Sunday, 19 April 2015

Confusing Stratification With Instantiation: Register And Genre

Martin (1992: 26):
… a model of context will be built up by sketching in the connotative semiotics of register, genre and ideology.

Blogger Comments:

Neither register nor genre is a connotative semiotic in any way that is consistent with the meaning of the term, nor are they 'context' in any way that is consistent with the theoretical architecture of SFL theory.

A connotative semiotic (Hjelmslev 1943) is a semiotic system whose expression plane is a semiotic system. In the case of context, it means a higher–level system that has language as its plane of expression.

Context, as a connotative system above language, is a higher level of symbolic abstraction than language.  Register and genre, on the other hand, are not higher levels of symbolic abstraction than language.  Register and genre are functional varieties of language.  A variety of language is not more abstract than language, just as lorikeet, a variety of bird, is not more abstract than bird.

Register is located theoretically on the cline of instantiation.  It is 'text type', viewed from the system pole of the cline; just as 'text type' is register, viewed from the instance pole.

Registers vary with the situation types (the context) they realise.  This variation shows up in the different probabilities of instantiation in linguistic systems for different registers, which, in turn, realise different instantiation probabilities of context systems: field, tenor and mode.

Genres, as text types, are registers viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.

Generic stages, on the other hand, are units at the level of semantics (meaning), that vary according to text type.