Thursday, 30 April 2015

Misrepresenting Structure, Metafunction And Stratum

Martin (1992: 56):
In a model of discourse structure such as that proposed by the Birmingham school, all aspects of text structure have to be incorporated into a single rank scale such as act-move-exchange-transaction-lesson.  This naturally puts a great deal of pressure on move structure to capture cohesive relations as multivariately structured act sequences.  Here on the other hand, identification, conjunction and ideation will be treated separately from negotiation as discourse structures in their own right.

Blogger Comments:

Cohesive relations cannot be "captured" by move structure as multivariately structured act sequences — whatever the pressure — for three reasons.
  • First, cohesive relations are not structures, multivariate or otherwise.
  • Second, cohesive relations are textual in metafunction, whereas act sequences are presented as interpersonal.
  • Third, cohesive relations are lexicogrammatical in terms of level of symbolic abstraction, whereas act sequences are presented as semantic.

Confusing Unmarkedness And Congruence

Martin (1992: 58-9):
Halliday's (1985) notion of congruence bears on the problems encountered here.  Just as one can argue that there is an unmarked relationship between grammar and phonology whereby tone groups are associated with a single clause, so one might suggest that a similar unmarked relationship holds between a move and a clause complex: generally speaking a move in the exchange will be realised by a clause and its dependents.

Blogger Comment:

This is not congruence.  In SFL theory, congruence refers to a non-metaphorical relation of meaning (semantics) to wording (lexicogrammar).

On the other hand, the unmarked option is 'the form we tend to use if there is no prior context leading up to it, and no positive reason for choosing anything else' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 58), in contradistinction to marked, which means that the option is less frequent and 'carries a special interpretation' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 207).

The realisation of a single clause as a single tone group is unmarked tonality — where tonality refers to the selection of the number and boundaries of tone groups (Halliday 1970).

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Misconstruing Stratification

Martin (1992: 55, 56):
Where grammar is conceived as making meaning, there is no need to add an extra layer of interpretation to the semantics to simply re-label these functions. …
The general point here is that if the grammar, or the phonology for that matter, does the work, so be it.  The model developed here does not dualise meaning and form and so does not have to re-state the contributions made by phonology and lexicogrammar to text structure at the level of semantics.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses semogenesis with stratification.  The grammar making meaning is semogenesis.  In terms of stratification, the grammar realises meaning; grammar (wording) is construed as a lower level of symbolic abstraction than semantics (meaning).

[2] In proposing a level of symbolic abstraction above the grammar, it is necessary to make explicit both the system of choices at the level of semantics (meaning), and how they are congruently realised at the level of lexicogrammar (wording).  The reason it is necessary is because it is this that provides the baseline for examining incongruent realisations — grammatical metaphor — the major means of expanding meaning potential.

[3] SFL theory contrasts meaning with wording, as in the content plane strata, semantics and lexicogrammar, and form with function, as in the grammatical rank scale, where functions at a higher rank are realised by forms at the rank below.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Inconsistency In Treating Genre As A Connotative Semiotic

Martin (1992: 51):
The rank scale at the level of discourse proposed originally by Sinclair and Coulthard included three additional ranks, two above the exchange (lesson and transaction) and one below (move).  Considerations at the ranks of lesson and transaction will be handled under the heading of genre in this book and will be taken up again in Chapter 7, along with a discussion of why genre is treated as a[n] underlying connotative semiotic rather than a higher rank at the level of discourse semantics…

Blogger Comments:

Treating genre as a connotative semiotic is inconsistent with the meaning of both genre and connotative semiotic.  Where 'genre' refers to (a type of) language, a connotative semiotic is not language; it is a semiotic system whose expression plane is language (Hjelmslev 1961), and so: more abstract than language.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Underestimating The Mood Grammar

Martin (1992: 50-1):
… Ventola's category of a linguistic service (1987: 115-7) functions semantically as both an action and a knowledge exchange, and can be initiated with an interrogative as in the example below:
Can you tell me your name?
— Yes, allright, John Smith
The responding move picks up on the grammar (Can you … Yes), the SPEECH FUNCTION (tell me … allright) and the exchange structure (your name … John Smith).  This can be captured by analysing the exchange structure as K2^K1 (since the exchange can only be completed by providing the appropriate information), with the K2 realised by a demand for services, which is in turn coded through the grammar as a modalised polar interrogative.  Note that linguistic services of this kind thus demonstrate that Berry's (1981a: 40) suggestion that the exchange be viewed as a lexicogrammatical rank consisting of clauses cannot be maintained since such a model could not show that Can you tell me your name? is initiating an exchange of information as a service.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The polar interrogative clause Can you tell me your name? realises a demand for goods–&–services — a command, in terms of speech function.  The speech function is demonstrated by its congruent realisation as the imperative verbal clause Tell me your name.  The service demanded is thus the telling of verbiage.  However, here the command is realised metaphorically by a modalised polar interrogative, as a way of construing a particular tenor relation between the interactants.

