Saturday, 2 May 2015

Confusing Nominal Group Deixis With Cohesive Reference

Martin (1992: 97-8):
The Tagalog rôle marking system interacts with participant identification in that the Theme is almost always "definite" — and so translated into English as the.
… and it turns out that Tagalog does not have a [definite/indefinite] article system as part of its grammatical resources for tracking participants.  Like English it does have demonstratives, pronouns and proper names … .  And unlike English, the Theme in Tagalog is almost always definite.
The [this] means that the work of identifying participants in English is done mainly through the nominal group, whereas in Tagalog the process is undertaken through co-operating clause and nominal group systems … .
In the remainder of this chapter English resources for participant identification will be outlined.  To begin the discourse semantics of 'definiteness' will be presented, followed by a review of the implications of stratifying discourse semantics and nominal group systems.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin switches between 'identification' and 'tracking' as if they are equivalent, without providing any supporting argument.  This might be seen as a variant of the logical fallacy known as proof by assertion.  See the previous post for the distinction between the two.

[2] In SFL theory, the 'definite/indefinite' contrast is theorised as the contrast between specific and non-specific DEIXIS in the system of DETERMINATION (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 366).  Its inclusion here demonstrates that Martin has confused the (structural) nominal group system with the (non-structural) system of cohesive reference.  It will be seen that this misunderstanding pervades this chapter and further undermines the theoretical validity of his system of IDENTIFICATION.

[3] In SFL theory, there is no "article system", because 'article' is form (a word class), not function.

[4] Given that Tagalog has specific Deictics and pronouns, it is likely that it is these that serve the function of demonstrative and personal reference.

[5] If it is true that 'the Theme in Tagalog is almost always definite', then the unlikely claim is that the nominal groups realising Theme almost never have non-specific Deictics; that is, the counterparts of English each, every, both, all, neither, no, either, some, any, etc.

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