Transitivity Analysis of Taylor Swift’s Lyrics in Midnights Album

Keywords: Midnights, song lyrics, stylistics, Taylor Swif, transitivity


The research analyzes 20 songs in Midnights (3 a.m. version), a record-breaking album by Taylor Swift using Halliday’s transitivity framework and Simpson’s stylistic approach to the lyrics that are regarded as a form of verbal play. The objective is to prove that the transitivity choice is stylized for supporting the theme building of songs in Taylor Swift’s Midnights album. The transitivity analysis is taken as the tool to reveal the mind style impregnated in the lyric texts. Three dominant types of processes found are the human experience of the external world (material 41,09%), the internal world of consciousness (mental 16,89%), and the identification and classification to relate one aspect of the experience to another (relational 29,11%). These three dominant proccesses build the ideational meaning of the music album which reflects the songwriter’s view of the world. The songs are found to be taking four subjects of experience which are being in love, being in a bitter relationship, facing self-contempt, and scheming revenge. Such construe of the world is represented by the transitivity processes found in song lyrics enunciating one’s outlook on reality through song lyrics. The findings of the result are contributive to English learners who have an interest in examining texts of popular culture.

Author Biography

Jonathan Irene Sartika Dewi Max, Mulawarman University

Researcher and lecturer in English Literature Department of CSF, Mulawarman University, Samarinda, East Borneo