The modal operator can checks the inclination of the addressee, which is, in congruent realisations, the function of an imperative mood tag.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 627):
On the one hand, an ‘imperative’ clause imposes an obligation; on the other hand, the imperative tag checks the addressee’s inclination to comply… .

[2] What the response 'picks up on' is first the grammar — the polar interrogative: yes — and then the semantics — the command to tell: allright, John Smith).  This relates to grammatical metaphor as 'junctional'.

As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 283, 288) point out, the metaphorical form also embodies semantic features deriving from its own incongruent lexicogrammatical properties.  That is, grammatical metaphor is a means of simultaneously construing the meanings of both the congruent and incongruent grammatical realisations — in this instance: of imperative and of polar interrogative mood, respectively.

These two meanings, the speech functions command and question, are themselves in an elaborating token-value relation within the semantic stratum, with the metaphorical Token (question) realising the congruent Value (command).

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Misrepresenting Stratification

Martin (1992: 46):
To this point a stratified approach to the function of interacts has been proposed, with MOOD and SPEECH FUNCTION each contributing one layer of meaning on the content plane.

Blogger Comment:

In SFL stratification, the content plane consists of one level of meaning, semantics, and one level of wording, lexicogrammar, not two levels of meaning.

The grammatical system of MOOD is a system of wording that realises meaning: the semantic system of SPEECH FUNCTION.

The semantic system of SPEECH FUNCTION is a system of meaning that is realised by wording: the grammatical system of MOOD.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Confusing Semogenesis And Stratification

Martin (1992: 40):
It should also be noted in passing that in the model being developed here both grammar and discourse semantics make meaning. Levinson (1983: 290) comments that the first move in the following text is both "a question and an offer, as indicated by the response".
Would you like another drink?
— Yes, I would, thank-you, but make it a small one.
This is just what would have been predicted by the model developed to this point. Grammatically the first move is a demand for information (interrogative) while semantically it offers goods (Offer); both MOOD and SPEECH FUNCTION contribute a layer of meaning to the clause.

Blogger Comments:

 [1] It is true that both grammar and semantics make meaning — making meaning is semogenesis.  However, this is quite distinct from the stratification of content plane as meaning (semantics) and wording (lexicogrammar), which construes two levels of symbolic abstraction in an intensive (elaborating) identifying relation.

[2] Grammatically, the first move is an interrogative, which is a congruent realisation of a demand for information (question) at the level of semantics.  However, this interrogative clause realises an offer.  Offers are not grammaticised in the mood system and are realised by interrogatives, declaratives or imperatives, depending on the tenor (context) being realised.

[3] This requires clarification.  The mood of a clause, at the level of wording (lexicogrammar), realises speech function, at the level of meaning (semantics).  The meaning of a clause consists of the semantic choices that the grammatical choices realise.  The clause itself is at the level of wording, not meaning.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Blurring Context And Material Setting

Martin (1992: 39-40):
The final set of factors to be taken into account when determining speech function are considerations of context.  Can you open this window? when inspecting a property is likely to be heard differently than when sitting in a stuffy room.  Field, mode, tenor, genre and ideology are all relevant as participating levels of semiosis; it is not possible simply to map speech function directly from 'words on the page'.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This blurs the distinction between context (the field of property inspection) and material setting (a stuffy room).  The context is the semiotic system that is realised by language.  In these instances, the speech function realised by the interrogative clause — question or command— varies with the situation being realised in language.

[2] While field, tenor and mode are metafunctional systems of a level of semiotic systems — the stratum of context — genre, as the name suggests, is a type of semiotic system.  A type of x is not a level of x.  A type of bird is not a level of bird.

[3] It is worth clarifying that the four most general speech functions are defined in terms of the cross-classification of giving vs demanding and information vs goods-&-services, and that three of these have congruent realisations in the mood system — the level of wording.  Metaphorical renderings can be identified by testing the mood choice against the speech function cross-classification.  Congruent and metaphorical renderings realise, and construe, different tenor values at the level of context.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Misrepresenting The Realisation Of Speech Function In Mood

Martin (1992: 36):
To this point a model has been outlined in which SPEECH FUNCTION (discourse semantics) has been stratified with respect to MOOD (lexicogrammar) on the content plane.  This immediately raises two questions: (i) the determination of speech function in the absence of a one to one correlation between general SPEECH FUNCTION categories and those of MOOD; and (ii) the nature of the units to which speech function is assigned.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The system of SPEECH FUNCTION is a semantic system, because it is construed as a higher level of symbolic abstraction than the lexicogrammatical system of MOOD.  The argument that it is specifically a discourse semantic system has not been made.

