Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Confusing Ideational Construal With Textual Reference

Martin (1992: 139):
Alongside these grammatical resources for constructing participants, discourse semantics can also be used to turn non-participant meanings into things. It does this by using it, this and that to refer to text. This is discussed by Halliday and Hasan (1976: 52-3, 66-7) under the headings of extended reference (to text as act) and text reference (to text as projection). They point out that this is the main use made of demonstratives in most registers of English. Instead of nominalising non-participants to treat them as participants, it, this and that simply construct them by referring to them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, here, as elsewhere, Martin confuses the ideational metafunction ('constructing participants', 'turning non-participants into things') with the textual metafunction ('referring to them').

[2] This is misleading.   For Halliday and Hasan (1976), as well as Halliday ± Matthiessen (1985, 1994, 2004, 2014), reference is a textual resource of the grammar.  Martin here leaves the naïve reader with the impression that Halliday and Hasan endorse Martin's relocation of their extended and text reference to his discourse semantics.

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