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.

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