[2] This is not quite right.  It is not that there is an "absence of a one to one correlation between general SPEECH FUNCTION categories and those of MOOD", but that, with the exception of offers (giving goods-&-services), there are congruent and metaphorical realisations of (semantic) speech function in (grammatical) mood. 

The speech function command (demanding goods-&-services) is congruently realised as imperative mood, question (demanding information) as interrogative mood, and statement (giving information) as declarative mood.

Metaphorical (incongruent) realisations are used to vary tenor, the interpersonal system of context, as are the varying realisations of offer — the speech function that is not grammaticised in the mood system.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Confusing Context With Co-Text And Material Setting

Martin (1992: 33):
Evidence for the fact that the different grammatical classes are performing a related discourse function comes from their context: from their co-text — the inclusion of please and the reply allright; and from the context of situation, where one might well observe goods being exchanged.

Blogger Comments:

In SFL theory, the word 'context' has a precise meaning, which does not include either the co-text, or the material setting of the interlocutors.

Context is the name given to the stratum above the three language strata of semantics, lexicogrammar and phonology/graphology.  As such, it is both a semiotic system, and one that is located at a higher level of symbolic abstraction than language.  The 'context of situation' is the name given to an instance of context, and the system of which it is an instance is called 'context of culture'.

As such, "where one might well observe goods being exchanged" — which is of the material order of experience — is distinct from the context of situation — which is of the semiotic order of experience.

The SFL term for the material order of experience of interlocutors is material setting.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Confusing The Textual And Interpersonal Metafunctions

Martin (1992: 33):
This is an important step as far as interpreting dialogue is concerned since there is no simple relation between general grammatical classes and the rôle they play in structuring a conversation.  The most commonly discussed example of this is the realisation of demands for goods and services.  Each class considered so far, for example imperative, declarative and interrogative MOOD, can be used to code a Command.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Trivial point: imperative, declarative and interrogative MOOD are grammatical functions, features, not grammatical classes.

[2] Any rôle that a grammatical system has in structuring a text such as a conversation is a resource of the textual metafunction.  Speech functions, such as commands, and the moods that realise them grammatically — either congruently (imperative) or metaphorically (declarative and interrogative) — are resources of the interpersonal metafunction.  Here the two distinct metafunctions are confused.  The interpersonal metafunction is concerned with enacting relationships, the textual metafunction is concerned with organising the interpersonal and ideational into texts.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Misrepresenting Stratification

Martin (1992: 32-3):
Semantically oriented labels of this kind highlight the meaning of the grammatical terms … and are used throughout Halliday (1985) [An Introduction To Functional Grammar] to focus on the grammar as a functionally organised meaning making resource (rather than as a syntax or set of forms).  No attempt is made to distinguish stratally between grammar and meaning; rather the grammar in [is] infused with meaning, and a stratal distinction between grammar and semantics [is] systematically blurred.  In this book however, an attempt will be made to unpick the boundary between grammar and semantics…

Blogger Comments:

[1] The stratal distinction between grammar and semantics is not "systematically blurred". In the theoretical architecture of SFL, the content plane is stratified into semantics and lexicogrammar.  The stratal distinction that this makes is between meaning and wording.  The principal reason for doing so was the advantage it gave in being able to account for grammatical metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 237):
Of course, what we are recognising here as two distinct constructions, the semantic and the grammatical, never had or could have had any existence the one prior to the other; they are our analytic representation of the overall semioticising of experience — how experience is construed into meaning. If the congruent form had been the only form of construal, we would probably not have needed to think of semantics and grammar as two separate strata: they would be merely two facets of the content plane, interpreted on the one hand as function and on the other as form.

[2] The grammar is not infused with meaning — the grammar realises meaning.  The grammar (wording) is at a lower level of symbolic abstraction than the semantics (meaning).

A functional grammar is a grammar viewed 'from above', because explaining functionality gives priority to the view 'from above'.  This means giving priority to the view from higher levels of symbolic abstraction, which means viewing the grammar from semantics, in terms of stratification, and from system, in terms of axis.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 31):
Being a 'functional grammar' means that priority is given to the view 'from above'; that is, grammar is seen as a resource for making meaning — it is a 'semanticky' kind of grammar. But the focus of attention is still on the grammar itself
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is one of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features. Explaining something consists not of stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness (agnation).

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Confusing Stratification With Instantiation: Register And Genre

Martin (1992: 26):
… a model of context will be built up by sketching in the connotative semiotics of register, genre and ideology.

Blogger Comments:

Neither register nor genre is a connotative semiotic in any way that is consistent with the meaning of the term, nor are they 'context' in any way that is consistent with the theoretical architecture of SFL theory.

A connotative semiotic (Hjelmslev 1943) is a semiotic system whose expression plane is a semiotic system. In the case of context, it means a higher–level system that has language as its plane of expression.

