Thursday, 14 May 2015

A Misleading Analysis Of "Instantial Reference"

Martin (1992: 144-5):
Finally instantial reference needs to be considered. Where the ideational resources of the grammar (identifying clauses or nominal group apposition) are used to identify participants, the dependency line connecting them in reference chains can be assigned the valence INSTInstantial reference often has the effect of conjoining chains, as in [3:84] below.
The boy was looking for his frog
he eventually found one
but he didn't realise
it was his frog.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As previously explained, Martin's notion of "instantial reference" is his misunderstanding of Hasan's (1984, 1985) 'instantial semblance', which is a type of lexical cohesionnot reference.  Hasan (1985: 81):
All lexical cohesive devices discussed above are general in nature.  For example, the relation of synonymy between lady and woman is a general fact of English.  There are cohesive devices that are entirely specific to a single text, for example, those of INSTANTIAL SEMBLANCE as in all my pleasures are like yesterdays (Hasan 1984).
To be clear, all co-reference, personal (he, her, its etc.) and demonstrative (the, this, those etc.), is necessarily instantial.

[2] To be clear, the reference in this text constructed by Martin is as follows:
  • the: demonstrative homophoric
  • his: personal anaphoric to the boy
  • he: personal anaphoric to the boy
  • he: personal anaphoric to the boy
  • itpersonal anaphoric to one and cataphoric to his frog
  • his: personal anaphoric to the boy
There is no "conjoining" of reference chains; but see [3] below.

[3] There are three serious problems with Martin's analysis.

Firstly, the analysis violates Martin's own model, which treats reference as a (structural) relation between nominal groups realising participants. On this basis, the first and last items in the chain should be his frog, not his.  However, such an analysis would expose a serious flaw in the model, since his frog and he are different participants.

Secondly, the analysis misrepresents a relation of lexical cohesion (the repetition of frog) as an instance of reference.  This can be seen as an attempt to hide the flaw in the model, identified in the previous paragraph.

Thirdly, it misrepresents the "instantial" reference — the cataphoric reference of it to his frog — as an anaphoric reference of frog to it.

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