Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Confusing Immanent Textual Reference With Transcendent Ideational Denotation

Martin (1992: 123):
Forward reference between groups is cohesive and will be referred to as cataphora, narrowing Halliday & Hasan's (1976: 72) definition in order to oppose the term to esphora.  This cohesive cataphora is realised by proximate demonstratives (this/these) and presumes text, not participants:
[3:55] This is what bothers me —
           you can't trust them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As previously explained here, Martin's theoretically unmotivated rebranding of structural cataphora as esphora is poor theorising on several counts, not least because, although structural cataphora is a type of endophora, the term 'esphora' is equivalent to its opposite, 'exophora' (the prefix es- derives from Latin ex-).

[2] According to the source of Martin's ideas, Halliday & Hasan (1976: 68), contrary to Martin's claim, the only demonstrative that makes cataphoric reference to extended text is the singular form this.  On the other hand, the reader is invited to consider whether that can also serve this function, as in:

That is what bothers me —
           you can't trust them.

[3] The opposition 'text vs participant' betrays Martin's misunderstanding of textual reference as ideational denotation of meanings (participants) outside language (texts).  The inconsistencies here  with SFL theory are thus metafunctional (textual vs ideational) and epistemological (immanent vs transcendent perspectives on meaning).

Misunderstanding The Interpersonal Function Of Embedding

Martin (1992: 123):
Esphora is a very common way of introducing participants to a text; … Du Bois (1980:224-225) suggests that this strategy is used when a Qualifier gives enough information to identify a participant and when that information is "not particularly noteworthy" (i.e. not worth negotiating and so embedded; see Chapter 2 above).

Blogger Comments:

[1] The claim Du Bois (1980: 223-224) makes is:
One cannot introduce an unknown woman into a conversation with the sentence
(55) The woman Bill married last night was nasty to him
in part because the new information contained in the relative clause is too noteworthy to be presupposed.
To be clear, this is a bare assertion, unsupported by evidence from corpora, and more prescription than description.

[2] On the one hand, Martin here misunderstands 'noteworthy' as "negotiation worthy", and on the other hand, he misunderstands the interpersonal function of embedding rank units, which is to remove them from the line of negotiation (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 171), not to present them as not worth negotiating.

The Inconsistencies Created By Rebranding Structural Cataphora As Esphora

Martin (1992: 123):
Endophoric reference typically involves presuming information from the preceding co-text (anaphora) or from the following co-text. Where presumed information follows, it usually appears quickly, either within the structure of the same nominal group, or in the same or an adjacent clause complex — otherwise participant identification would break down. As Halliday & Hasan (1976: 72-3) point out, the always points forward structurally, to information in modifying elements within the same nominal group, typically the Qualifier. This forward reference within the same nominal group will be referred to as esphora, adapting slightly a term from Ellis (1971).

Blogger Comments:

Martin's rebranding of structural cataphora as esphora is poor theorising on several counts.

Firstly, although structural cataphora is a type of endophora, the term 'esphora' is equivalent to its opposite, 'exophora' (the prefix es- derives from Latin ex-).

Secondly, the term 'cataphora' means forward pointing, and so is the general term that subsumes the more delicate term 'structural cataphora'.  Martin's rebranding fails to recognise this relation of delicacy.

Thirdly, the rebranding is made from the perspective of the view 'from below', that is: in terms of how each is realised in form — ± within nominal group — instead of from the functional perspective, 'from above', that is: in terms of the function (cataphoric reference) being realised.

Finally, even in the absence of the above-mentioned inconsistencies, the rebranding provides no explanatory advantage, and so is unmotivated theoretically.  It merely puts Martin's stamp on a distinction already devised in the work of Halliday & Hasan.

Misunderstanding Homophoric Reference As Its Opposite

Martin (1992: 122-3):
Generic reference is not treated as a type of homophora because definite and indefinite articles function as alternative realisations (cf. the discussion of the realisation of deserts in [3:16] above); generic reference depends on knowledge of the language and culture as a whole, not knowledge of the relevant cultural context.  Note the contrast between [3:51] and [3:52]: generic reference does not presume the identity of the manager of a particular company the way homophoric reference does.
[3:51]      The/a manager functions as a kind of supervising executive…
[3:52]      Will you please put me through to the manager right away?

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands homophoric reference.  As the term homophora suggests, this is reference that is 'self-pointing', and so self-specifying.  Halliday & Hasan (1976: 71) use it for exophoric reference that 'does not depend on a specific situation'.  Here Martin misinterprets it to mean the exact opposite.

[2] Here again, inconsistent with the functional model of SFL theory, Martin takes the view 'from below' (realisations) instead of the perspective 'from above'.

[3] To be clear, the indefinite article does not function as a reference item, since it does not signal that the identity of an item is recoverable.  As previously explained, one source of Martin's confusion in this regard is his confusion of nominal group (interpersonal) deixis with textual reference.

[4] This demonstrates that Martin is concerned with reference in the sense of ideational denotation ("the realisation of deserts"), not in the sense of textual reference and the signalling of identifiability.  The confusion is primarily one of metafunction.

[5] Here Martin makes the same contrast as his source, Halliday & Hasan (1976), and justifies his rebranding of their terms by misinterpreting one of theirs:

Halliday & Hasan (1976)
Martin (1992)
situationally specific
not situationally specific
exophoric: homophoric

Reasoning 'From Below' Instead Of 'From Above' And A Self-Contradiction

Martin (1992: 122):
The analysis being presented here needs to be contrasted with that of Halliday and Hasan (1976: 71-4) who treat homophoric reference as a type of exophora, and who classify generic reference realised by the as a kind of homophora.  Homophora is distinguished from exophora/endophora here because its realisation includes the class of proper names, which class is not used exophorically or endophorically; in other respects the realisation of homophora, exophora and endophora overlaps.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is reasoning 'from below', in terms of realised forms, instead of 'from above', in terms of the function realised.  This is inconsistent with a functional model of language, where priority is given to the view 'from above' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 49).

[2] As previously explained, the notion of proper names "referring" confuses ideational denotation for textual reference.  The confusion is thus one of metafunction.  On the other hand, even in its own terms, Martin's claim that proper names are "not used exophorically" — i.e. 'pointing outward from the text' — is inconsistent with his claim on the previous page (p121):
As noted above, proper names regularly depend on information retrieved from the context of culture.

Misconstruing Context As Language And Material Setting Instead Of Culture [updated]

Martin (1992: 122):
Where participants are not inherently given, reference must be made to the context of situation, which can be divided into two parts: verbal (co-text) and non-verbalTechnically reference to the co-text is referred to as endophora and reference to the non-verbal context as exophora.

Blogger Comment:

[1] This again confuses ideational denotation with textual reference.  Reference is concerned with  a type of textual status, identifiability, not with the experiential identity of participants.  The confusion is one of metafunction.

[2] This misunderstands the context of situation as
  • instance of language (co-text) and 
  • its material setting.
To be clear, the context of situation is an instance of the culture that is realised by an instance of language (text).  Context and language are different levels of symbolic abstraction.

[3] To be clear, 'exophoric reference means that the identity presumed by the reference item is recoverable from the environment of the text' and 'enodophoric reference means that the identity presumed by the reference item is recoverable from within the text itself – or, to be more precise, from the instantial system of meanings created as the text unfolds' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 624-5).