Context, as a connotative system above language, is a higher level of symbolic abstraction than language.  Register and genre, on the other hand, are not higher levels of symbolic abstraction than language.  Register and genre are functional varieties of language.  A variety of language is not more abstract than language, just as lorikeet, a variety of bird, is not more abstract than bird.

Register is located theoretically on the cline of instantiation.  It is 'text type', viewed from the system pole of the cline; just as 'text type' is register, viewed from the instance pole.

Registers vary with the situation types (the context) they realise.  This variation shows up in the different probabilities of instantiation in linguistic systems for different registers, which, in turn, realise different instantiation probabilities of context systems: field, tenor and mode.

Genres, as text types, are registers viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.

Generic stages, on the other hand, are units at the level of semantics (meaning), that vary according to text type.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Discourse Semantic Systems: Metafunctional Inconsistencies

Martin (1992: 26):
These chapters are organised by metafunction: NEGOTIATION considers the discourse semantics of interpersonal meaning, IDENTIFICATION the discourse semantics of textual meaning, CONJUNCTION the discourse semantics of logical meaning, and IDEATION the discourse semantics of experiential meaning.

 Blogger Comments:

[1] To the extent that the discourse semantic system of CONJUNCTION is concerned with the text-forming resources of language — as a rebranding of cohesive conjunction — it is a system of the textual metafunction, not the logical metafunction.  Construing it as logical creates a theoretical inconsistency.

[2] To the extent that the discourse semantic system of IDEATION is concerned with the text-forming resources of language — as a rebranding of lexical cohesion — it is a system of the textual metafunction, not the experiential metafunction. Construing it as experiential creates a theoretical inconsistency.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Inconsistencies In The Notion Of 'Discourse Semantic Structure'

Martin (1992: 25):
Following Lemke (1985) [Ideology, Intertextuality and the Notion of Register], discourse semantic structures of this kind will be referred to as covariate.  Covariate structures are those in which a semantic interdependency is constructed between items (which may or may not be grammaticalised) and in which dependent items have the potential to themselves be depended on.  These structures are the principle resource used by the discourse semantics for constructing text (although multivariate and univariate structures are also found…). … In this model, covariate structures in which one item presumes another are referred to phoric; covariate structures in which information is not so presumed are referred to as expectant.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Lemke (1988: 159) reinterprets his 'covariate structure' as a structuring principle, rather than a kind of structure:
My own 'covariate structure' (Lemke 1985), which includes Halliday's univariate type, is for the case of homogeneous relations of co-classed units, and should perhaps be called a 'structuring principle' rather than a kind of structure.
Martin includes Lemke (1988) in his list of references (p603).

[2] No argument has been offered to demonstrate that these discourse semantic 'structures' are structures.  It has been presumed throughout.  This is the logical fallacy known as 'begging the question':
The fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, is committed when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.
[3] Interdependency is a system of the logical metafunction.  Here it is applied to systems of the textual metafunction — cohesion — which Martin reconstrues as the full range of metafunctions at a higher level of symbolic abstraction — discourse semantics.  Each move creates a serious theoretical inconsistency.  

A related inconsistency is the reconstrual of the interdependency relations, hypotaxis and parataxis, as the relations 'presumption' and 'expectancy', respectively, neither of which is a form of interdependency.

[4] In SFL, the resource for 'constructing text' is the textual metafunction, structural and non-structural, operating at all strata.  It is not restricted to one level of symbolic abstraction — 'discourse semantics' — nor is it the concern of the other metafunctions.  The interpersonal metafunction is concerned with enacting the self and relationships as meaning; the ideational metafunction is concerned with construing experience as meaning.

[5] Here a relation that has been explored through the lens of the logical metafunction — as hypotaxis — is given a label of a resource of the textual metafunction — phoric (reference) — and then proposed as a structural principle across all metafunctions at a level of symbolic abstraction above the lexicogrammar — discourse semantics.  Each move creates a serious theoretical inconsistency.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Problems In Construing Cohesive Ties As Ideation Structure

Martin (1992: 24-5):
With IDEATION, a different type of discourse structure is found.  Consider the following proportionalities:
I'm a little tired of this robot :
but I'd love to try that android :: 
I'm not pleased with this robot :
but that model looks fine.
In these examples a semantic relationship is established between robot and android and between robot and model; but it is not one that depends on identity of reference as above (in both examples the related items refer to different participants).  Rather the cohesive tie is one that depends on taxonomic relationsandroid is a hyponym of robot in the first example; and model is a superordinate of robot in the second.  This type of semantic relation is more analogous with parataxis: the items related are mutually expectant — android is no more dependent on robot in the first example that robot is on android.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Again, no argument is put forward as to why these relations are structures.  They are presumed to be structures, and so the question to be addressed is merely 'what type?'.  This is the logical fallacy known as 'begging the question':
The fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, is committed when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.
[2] Trivial point: model is not a superordinate of robot.  For model to be a superordinate of robot, robot would have to be a type of model, in the sense that lorikeet is a type of bird.   Here model is in a token-type relation with robot — it refers to an instance of the class robot.

