Monday, 13 July 2015

Rebranding Grammatical Relations As Discourse Semantic Relations

Martin (1992: 217):
Internal relations are generally interpretable as "cohesive", obtaining between clause complexes rather than within.  Even where conjunctions that are externally hypotactic are used, the nature of the internal and external dependency is not the same.  The externally connected clause complex in [4:133] below for example is reversible, whereas the internally related clauses in [4:134] are not.
[4:133]  Dinner's ready
              except that the rice isn't quite done.  
[4:134]  You could call people to dinner,
              except that they're not all here.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Internal relations between clauses in a nexus are those where the beta-clause relates to the enactment of the proposition realised by the alpha-clause rather than to the figure it represents, as in if it's not a personal question, are you a virgin? (Monty Python Life Of Brian).  See Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 419).

[2] Viewing expansion relations from the point of view of conjunctions — the practice in most of this chapter — is the view 'from below'.  In SFL theory, priority is given to the view 'from above', since a functional theory, in contradistinction to a formal theory, gives priority to function over form.

[3] Reversibility does not differentiate the two clause complexes.  Thematisation of the beta-clause is equally possible for both complexes:
  • Except that the rice isn't quite done, dinner's ready.
  • Except that they're not all here, you could call people to dinner.
Any perceived "resistance" in the second arises mainly from the shift of personal reference (they) from the more usual anaphoric to the less usual cataphoric.

The sequencing of clauses in a complex is a matter of textual (metafunctional) meaning; it is not a difference in the nature of the logical dependency.

[4] In SFL theory, the relation between the clauses in both cases is extension: subtractive variation (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 405).

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