Saturday, 7 November 2015

Self-Contradiction And Misunderstanding Stratification

Martin (1992: 324):
The description of ideational meaning has now been pursued on three levels: lexicogrammar, discourse semantics and field.  At its most basic level a field consists of activity sequences, which are in turn composed of activities, which are themselves made up of actions configuring with people, places and things, all four of which components may be configured with qualities.  Activity sequences stand in an unmarked relation relation to temporally sequenced clause complexes in lexicogrammar;

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, ideational meaning is located on one stratum of the stratification hierarchy, semantics, not three.  Meaning can be viewed from the other levels, from above (context) or from below (lexicogrammar), as well as from its own level — the trinocular perspective — but that is not what has been pursued here.  In the discourse semantics model, instead, because the SFL notion of strata as different levels of symbolic abstraction is not understood:
  • relations at one level (lexicogrammar) are misconstrued as obtaining between units two levels higher in symbolic abstraction (context) — a level, which in SFL theory, is not even within language;
  • context (field) is misconstrued as a level of language; and
  • ideational semantics is misconstrued as field.

[2] Trivially, field is not a level; it is the ideational dimension of a level (context).

[3] These "field" units correspond to the orders of phenomena in the ideational semantics of SFL theory: sequences ('activity sequences'), figures ('activities') and elements, which include processes ('actions'), participants ('people', 'things' and 'qualities') and circumstances ('places').

[4] This continues the terminological confusion of using 'unmarked' for 'congruent' relations across strata.  Moreover, since activity sequences are misconstrued as being at the level of context, the intervening level, discourse semantics, is omitted from this stratal relation.

[5] This is even inconsistent with Martin's own observations:
  • 'the most common conjunction relating activities in an activity sequence is and, alongside the much more occasional realisation of temporal succession' (1992: 322);
  • 'in the following text for example, one activity follows another by law; in scientific discourse this relation is made explicit through conditional consequential conjunctions (typically if/then)' (1992: 323).

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