Sunday, 13 September 2015

Misconstruing The Difference Between Lexical Item And Grammatical Word

Martin (1992: 290-1):
The distinction within a systemic model between lexical item and word means that in principle cohesion analysis is not tied to orthographic word boundaries.  Phrasal verbs for example can be taken as single lexical items. …
Just how far this notion of a lexical item could be pushed however, remains unclear. …
The problem is that if strong mutual expectancy is used to define lexical items, where does one stop?  If phrasal verbs are treated as single lexical items, then what about Process Range structures
And if Process Range structures, such as these, what about Process and Medium
Or Process and Circumstance (of location, with deixis-less destinations) …
The point is that the distinction between word and idiom is a gradient one, and that distinguishing word from lexical item does not determine where the line between the two is drawn.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misrepresents the distinction between lexical item and (grammatical) word as a question of how many words make up a lexical item.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568):
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical [lexical item] and one grammatical [word rank].
[2] The view of lexical items presented here is from below (graphology) and the syntagmatic axis (word boundaries).  In SFL theory,  lexical items are specified paradigmatically, by combinations of the most delicate features of lexicogrammatical systems.

[3] In SFL theory, strong mutual expectancy is not used to define lexical items.  This misconstrues lexical items as a syntagmatic relation.  See [2].

[4] Here combined elements of grammatical structures are being used to raise doubts on the (misconstrued) notion of the lexical item.  The purpose of doing so is to justify an approach based on a misconstrued notion of 'field'.  See following posts.

[5] The distinction between word and idiom is irrelevant to the distinction between word and lexical item.  Again, idioms, in Martin's words 'frozen collocations', takes a syntagmatic perspective on the issue.