Friday, 15 May 2015

Mistaking Manner For Extent And Confusing Circumstances With Comparative Reference Items

Martin (1992: 154):
Comparative adverbs realise relevance phoricity; they function as Circumstances [sic] of Extent and Manner in clause structure and presume events.  Both relevant events and supersets of events are presumed.  The network of oppositions is outlined in Fig. 3.16; typical realisations are shown in the network and illustrated in [3:94] through [3:99].
Extent [quantity:difference]
[3:94]
Ben ran five miles;
Carl ran farther.
Manner [quality:semblance]
[3:95]
Ben ran very fast;
Carl didn't run as fast.
Extent [quantity:difference:superset]
[3:96]
The runners ran long distances;
Carl ran farthest.
Manner [quality:difference:superset]
[3:97]
The sprinters ran fast heats;
Ben didn't run fastest.
Extent [quantity:purposive]
[3:98]
You had to set a record to place;
Ben ran fast enough.
Manner [quality:purposive]
[3:99]
You had to run a record time to win;
Carl ran too slow.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, 'relevance phoricity' is Martin's rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's (1976) comparative reference, misunderstood and relocated from non-structural lexicogrammar (cohesion) to structural discourse semantics.

[2] This mistakes circumstances of Extent and Manner (clause rank experiential functions) for comparative reference items (a non-structural textual functions).  Moreover, it will be seen below that none of the examples provided are instances of Extent.

To be clear, the grammatical domains of comparative adverbs that function as reference items are the nominal group and the adverbial group.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 633):
[3] The notion of "presuming events" — Martin is not referring here to the verbal group function 'Event' — demonstrates that Martin has little understanding of the principles underlying comparative reference.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: ) explain:
Whereas personals and demonstratives, when used anaphorically, set up a relation of co-reference, whereby the same entity is referred to over again, comparatives set up a relation of contrast. In comparative reference, the reference item still signals ‘you know which’; not because the same entity is being referred to over again but rather because there is a frame of reference – something by reference to which what I am now talking about is the same or different, like or unlike, equal or unequal, more or less.

[4] In addition to being devised on the basis of the above-mentioned theoretical misunderstandings, a number of further problems with the network in Figure 3.16 Phoric circumstances of extent and manner can be identified.
  • The system has no entry condition; the entry condition for IDENTIFICATION is 'participant', so including the entry condition would have exposed the theoretical inconsistency of having types of circumstance ('manner/extent') as a more delicate feature.
  • None of the features in the network have been argued for in the text, let alone validated on the basis of evidence.  On the contrary, they have merely been attached to the six examples as labels.
  • The more delicate features are distinctions in experiential meaning (quantity, quality, purposive), and the undefined term 'superset' derives from misconstruing ordinatives (last) and superlatives (fastest, farthest) as serving a comparative function.

[5] To be clear, these realisations are neither structural realisations (the dimension of axis) nor lexicogrammatical realisations (the dimension of stratification); they are merely examples of items that are said to serve the particular feature.

[6] To be clear, none of these is an instance of Extent.  The experiential function of farther, farthest and fast enough is Manner.

[7] To be clear, superlatives (farthest, fastest) do not function as comparative reference items.

[8] Here Martin misinterprets clause complexes as single clauses, and claims that the respective circumstances (fast enough, too slow) "presume" the respective purpose clauses (to place, to win).  However, in terms of cohesion, these are both instances of ellipsis, as restoring the elided items makes plain:
||| You had to set a record || to place. |||
|| Ben ran fast enough [[to place]]. || 
||| You had to run a record time || to win. |||
|| Carl ran too slow [[to win]]. ||
In terms of Martin's own model, these are instances of redundancy phoricity, not relevance phoricity — redundancy phoricity being Martin's rebranding of ellipsis-&-substitution, misunderstood as a type of reference, and relocated from non-structural lexicogrammar to structural discourse semantics.

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