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.

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[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).

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