Sunday, 3 May 2015

Misunderstanding The Function Of Personal Reference Items

Martin (1992: 111):
Where names are either not available or inappropriate, signs will be selected that have not been tagged for specific individuals.  Where number, gender and case are sufficient to identify the participant in question, personal pronouns will be used (excluding the generalised pronoun one, which is not phoric): I, me, mine, my; we, us, ours, our; you, yours, your; he, him, his; she, her, hers, her; they, them, theirs, their; it, its.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here the notion of reference is again that of the transcendent orientation to meaning in Martin's source, Du Bois (1980), where language is held to refer to independently existing labels outside language.  This is not reference in the SFL sense, and its orientation to meaning is inconsistent with the immanent orientation on which all of SFL theory is founded.  Moreover, in this instance, it misunderstands the textual function of reference items, since it misattributes their use to the unavailability or inappropriateness of personal names. 

[2] This misunderstands the function of personal co-reference items.  They do not identify a participant (experiential metafunction); they present the identity of an element as recoverable (textual metafunction).

[3] Trivially, possessive adjectives are not pronouns.

[4] To be clear, the pronoun one can function as a reference item, as when it refers to the speaker or addressee.

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