Time in discourse


  • Theo van Leeuwen University of Technology, Sydney




Discourse, Time, Socio-semantics, Social Practice, Time Summons, Synchronisation, Punctuality, Subjective Duration, Time Management


The paper presents a systemic functional description of English discursive resources for representing and regulating the timing of social practices. Four key categories are distinguished: the time summons, which imposes timing on social activities by decree; social synchronisation, in which the timing of social activities is synchronised with the timing of other social activities; natural synchronisation, in which the timing of social activities is synchronised with the timing of natural events; and mechanical synchronisation, in which the timing of social activities is synchronised with the timing of artificially created events. A number of more delicate categories and other aspects of timing are discussed, together with their realisations. Two texts are analysed to demonstrate the utility of this descriptive framework for the critical discourse analysis of texts in which the management of time is a key issue.

Author Biography

Theo van Leeuwen, University of Technology, Sydney

Professor Theo van Leeuwen, Dean, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney


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How to Cite

van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Time in discourse. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 1(1), 127–145. https://doi.org/10.1558/lhs.2005.1.1.127