Behavioural Processes 1

Behavioural processes construe “(typically human) physiological and psychological behaviour, like breathing, coughing, smiling, dreaming and staring” (H & M, p248). The participant who is ‘behaving’, typically a conscious being, is labelled the behaver (H & M, p250).

I’ve noticed that in some ESL teaching behavioural Processes are often lumped in with material ones. This does make it easier for students, but it may also be slightly misleading. Characteristically, behavioural clauses are partly material (the unmarked tense is the present-in-present) but also partly mental (we do find non-habitual present tense – Why do you laugh?). I think also for students it’s important to point out that “certain types of circumstance are associated with behavioural processes” (H & M, p251). Here is an example from the BNC:

   1284 Stok looked at me blankly — still listening through the wall — and nodded

Students will often interpret the Circumstance as Goal, producing *He looked me. A simple way to introduce this is using a picture of a party and describing the varous behaviours and the associated Circumstances.


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