Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Problems In Construing Cohesive Ties As Identification Structure

Martin (1992: 23-4):
Introducing/presuming oppositions of this kind are one resource for constructing discourse structure in text (for producing what Halliday and Hasan refer to as cohesive ties).  Read as texts, the proportionalities reviewed above display three structures of this kind:
a robot
a robot
a robot
the android
this model
What kind of structures are these?  If we try to relate structure of this kind to those we are familiar with from grammar, then they are more closely related to univariate structures than multivariate ones.  They are open-ended, with the same type of relation between elements potentially occurring over again and over again; a cohesive chain such as a robot-the android-it-it-the robot in other words is more like a clause complex than a clause.  It is (semantic) interdependency that is relevant here, not constituency.
Within univariate structures, the analogy is with hypotaxis.  Presuming items are semantically dependent on the information they presume, with presumed information functioning as a kind of Head.

Blogger Comments:

[1] No argument is provided to support the claim that these relations are structures.  The relations are presumed to be structures and the question then is 'what type?'.  This is the logical fallacy known as 'begging the question':
The fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, is committed when a proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.
[2] Again, android and model are related to robot by lexical cohesion (Martin's ideation) not reference (Martin's identification).  Anaphoric reference is realised only by the grammatical items itthe and this.  That is, two distinct types of cohesion are being confused for the purposes of establishing a model of 'discourse structure'.

[3] There are two immediate problems with using interdependency and univariate structures as a model of these relations.

The first problem is the theoretical inconsistency of construing what is purported to be a structure of the textual metafunction in terms of a principle and structure type of the logical metafunction.  Martin's identification is proposed to be a discourse semantic system of the textual metafunction.

The second problem is the absence of structure in these relations.  Univariate structures are structures because they involve units related by interdependency in unit complexes: clauses in clause complexes, and so on.  Nothing analogous to a unit complex is proposed here.  And, considering the first problem, anything corresponding to a unit complex would be a logical structure, not a textual one.