Abdul-Jabbar, F., Al-Manaseer, & Noori, S. N. (2023). Women’s Empowerment and Confidence in Pop Music: A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Little Mix’s Lyric Song “Change Your Life.” Lark Journal, 7(1), 972–991.
Appen, R. V, Doehring, A., & Moore, A. F. (2016). Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Musik (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series (1st ed.). Routledge.
Assidiqi SP, M. F., & Cahyono, S. P. (2023). Appraisal Analysis on The Album Midnights: Graduation System Analysis. English Language & Literature International Conference, 281–292.
BaileyShea, M. (2021). Lines and Lyrics: An Introduction to Poetry and Song. Yale Univeristy Press.
Cesaric, C. (2022). How Many Grammys Does Taylor Swift Have? A Look at Her Wins Ahead of the 2022 Ceremony. NBC New York.
Cigliano, O. (2022). 85 Taylor Swift “Midnights” Lyrics for Haunting Instagram Captions. Elite Daily.
Driessen, S. (2022). Campaign Problems: How Fans React to Taylor Swift’s Controversial Political Awakening. American Behavioral Scientist, 66(8), 1060–1074.
Eggins, S. (2004). An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics. Continuum.
Fatikha, A. R., & Masykuroh, Q. (2022). Figurative Language in Selected Songs Of “Red” By Taylor Swift. Language Literacy: Journal of Linguistics, Literature, and Language Teaching, 6(2), 299–308.
Forney, K., Dell’Antonio, A., & Machlis, J. (2022). The Enjoyment of Music. In The Musical Times (14th ed., Vol. 100, Issue 1392). W. W. Norton & Company.
Frida, K. Y., & Zuraida, I. (2022). Metaphor in The Folklore Album by Taylor Swift: A Semantics Study. Ethical Lingua: Journal of Language Teaching and Literature, 9(2), 610–618.
Gracyk, T. (2022). Making Meaning in Popular Song: Philosophical Essays. Bloomsbury Academic.
Guo, Y. (2022). Transitivity Analysis of Chinese Leader’s New Year Greeting in 2021 Based on the Systemic Functional Grammar. Journal of Higher Education Research, 3(3), 319–322.
Halliday, M. A. K. (2013). Meaning as Choice. In L. Fontaine, T. Tom, & T. O’Grady (Eds.), Systemic Functional Linguistics: Exploring Choice (pp. 15–36). Cambridge University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. (2014). Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar (4th ed.). Routledge.
Harrison, C., & Ringrow, H. (2022). Disnarration and the performance of storytelling in Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore. International Journal of Literary Linguistics, 11(1).
Hasan, R. (2013). Choice, System, Realisation: Describing Language as Meaning Potential. In L. Fontaine, T. Tom, & T. O’Grady (Eds.), Systemic Functional Linguistics: Exploring (pp. 260–299). Cambridge University Press.
Hudson, A. (2022). Taylor Swift: A Life in Music. Flame Tree.
Jeet, U. (2023). Language in. Language in India, 5, 100–118.
Jennings, R., Tarlo, S., & Fernandez, G. (2022). Taylor Swift’s Midnights album: What do all the lyrics mean? Voc.Com.
Jensen, K. E. (2015). A Journey Through the Stylistics of Poetry. Globe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication, 216–220.
Kendong, F. A., Daud, A. S., & Joharry, S. A. (2023). A Corpus-driven Analysis of Taylor Swift’s Song Lyrics. International Journal of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 59–82.
Ma’yuuf, H. H., & Hassan, A. F. (2022). A Systematic Functional Linguistic Approach of Political Racist Speeches Against Immigration. Humanitarian and Natural Sciences Journal, 3(12), 451–463.
Max, J. I. S. D. (2022). Rainbow: Journal of Literature, Linguistics and Culture Studies. Three Speakers’ Perspectives on Experience in Taylor Swift’s Selected Lyrics from Folklore Album, 11(1), 11–18.
Max, J. I. S. D, & Zamruddin, M. P. (2020). Lack of Actor in the State Address of Indonesian President on the 74th Indonesia Independence Day. Journal of Language and Literature, 20(2), 231–241.
Max, J. I. S. D. (2022). Mythical Car: Metonymy in Taylor Swift’s Song Lyrics. Celtic: A Journal of Culture, English Language Teaching, Literature and Linguistics, 9(2), 219–235.
Max, J. I. S. D, Sudirman, E. P., Rahayu, F. E. S., & Nugroho, B. A. (2023). Discourse in Billboard Woman of the Decade Award: An Actantial Analysis. Leksika: Jurnal Bahasa, Sastra Dan Pengajarannya, 17(1), 39–55.
Mays, K. J. (2018). The Norton Introduction to Literature (Thirteenth). W. W. Norton & Company.
Nisbett, G., & Dunn, S. (2019). Reputation Matters: Parasocial Attachment, Narrative engagement, and the 2018 Taylor Swift Political Endorsement. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 29(1), 26–38.
Nørgaard, N., Busse, B., & Montoro, R. (2010). Key Terms in Stylistics (Illustrated). Continuum.
Onoja, G. O. (2022). Representing Actions, States and Events through the Predicator in Chika Unigwe’s Selected Novels. Dutsinma Journal of English and Literature, 6(1), 70–91.
