Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Misconstruing First Order Field As Its Semantic Description [1]

Martin (1992: 292):
Halliday's notion of field will be developed here by defining fields as sets of activity sequences oriented to some global institutional purpose.  Examples include linguistics, tennis, cooking, wine making, gardening, dog breeding, film, architecture, sewing, car racing, philosophy, sailing, building, chess, war, politics, religion and so on.
A given institution comprises a large number of different activity sequences, where these are realised linguistically through temporally ordered chains of Process and Medium with their attendant participant and circumstantial roles.  Tennis for example includes, among other activity sequences, playing coaching, commenting, analysing, viewing, training, club meetings, tournament presentations, interviews, grading, and so on.  The participants and processes in these are overlapping, not identical.  At the same time, each of these activities participates in an overall institutional focus — that of making it possible for people to enjoy in diverse ways a game played with strung raquets [sic] and a furry hollow ball.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This defines field only as first order field (what's going on), but exemplifies it largely in terms of second order field (what it's about).  That is, it is inconsistent in terms of orders of experience.

[2] This misconstrues (the linguistic realisation of first order) field as semantic descriptions of 'what's going on'. That is, if the field is 'someone predicting the weather', then the claim is that this is realised linguistically as participant^process^participant. In other words, the theoretical characterisation of the field is treated as text to be analysed semantically. On the SFL model, the field of weather prediction is realised in the language that realises the weather prediction.

[3] In SFL theory, 'chains of Process and Medium with their attendant participant and circumstantial roles' are modelled as sequences of figures, but they are not limited to temporal relations.  They involve the full range of expansion and projection types.  The depiction of 'activity sequences' as only 'temporally ordered' demonstrates that field is here misconstrued as semantic descriptions of temporally ordered social activities.