,” Procedia-Social & Behavioural Sciences, vol. 158, no. 1, pp. 179-186, 2014. Crossref,
[4] Downing A, English Grammar, London: Routledge, 2006.
[5] Signe Oksefjell Ebeling , “To Score or to Score a Goal: Transitivity in Football Match Reports,” English Studies, vol. 102, no. 2, pp. 243-266, 2021. Crossref,
[6] Eggins S, An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics, London: Continuum, 2004. 
[7] Fowler R, Language in the News: Discourse and Ideology in the Press, London: Routledge, 1991.
[8] Halliday M.A.K, An Introduction to Functional Grammar, 2 nd edition London:Edward Arnold, 1994.
[9] Halliday M.A.K, An Introduction to Functional Grammar, 3 rd edition London: Edward Arnold, 2004.
[10] Halliday M.A.K, An Introduction to Functional Grammar,”4 th edition London: Edward Arnold, 2014.
[11] Juan Li, “Collision of Language in News Discourse: A Functional Cognitive Perspective on Transitivity,” Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 203-219, 2011. Crossref,
[12] Kress G. Halliday, System and Function in Language, Oxford University Press, 1976.
[13] David Machin, and Andrea Meyer , “Personalizing Crime and Crime Fighting in Factual Television, an Analysis of Social Actors and Transitivity in Language and Images,” Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 356-372, 2013. Crossref,
[14] Peter M. Matu, “Transitivity as a Tool for Ideological Analysis,” Journal of Third World Studies, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 199-211, 2008. [Online]. Available:
[15] Amina Megheirbi, “Transitivity and the Construction of Characters in the Narrative Discourse of English Patient,” International Journal of Arabic English Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 61-71, 2010.
[16] Tom Miller , Functional Approaches to Written Text: Classroom Applications, United States Information Agency, 1997.
[17] Isaac N. Mwinlauru, and Mark Nartey, “Free Men we Stand Under the Flag of our Land: A Transitivity Analysis of African Anthems as Discourses of Resistance Against Colonialism,” Critical Discourse Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 180-210, 2021. Crossref,
[18] Hanh Thu Nguyen, “Transitivity Analysis of ‘Heroic Mother’ by Hoa Pham,” International Journal of English Linguistics, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 85-100, 2012. Crossref,
[19] Thompson G, Introducing Functional Grammar, London & Newyork: Routledge, 2014.
[20] Sita Hediyati Rahayu, and Efransyan B, “Transitivity in the Tenth Grade Students' Recount Texts,” Professional Journal of English Education, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 401-407, 2020. Crossref,
[21] Simpson P, Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students, London: Routledge, 2004.
[22] Toolan M, Narrative Progressions in the Short Story: A Corpus Stylistics Approach, NewYork: John-Benjamins, 2009.
[23] Junling Wang , “A Critical Discourse Analysis of Barak Obama's Speeches,” Journal of Language Teaching and Research, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 254-261, 2010. Crossref,
[24] Hengbin Yan, “Automatic Labelling of Transitivity Functional Roles,” Journal of World Languages, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 157-170, 2014. Crossref,
[25] Zhang Li, and Zixum Gao, “Transitivity Analysis of the Protagonist Identity Construction in 'Never Let Me Go' From the Perspective of Functional Grammar,” East African Scholars' Journal of Education Humanities and Literature, vol. 2, no. 7, pp. 287-290, 2020. Crossref,