Paulson, D., & Dowling, M. K. (2022). Taylor Swift accepts “Songwriter-Artist of the Decade” award at Nashville Songwriter Awards at Ryman Auditorium. The Tennessean. The Tennessean.
Prasetiyo, D., Situmorang, H., & Hutabarat, I. (2023). Process Types of Transitivity System in Adele’s Song Lyrics. JURNAL LITTERA, 2(1), 9–20.
Purwandari, S. A., Hidayat, D. N., Waliyadin, W., & Syafii S, M. (2022). The Analysis of the Song Lyrics of the Energy of Asia Music Album from the Perspective of Systemic Functional Grammar. IDEAS: Journal on English Language Teaching and Learning, Linguistics and Literature, 10(1), 718–729.
Rakhmatullah, L. A., & Simatupang, E. C. (2022). Transitivity Process in “The Peace and The Picnic” Album By Neck Deep. Ethical Lingua: Journal of Language Teaching and Literature, 258–264.
Rangkuti, R., & Hafifah, S. (2022). Feminist stylistic analysis and LGBTQA+ representation in Lady Gaga’s born this way. JOALL (Journal of Applied Linguistics and Literature), 7(1), 276–290.
Riyandi, S. W. (2022). Visual and Verbal Means to Attract Our Clicks: Multimodality in YouTube Thumbnails. Notion: Journal of Linguistics, Literature, and Culture, 4(1), 54–62.
Rumapea, T. E., & Rangkuti, D. D. (2022). Character Construction of Songs in Kidung Jemaat: A Transitivity Analysis. Education and Development, 10(2), 482–486.
Santika, P., & Syafryadin. (2023). An Analysis of Figurative Language in Song Lyrics of the Album “Midnights” by Taylor Swift. Wiralodra English Journal, 7(1), 14–28.
Siahaan, H. V. F. (2021). Transitivity Processes in Bon Jovi’s Selected Song Lyrics. Ijeal: International Journal of English and Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 117–125.
Simpson, P. (2014). Stylistics: A Resource Book for Students (Routledge English Language Introductions) (2nd ed.). Routledge.
Sulistyawati, H., Krisifu, A., & Sumarlam. (2022). A Critical Discourse Analysis of Bts’ Song “On” (Systemic Functional Linguistics Approach). IJOTL-TL (Indonesian Journal of Language Teaching and Linguistics), 7(3), 256–270.
Supatmiwati, D., Dwiprasetyo, B. S., & Dewi, P. (2022). A Transitivity Analysis on Epic Rap Battle of Presidency Song. Humanitatis : Journal of Language and Literature, 8(2), 217–226.
Swift, T. (2022a). “Midnights, the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life. Instagram.
Swift, T. (2022b). Bigger Than the Whole Sky. Genius.
Swift, T. (2022c). High Infidelity. Genius.
Swift, T. (2022d). Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve. Genius.
Tanujaya, V. O., & Purnomo, B. (2023). Metaphorical Meaning of Taylor Swift’s ReputationAlbum:A Semantic Approach. Surakarta English and Literature Journal, 6(2).
Uitti, J. (2022). Go Behind the Meaning of the New Taylor Swift Single, “Anti-Hero.” American Songwriter.
Unterberger, A. (2022). Five Reasons Why Taylor Swift Was Able to Make Chart History with Her ‘Midnights’ Debut Week: Taylor Swift’s latest album blazes past Drake, Michael Jackson and The Beatles into the record books. Billboard.
Verdonk, P. (2013). The Stylistics of Poetry: Context, Cognition, Discourse, History. Bloomsbury Academic.
Von Appen, Ralf, Doehring, A., Helms, D., & Moore, A. F. (2016). Song interpretation in 21st-century pop music. In Song Interpretation in 21st-Century Pop Music (1st ed.). Routledge.
Wales, K. (2011). A Dictionary of Stylistics (Studies in Language and Linguistics) (3rd ed.). Routledge.
Webster, J. J., & Peng, X. (2018). Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics: The State of the Art in China Today. Bloomsbury Academic.
Wickes, H. (2022). All of the Records Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ Album Has Broken So Far: Billboard, Spotify, More. J-14.
Wickett, H. (2022). Taylor Swift “Midnights” iHeartRadio Album Premier. Youtube.Com.
Wu, J. (2023). The Required Reading for Entering Systemic Functional Linguistics: A Review of Systemic Functional Grammar: A First Step into the Theory. International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences, 8(3), 53–61.
Xiang, Q. (2022). Transitivity Analysis of Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address From the Perspective of Systemic Functional Grammar. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 12(1), 165–169.
Zainuddin, N. D. A., & Anuar, N. (2022). An Analysis of Rhetorical Devices in Taylor Swift’s All Too Well (10-minute version). Development in Language Studies, 2(2), 165–169.
Zhang, Z. (2022). Research on Music Album Sales and Commercial Economic Value: Taking Taylor Swift as Evidence. International Conference on Economic Development and Business Culture (ICEDBC 2022), 3–8.
How to Cite
Dewi Max, J., Vivian, Y., Putra, B., & Kuncara, S. (2023). Transitivity Analysis of Taylor Swift’s Lyrics in Midnights Album. Indonesian Journal of EFL and Linguistics, 8(2), 279-294.