Friday, 21 August 2015

Misconstruing Circumstantial Comparison As Conjunctive Comparison

Martin (1992: 258-9):
Equally serious is Rhetorical Structure Theory's claim that conjunctive relations in text can be reduced to a single chain.  The short-comings of this position can be demonstrated with respect to [4:3] above.  Consider first the relationship between clause complexes 2 and 3:
[4:3] 2.c. Modern capitalism thrives on expansion and credit,
           d. and without them it shrivels.
        3.e. Equally however, it requires the right context,
           f. which is an expanding world economy:
          g. a national economy is distinct and severable from other national economies in some senses but not all. 
These are simultaneously related through internal comparison and concession.  The third clause complex is assigned the same status in the argument as the second through the internal comparative conjunction equally, at the same time as it is related to it by however: 'although I've just argued that modern capitalism thrives on expansion and credit and without them shrivels, it is equally important to say that it requires the right context, which is…'.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The conjunctive relation here is neither comparison nor concession, and there is only one relation, not two.  The conjunctive relation, which is marked by however, is extension: addition: adversative ('on the other hand'), not concessive ('despite this').

[2] The adverb — not conjunction — equally functions experientially as a circumstance of Manner: comparison.  Like all circumstances of Manner, it 'construes the way in which the process is actualised' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 267), as demonstrated by its unmarked textual agnate:
However, it equally requires the right context.
The circumstantial Adjunct equally also contributes to the texture structurally, as marked Theme, while the conjunctive Adjunct however contributes non-structurally, as a marker of cohesive conjunction.  (The punctuation also suggests both are packaged as contrastive New information.)

the right context
circumstantial Adjunct
conjunctive Adjunct
Manner: comparison

Process: relational
Theme: marked

[3] If this were the meaning, then the function of equally would be interpersonal, not logical (or textual), since it enacts an evaluation of the proposition.

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