# From a systemic functional approach, what would a transitivity analysis of 'be that as it may' show?

I found this beautifully organized text for my students to analyze in terms of thematic progression. I'll also ask them to provide a transitivity analysis of some of its clauses, but there's that expression that caught me off guard.

I suppose it's a relational process 'be' followed by the carrier 'that' (which is already odd).

Then we get to 'as it may'. Would you say it's a conjunctive adjunct followed by a carrier and an elliptical attributive process (may be)?

Is there any other way to interpret it?

"be that as it may" starts with a subjunctive " be that", which can be paraphrased as "if that is". The next phrase is a fragment, paraphrased as "as it may be" ('as' is a conjunction here, meaning 'like'). The copulas in each phrase are empty, so the 'be' is existential (the complement is its existence, or truth; therefore a full paraphrase would be "if that is true, as it may be true". The author is trying to explain something without admitting that what was stated is true.

• I'd disagree slightly with this analysis. The copulas are not empty, but rather "as it may [be]" is the complement of the first "be"; and the phrase isn't a conditional but a concessive paraphrasable with "let". A full paraphrase would be "Let that be as it may be".
– TKR
Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 17:49
• @TKR - Can the concession be 'letting'? I have a problem seeing an imperative as an adverbial. I don't mind calling it a complement, but I still see it deeply as adverbial, as it would be if there was a real complement.cf. "Be that a cougar or a puma, as it may well be [one], I wouldn't try to pet it."
– amI
Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 5:33
• @aml I'm afraid I don't understand your comment (what imperative? Be here is subjunctive), but compare examples like Be the answer what it may, which can't by analyzed in the way you're proposing.
– TKR
Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 17:44
• I wouldn't think in terms of elision or "reduction" at all; God save the Queen is simply a subjunctive with a jussive or optative sense. Anyway it looks like we now agree on the basic structure but differ as to whether Be that as it may is conditional or concessive in sense. That's an empirical question; I can say that as a native speaker the conditional meaning is impossible for me (what would "If that is as it may be" actually mean?), and that I'm quite sure that looking at its usage in real contexts would show that the concessive meaning is what's intended.
– TKR
Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 21:58
• If you prefer, sure. I think either is OK since the meaning is the same.
– TKR
Commented Dec 2, 2018 at 22:18