Thursday, 10 September 2015

Relocating Lexis Outside Language

Martin (1992: 289):
This raises the question as to what extent lexis can be treated as most delicate grammar while maintaining a lexicogrammar that is essentially neutral with respect to field. … One way of keeping the grammar neutral would be to locate specialised taxonomies in the register variable field, allowing the grammar to focus on field neutral oppositions.  This would mean for example that the similarity between morphology in linguistics and geology could be brought out in lexicogrammar and the differences between them in field taxonomies; similarly for cover in yachting and sleeping.  And analysts could make a principled decision as to whether they were analysing lexical cohesion with respect to lexicogrammatical taxonomies or field ones, depending on the purposes for which the analysis was designed.

Blogger Comments:

[1] 'Neutrality with respect to field' is irrelevant for elaborating lexis as most delicate grammar.  The lexicogrammar is the overall system of wording potential.  This misunderstanding seems to arise from giving priority to the view from below (e.g. the forms morphology, cover).

[2] This seriously misunderstands the meaning of the stratified model of SFL theory.  Field is not modelled as language; it is a higher level of symbolic abstraction than language: it is the ideational dimension of the culture construed as a semiotic system.  Locating lexical taxonomies outside language is a major category error.

[3] Construing field as a register variable confuses a higher level of symbolic abstraction than language, context, with a functional variety of language, a register.

Construing field variation as a register variable confuses instantial variation (e.g. situation type probabilities) with hyponymy (feature options in systems).

[4] The difference between morphology in the fields of linguistics and geology is characterised in the lexicogrammar — not field — by the different lexical features that specify them as distinct outputs.

[5] This confuses lexical cohesion with lexicogrammatical delicacy, and language with context.

In SFL theory, lexical cohesion is the use of repetition, synonymy, hyponymy, meronymy and collocation to establish non-structural textual relations.  A lexicogrammatical taxonomy, however, is a means of modelling the lexicogrammatical system.  A field taxonomy, on the other hand, is means of modelling the ideational dimension of contextnot lexicogrammar (nor even language).

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