[3] Taxonomic relations are not analogous with parataxis.  Taxonomic relations are relations between items within a scheme of classification (and subclassification), organised on the principle of either elaboration ('hyponymic') or extension ('meronymic').  Parataxis, in contrast, refers to forms in a complex being of equal status, with regard to interdependency.

[4] Again, a non-structural relation within the textual metafunction — the metafunction that organises the other metafunctions in the creation of texts — is being construed here as if it is a structure of the logical metafunction.  This theoretical inconsistency will be further compounded by Martin reconstruing this textual system, at the level grammar, as an experiential system, at the level of 'discourse' semantics.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Problems In Construing Cohesive Ties As Identification Structure

Martin (1992: 23-4):
Introducing/presuming oppositions of this kind are one resource for constructing discourse structure in text (for producing what Halliday and Hasan refer to as cohesive ties).  Read as texts, the proportionalities reviewed above display three structures of this kind:
a robot
a robot
a robot
the android
this model
What kind of structures are these?  If we try to relate structure of this kind to those we are familiar with from grammar, then they are more closely related to univariate structures than multivariate ones.  They are open-ended, with the same type of relation between elements potentially occurring over again and over again; a cohesive chain such as a robot-the android-it-it-the robot in other words is more like a clause complex than a clause.  It is (semantic) interdependency that is relevant here, not constituency.
Within univariate structures, the analogy is with hypotaxis.  Presuming items are semantically dependent on the information they presume, with presumed information functioning as a kind of Head.

Blogger Comments:

[1] No argument is provided to support the claim that these relations are structures.  The relations are presumed to be structures and the question then is 'what type?'.  This is the logical fallacy known as 'begging the question':
The fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, is committed when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.
[2] Again, android and model are related to robot by lexical cohesion (Martin's ideation) not reference (Martin's identification).  Anaphoric reference is realised only by the grammatical items itthe and this.  That is, two distinct types of cohesion are being confused for the purposes of establishing a model of 'discourse structure'.

[3] There are two immediate problems with using interdependency and univariate structures as a model of these relations.

The first problem is the theoretical inconsistency of construing what is purported to be a structure of the textual metafunction in terms of a principle and structure type of the logical metafunction.  Martin's identification is proposed to be a discourse semantic system of the textual metafunction.

The second problem is the absence of structure in these relations.  Univariate structures are structures because they involve units related by interdependency in unit complexes: clauses in clause complexes, and so on.  Nothing analogous to a unit complex is proposed here.  And, considering the first problem, anything corresponding to a unit complex would be a logical structure, not a textual one.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Inconsistency In Reconstruing Reference As Identification

Martin (1992: 23):
First, IDENTIFICATION.  Consider the following proportionalities:
There was a robot : It looked bored ::
There was a robot : The android looked bored ::
There was a robot : This model looked bored
The relevant opposition here is between introducing a participant (a robot) and presuming one (it, the android, this model).  In the examples, it, the android and this model assume that identity is recoverable from context, while a robot does not.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin's IDENTIFICATION is Halliday's cohesive system of REFERENCE, reconstrued as 'discourse semantics'.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 550-1):
The textual status at issue in the system of reference is that of identifiability: does the speaker judge that a given element can be recovered or identified by the listener at the relevant point in the discourse or not? If it is presented as identifiable, then the listener will have to recover the identity from somewhere else. If it is presented as non-identifiable, then the listener will have to establish it as a new element of meaning in the interpretation of the text.
[2] The reference items in the examples are the grammatical items it, the and this which refer anaphorically to a robot.  The lexical items android and model are related to robot by lexical cohesion (Martin's IDEATION), not by reference (Martin's IDENTIFICATION).  This inconsistency will contribute to undermining the argument for this type of 'discourse structure'.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Conflating Realisation With Instantiation

Martin (1992: 23):
From the perspective of discourse semantics, however, these relationships [cohesive relations] can be construed as "structural", although clearly involving a structure of a non-grammatical kind.  This construal is important in order to understand the sense in which the discourse semantic unit text instantiates discourse semantic systems.

Blogger Comments:

[1] It will be demonstrated in later posts that cohesive relations are not 'structural' — except as a Humpty-Dumptyism.

[2] This conflates two distinct dimensions of the architecture of SFL theory: realisation and instantiation.

The relation between system, paradigmatic ordering, and text as semantic unit, syntagmatic ordering, is the realisation relation between the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes.  Realisation (symbolic abstraction) is an intensive identifying (token-value) relation.

