Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Misrepresenting Superordination (Hyponymy)

Martin (1992: 294-5):
Taxonomic relations are of two main types, depending on the kind of taxonomy they reflect.  Superordination relations reflect taxonomies based on subclassification (the "is a" relation); composition relations reflect taxonomies based on parts to wholes (the "has a" relation). … Some examples are presented in Table 5.4.


Table 5.4. Examples of superordination and composition

superordination
composition
‘people’
player–first seed
team–player
‘places’
line–service line
court–line
‘things’
official–referee
racquet–strings
‘actions’
hit–volley
‘quality’
excellent-agile



Blogger Comments:

[1] This is the distinction between delicacy (hyponymy) and composition (meronymy).  The general sense of hyponymy is 'be a kind of' whereas for meronymy it is 'be a part of'.  The logical organisation of the former is the expansion type: elaboration, while the logical organisation of the former is the expansion type: extension.  Both of these expansion types cross-classify with the distinction between identity and class membership (see Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 144-6).

[2] The claim here is that the person 'first seed' is a subclassification of the person 'player'.  Strictly speaking, 'first seed' identifies one of a group of players.  That is, it identifies a part of a whole.  The relation is therefore not one of superordination/delicacy/hyponymy.

[3] The claim here is that the quality 'agile' is a subclassification of the quality 'excellent'.  However, the two qualities are not even of the same type, since 'agile' is a behavioural propensity, whereas 'excellent' is an evaluation.  On the model of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 211), 'agile' is a quality of expansion, and 'excellent' a quality of projection.  The relation is therefore not one of superordination/delicacy/hyponymy.

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