Saturday, 2 May 2015

Rebranding Comparative Reference As 'Relevance Phoricity'

Martin (1992: 99-100):
The second type [of information that needs to be recovered from the context], relevance phoricity, signals that the identity of one or more participants related to the participant being realised is recoverable. In nominal groups this is realised through comparative and superlative constructions (for nominal group structure see Halliday 1985: 159-169):
RELEVANCE PHORICITY ('you know the identity of related participants')
[3:5]  The boy found the frog.
          There was another frog too.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This again confuses the recoverable identity ("types of information") with a purported type of reference ("relevance phoricity").

[2] This is merely anaphoric comparative reference, rebranded as 'relevance phoricity'.   Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 632-3) 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. Comparative reference items function in nominal and adverbial groups; and the comparison is made with reference either to general features of identity, similarity and difference or to particular features of quality and quantity.
[3] To be clear, superlatives do not realise comparative reference ("relevance phoricity").

[4] To be clear, as already explained, reference is not a function of nominal group structure.  The nominal group and the adverbial group are the domains in which comparative reference items occur.  Reference is cohesive, not structural.

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