It is the relation between system, as potential, and text as instance (of the system), that is instantiation.  Instantiation is an intensive attributive relation (token to type).

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Misconstruing The Level Of Symbolic Abstraction Of Cohesion

Martin (1992: 23):
Univariate structure at the rank of clause brings us to a grammatical frontier — the distinction between the clause complex and cohesion discussed in Section 1.4 above.  As noted, Halliday and Hasan refer to this frontier as non-structural; and from the perspective of lexicogrammar, this is just what they aresemantic relationships which transcend grammatical structure.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The 'distinction between the clause complex and cohesion' — 'from the perspective of lexicogrammar' — is the distinction between the structural resources of logical metafunction and the non-structural resources of the textual metafunction.

[2] Trivial point: it is not the "frontier" that is non-structural; but cohesion.

[3] Cohesive relations are also non-structural from the perspective of discourse semantics, as will be demonstrated in later posts.

[4] Cohesion realises 'semantic relationships which transcend grammatical structure'.  Cohesion is a grammatical system — a textual system at the level of wording — and as such, realises textual systems at the level of meaning (semantics).   Cohesion is a system at a lower level of symbolic abstraction than semantics.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Misconstruing Stratification

Martin (1992: 21):
… the [stratification] model can be read as three meaning making levels, with the meanings made by smaller circles progressively recontextualised by larger ones.

 Blogger Comments:

This confuses semogenesis (meaning making) with stratification (levels of symbolic abstraction).  The model of stratification, three cotangential circles, construes three levels of symbolic abstraction in meaning making: semantics (meaning), lexicogrammar (wording) and phonology (sounding).

As strata, smaller circles realise the larger circles.  Sounding realises wording; wording realises meaning.

The meanings realised by smaller circles are represented by the largest circle (semantics).

Friday, 10 April 2015

Why The Argument For A 'Discourse' Semantic Stratum Is Invalid

Martin (1992: 19):
The impetus for stratification provided by semantic motifs, grammatical metaphor and cohesion gives rise to a model in which the discourse semantics both generalises across grammatical resources and accounts for relations between as well as within clause complexes.  The discourse semantics is thus more abstract than, and deals with larger units than, lexicogrammar.

 Blogger Comments:

[1] Only one of the three purported rationâles, grammatical metaphor, provides a valid reason for stratifying the content plane; but grammatical metaphor does not justify a stratum of discourse semantics — merely a stratum of semantics, as in Halliday's original model.  See here.

As already explained in an earlier post, the discussion of semantic motifs confuses delicacy with stratification, and proposes a higher stratum system (attitude) that would be in an incongruent relation with a grammatical subsystem of process types (behavioural, mental and relational).  See here.

The discussion of cohesion provides no reasons for reconstruing cohesion as belonging to a higher level of symbolic abstraction.  The argument rests on separating cohesion from grammar — a false dichotymy — and the false claim: "the main problem with this treatment is that it fails to bring out the continuity of between the structural [taxis] and non-structural [cohesive] resources".  See here.  Note that, even if this were true, it would not justify relocating cohesion at a higher level of symbolic abstraction.

[2] This again confuses delicacy ("generalises") with stratification (symbolic abstraction).  The grammar is "generalised" by its least delicate systems.  A semantics is more symbolically abstract than lexicogrammar, not more general.

[3] Relations between and within clause complexes are already accounted for by the cohesive resources of the grammar.

[4] This has not been demonstrated.  The discourse semantics is not "thus" more abstract than the grammar, because neither generalisation nor syntagmatic extension is the same as symbolic abstraction.

[5] The proposed unit for the discourse semantic system of the textual metafunction, identification, is the participant (op cit: 325), which is smaller than the clause, and inconsistent with SFL theory in terms of metafunction, since the participant is an experiential, not textual, function. Moreover, the size of units is irrelevant as a criterion for levels of symbolic abstraction (stratification).

Conclusion:  The case for establishing a 'discourse semantic' stratum has not been made by any of the three purported rationâles.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Not Recognising The 'Continuity' Between Clause Taxis And Conjunctive Cohesion

Martin (1992: 19):
The main problem with this treatment [of clause taxis and conjunctive cohesion by Halliday and Hasan] is that it fails to bring out the continuity of the structural (i.e. as soon as, because, whereas) and the non-structural (i.e. immediately, consequently, by contrast) resources.

 Blogger Comment:

This is not true.  Systemic Functional grammar provides the means of understanding what they have in common as well as how they differ in function.

They differ in terms of metafunction: taxis involves logical relations between units in univariate structures (complexes), whereas conjunctive cohesion involves non-structural textual relations.

