Friday, 8 May 2015

Confusing Identity With Identifiability

Martin (1992: 136-7):
To this point participant identification has been approached from the point of view of discourse semantics, with a focus on the nature of the phoric items and the work interlocutors must do to track down presumed information.  But it is important not to overlook the rôle that grammar plays in participant tracking.  For one thing, identifying structures (Halliday 1985: 112-128) may grammaticalise the relation between presuming and presumed.  This happened in [3:31] above, where the Token that (referring to John) was explicitly assigned the Value my husband.
[3:31] …Friends of my parents had a beagle and John hadn't seen a beagle (that's my husband) so he went and looked at one…
Apposition is also used in this way; [3:31] might have been spoken as follows, with the nominal group complex John, my husband doing the work of the Token^Value structure above:
[3:71] …Friends of my parents had a beagle and John, my husband, hadn't seen a beagle so he went and looked at one…
This kind of identification is referred to by Hasan (1984, 1985) as one kind of instantial reference. 

Blogger Comments:

[1] The rôle of the grammar, with respect to semantics, is to realise the meanings under consideration as wordings.

[2] The inclusion of identifying clauses here from the experiential grammar highlights the fundamental confusion that pervades this chapter: misconstruing the system concerned with identifiability — cohesive reference — as a system concerned with the instantial persistence of participants (participant identification).

[3] This is not quite right.  The apposition expresses the elaboration that also obtains in intensive identifying clauses; it does not do 'the work of the Token^Value structure', which is an identifying relation between two levels of abstraction.

[4] This is misleading, since it misrepresents Hasan (1984, 1985).  Hasan's term is 'instantial semblance', and it is a type of lexical cohesion, not 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 and demonstrative, is necessarily instantial.

Martin's example confuses the instantial lexical cohesion of John and husband with the demonstrative reference of that to John (anaphorically) and to my husband (cataphorically).

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