Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Misconstruing 'A Realises B' As 'A Makes B Come To Be'

Martin (1992: 378):
Clearly this chapter has meant a number of things that have never been meant before; it has been involved in constructing the field of lexical relations (point (ii) above) as much as realising immanent meanings that have been previously construed.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As the critiques of this chapter demonstrate, there are valid reasons why these things 'have never been meant before'.  This chapter is purported to model experiential semantics, but instead:
  • confuses two lexicogrammatical dimensions: lexical cohesion (textual metafunction) and lexis (delicacy),
  • confuses semantics with context (field),
  • models experiential structure as logical and interpersonal relations between units that are defined according to a misapplication of expansion relations.
[2] In 'point (ii) above', A realises B is interpreted as A constitutes B, which is, in turn, glossed as A makes B come to be.  In such an interpretation, the intensive identifying process of A realises B:

Process: relational: intensive: symbol

is misconstrued as the caused existential process A makes B come to be:

come to be

In SFL theory, this gloss is closer in meaning to the process of instantiation, where potential is actualised ('made actual'). However, instantiation is not an interstratal relation.

[3] The notion of 'realising immanent meanings that have been previously construed' relates to the distinction, in logogenesis, between recycling already codified meanings and constructing new ones.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 24):
The production of discourse by an individual speaker or writer can be seen as a dialectic between these two semiotic activities: between (i) recycling elements, figures and sequences that that individual has used many times before, and so for him or her are already fully codified, and (ii) constructing new ones that are being codified for the first time (and some of which may remain codified for future use — especially with a child who is learning the system).

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