But textual cohesion involves the deployment of all the metafunctions for textual (metafunctional) ends:
  • conjunction is the deployment of logical resources to textual ends,
  • reference is the deployment of textual resources to textual ends
  • substitution and ellipsis is the deployment of interpersonal resources to textual ends, and
  • lexical cohesion is the deployment of experiential resources to textual ends.
Therein lies the 'continuity' between clause taxis and conjunctive cohesion.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Misconstruing 'Cohesion Within The Sentence'

Martin (1992: 19):
Halliday and Hasan do recognise that "cohesion within the sentence need not be regarded essentially as distinct phenomena" (1976: 9), but argue that in the description of a text "it is the intersentence cohesion that is significant, because that represents the variable aspect of cohesion, distinguishing one text from another" (1976: 9).  In a sense, the line they draw between cohesion and grammar is justified descriptively rather than theoretically.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Martin misinterprets the line between 'cohesion within the sentence' and 'intersentence cohesion' as the line between cohesion and grammar.  Both uses of cohesion are cohesion, the non-structural component of the textual metafunction, and cohesion is located on the lexicogrammatical stratum.

[2] The distinction between 'cohesion within the sentence' and 'intersentence cohesion' is thus not a descriptive justification of a distinction between grammar and cohesion.  The reason Halliday and Hasan focus on 'intersentence cohesion' for the description of a text is that this is most relevant for comparing texts in terms of (as instances of) register.  The quote from Halliday and Hasan (1976: 23) that Martin provides (op cit: 28) makes this clear:
The concept of COHESION can therefore be usefully supplemented by that of REGISTER, since the two together effectively define a TEXT.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Misrepresenting The Domain Of Cohesion

Martin (1992: 19):
In Cohesion In English terms, structure is concerned with relationships within the sentence, cohesion with relationships between them.

Blogger Comment:

This is not true.  In Systemic Functional grammar, multivariate structures pertain to rank units, such as the clause, and univariate structures to unit complexes, such as the clause complex.

Cohesive relations can obtain both within and between clauses and clause complexes.  Examples include substitution or ellipsis in the secondary clause of a clause nexus, or anaphoric reference or lexical cohesion within a clause nexus.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Misrepresenting Cohesion

Martin (1992: 19):
Each of these oppositions [taxis vs cohesion] represents the line drawn by Halliday and Hasan (1976; Halliday 1973; 1985: 288) between grammar (in this case the clause complex) and cohesion, with grammar focussing on structural resources for realising text and cohesion on non-structural ones.

Blogger Comments:

This misrepresents the place of cohesion in Halliday's model.  Cohesion is part of the grammar — the non-structural resources of the textual metafunctionnot separate from it.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 538):
… the systems of cohesion operate within either the grammatical zone or the lexical zone of the lexicogrammatical continuum. Conjunction, reference and ellipsis are all grammaticalsystems, and are thus all manifestations of what we might call grammatical cohesion. The point of origin of each of these systems falls within one or more particular grammatical unit; and terms within these systems are realised either by grammatical items that have some particular place within the structure of that unit or (in the case of ellipsis) by the absence of elements of grammatical structure. For example, the systemic environment of conjunction is that of the clause; and conjunctions serve as conjunctive Adjuncts in the structure of the clause. In contrast, lexical cohesion operates within the lexical zone; and it follows the general principle that lexical items are not defined in terms of particular grammatical environments.
Separating cohesion from the grammar will provide Martin with a pretext for relocating it on his stratum of 'discourse semantics'.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Misrepresenting Grammatical Metaphor

Martin (1992: 17):
Stratifying the content plane provides one mechanism for handling semantic layering of this kind.  The level of grammar can be used to provide an interpretation of the "literal" meaning of metaphorical structures and the meaning of congruent ones; the level of semantics can then be deployed to construct additional interpretations for metaphorical expressions (their "figurative" or "transferred" meaning).

Blogger Comment:

This is not the SFL model of grammatical metaphor.  In SFL theory, having two content plane strata provides the distinction between meaning and wording, so that an incongruent realisation relation between them — grammatical metaphor — can be accounted for.

As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 283) point out, the metaphorical form is junctional: it also embodies semantic features deriving from its own incongruent lexicogrammatical properties.  That is, grammatical metaphor is a means of simultaneously construing the meanings of both the congruent and incongruent grammatical realisations.

These two meanings are themselves in an elaborating token-value relation within the semantic stratum, with the metaphorical Token realising the congruent Value (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 288).

