Thursday, 7 May 2015

On Nominal Groups In Role Circumstances Not Realising Participants

Martin (1992: 131):
The last transitivity role to be considered is Circumstance [sic] of Role, which like the Attribute, simply functions to classify participants, not introduce them (Halliday 1985: 142):
[3:69]  She     arrived   as Dracula
            Actor  Process  Circumstance: role

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, Martin has defined 'participant' in terms of nominal groups functioning as the Agent or Medium of a clause.  This definition already excludes all circumstances.

[2] To be clear, Rôle construes the participant Attribute or Value circumstantially. Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 326):
This category construes the meanings ‘be’ and ‘become’ circumstantially; the Role corresponds to the Attribute or Value of an ‘intensive relational’ clause.
[3] In SFL theory, nominal groups inside prepositional phrases have the status of indirect participant (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 312).  And, even in Martin's terms (ideational denotation), such circumstances can "introduce a participant" whose identity can be subsequently presumed, as shown by:
As Dracula she arrived.  He had always been her favourite fictional character.
[4] This is very misleading, since it falsely implies that Halliday endorses Martin's misunderstandings of Attribute and Role, as well as misunderstanding of textual reference as ideational denotation ("introducing participants").

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