Sunday, 3 May 2015

On Adjectives In "Generic Groups" And "Relevance Phoricity"

Martin (1992: 104):
Because adjectives typically have a classifying rather than a descriptive function in generic nominal groups (realising Classifier rather than Epithet in Halliday's 1985: 163-165 terms), relevance phoricity is less commonly realised than in specific groups. However it is possible…

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is a bear assertion (a guess) unsupported by evidence from corpora. According to Martin (1992 103):
Generic reference is selected when the whole of some experiential class of participants is at stake rather than just a manifestation of that class.
Martin's claim, then, is that when the whole of some experiential class of participants, such as 'people', is "at stake", rather than just a particular person, an adjective that modifies 'people' is more typically to function as a Classifier (e.g. 'boat people') than an Epithet (e.g. 'stupid people').

[2] To be clear, "relevance phoricity" is Martin's rebranding of his misunderstanding of Halliday's comparative reference and Martin's conclusion is based solely on the fact that 'Classifiers do not accept degrees of comparison' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 377).  However, comparative reference items are not limited to adjectives serving as Epithets, as demonstrated by such post-Deictics as same, similar, other, and nor are they even limited to nominal groups, as demonstrated by such adverbial groups as identically, similarly, otherwise; see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 626).

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