Importantly, although grammatical metaphor does motivate the stratification of the content plane, it does not motivate a discourse semantic stratum.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Problems With Semantic Motifs As A Motivation For Stratification

Martin (1992: 16):
First, there is the question of semantic motifs running through the grammar which cannot be generalised at that level because of their diverse structural realisations.  The following proportionalities can be used to illustrate this point:
Ford is smiling because Trillian arrived :                    [behavioural]
It pleases Ford that Trillian has arrived :                    [mental]
Ford is happy that Trillian has arrived ::                    [relational]

Ford is frowning because Trillian has left :                    [behavioural]
It disturbs Ford that Trillian has left :                    [mental]
Ford is unhappy that Trillian has left ::                    [relational]

Ford is trembling because Trillian is missing :                    [behavioural]
It terrifies Ford that Trillian is missing :                    [mental]
Ford is shattered that Trillian is missing                    [relational]
Following Halliday (1985), the first clause in each set is behavioural, the second mental and the third relational — fundamentally different process types.  At the same time, all three clauses construct a relatively uniform, and not unfamiliar disposition for Ford.  One way to generalise across these various realisations of the same disposition is to stratify the content plane, setting up an attitude network realised across process types (with realisations extending into other areas of the grammar as well; for example, adverbial and nominal groups).

Blogger Comments:

[1] In the theoretical architecture of SFL, the general–specific dimension corresponds to delicacy, not  to stratification.  Stratification is concerned with symbolic abstraction, not with generalisation.  To generalise across the three process types would mean proposing a subsystem of process types at the level of lexicogrammar.  It would not involve proposing a more abstract system on a higher stratum of content.

There is the further problem in proposing such a subsystem of process types in that not all mental, behavioural and relational processes would be included in such a generalised system.  For example, the only relational processes that would be included are those which are attributive, and of these: intensive, and of these: those with a quality of  emotive projection as Attribute.

[2] Behavioural, mental and relational are types of process.  Attitudes are not processes; in ideational semantic terms, attitudes are qualities of projection.  In terms of delicacy, qualities are not generalisations of processes.  In terms of stratification, qualities are not congruently realised by processes.  The proposed stratification would construe a metaphorical relation, not a congruent one.

Conclusion:  These 'semantic motifs' provide no rationâle for a higher level of content — discourse semantic or otherwise.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Misconstruing Realisation And Instantiation

Martin (1992: 5):
As noted above, system is related to process through the concept of realisationrealisation formalises the instantiation of the system in process.

Blogger Comments:

[1] System is related to structure through the concept of realisation — not to the process of instantiation.

[2] Realisation doesn't "formalise" the instantiation of the system in process.  Realisation is an intensive identifying relation (token-value) between levels of symbolic abstraction, as between strata and between axes; instantiation is an intensive attributive relation (token-type) between actual instances of the system and the overall system of potential (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 14-5, 145).  See also here.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Confusing Realisation And Instantiantion

Martin (1992: 4):
Following Hjelmslev (1961), paradigmatic relations are mapped onto potential and syntagmatic relations are mapped onto actual; thus system is described in terms of paradigmatic oppositions, process in terms of syntagmatic structure.  System and process are related through the important concept of realisation.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses realisation and instantiation.  The relation between the axes, paradigmatic and syntagmatic, is one of realisation.  The relation between potential and actual is one of instantiation.

[2] This also confuses realisation and instantiation, but in a different way.  Here the instantiation process is confused with the realisation of paradigmatic options as syntagmatic structure.

[3] This confuses syntagmatic structure and the process of instantiation.  It isn't system and process that are related through realisation, but system and structure.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Confusing Strata

Martin (1992: 1):
Like Cohesion In English [Halliday & Hasan], English Text uses systemic functional grammar to ask questions about text structure, and complements the grammar by developing additional analyses which focus on text rather than clause.  Cohesion In English organises this division of labour as the opposition between grammar and cohesion (between structural and non-structural resources for meaning).  English Text organises this division of labour in a different way — stratally, as an opposition between grammar and semantics (between clause oriented and text oriented resources for meaning).

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL, cohesion is not in opposition to grammar — it is within the grammar, and within the textual metafunction, as its non-structural component (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 524-85).  As such, cohesion is a lexicogrammatical means of realising textual meaning.  That is, cohesion is construed as a lower level of symbolic abstraction than semantics.

Symbolic abstraction is the principle on which linguistic strata are organised.  The relation between strata is one of realisation: lower stratum realises higher stratum.  A transitivity analysis of this shows that the relation between strata is identifying and intensive (elaborating):

lexicogrammar (wording)
semantics (meaning)
Process: identifying: intensive

[2] Clearly, construing the opposition between the non-structural textual grammar and the remainder of the grammar — textual, interpersonal, experiential, and logical — as a stratal opposition is inconsistent with the meaning of strata: as different levels of symbolic abstraction.

Since Martin distinguishes the content plane strata as an opposition "between clause oriented and text oriented resources for meaning", it is reasonable to conclude that he formulated his semantics on the basis of the size of units, rather than on the basis of symbolic abstraction.  This is a serious inconsistency with the original model.

Conclusion: The founding rationâle for establishing a stratum of 'discourse semantics' is inconsistent with the theory in which it is intended to be situated.