Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Misunderstanding Homophoric Reference As Its Opposite

Martin (1992: 122-3):
Generic reference is not treated as a type of homophora because definite and indefinite articles function as alternative realisations (cf. the discussion of the realisation of deserts in [3:16] above); generic reference depends on knowledge of the language and culture as a whole, not knowledge of the relevant cultural context.  Note the contrast between [3:51] and [3:52]: generic reference does not presume the identity of the manager of a particular company the way homophoric reference does.
[3:51]      The/a manager functions as a kind of supervising executive…
[3:52]      Will you please put me through to the manager right away?

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands homophoric reference.  As the term homophora suggests, this is reference that is 'self-pointing', and so self-specifying.  Halliday & Hasan (1976: 71) use it for exophoric reference that 'does not depend on a specific situation'.  Here Martin misinterprets it to mean the exact opposite.

[2] Here again, inconsistent with the functional model of SFL theory, Martin takes the view 'from below' (realisations) instead of the perspective 'from above'.

[3] To be clear, the indefinite article does not function as a reference item, since it does not signal that the identity of an item is recoverable.  As previously explained, one source of Martin's confusion in this regard is his confusion of nominal group (interpersonal) deixis with textual reference.

[4] This demonstrates that Martin is concerned with reference in the sense of ideational denotation ("the realisation of deserts"), not in the sense of textual reference and the signalling of identifiability.  The confusion is primarily one of metafunction.

[5] Here Martin makes the same contrast as his source, Halliday & Hasan (1976), and justifies his rebranding of their terms by misinterpreting one of theirs:

Halliday & Hasan (1976)
Martin (1992)
situationally specific
not situationally specific
exophoric: homophoric

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