Friday, 23 October 2015

Relocating A Subset Of Manner Circumstances To The Verbal Group

Martin (1992: 316):
Adverbial realisations of manner are probably better treated as enhancements of events (at verbal group rank) rather than of processes (clause rank).  This brings out the semantic continuity at group rank between modifying nouns and modifying verbs:
careful player : play carefully ::
hungry child : eat hungrily ::
fast track : run fast ::
intense pressure: write intensely

Blogger Comment:

The proposal here is to treat meaning differently on the basis of how it is realised in wording.  That is, it is theorising that gives priority to the view 'from below'.  In SFL theory, priority is given to the view 'from above': the meaning being realised in wording.

As might be expected, it creates a host of theoretical inconsistencies, as well as making the theory less parsimonious.  Two examples:
  • while 'manner' realised by adverbial groups — quality, comparison and degree — is treated as realised in the function structure of the verbal group, 'manner' realised by prepositional phrases — means, quality, comparison and degree — is treated as realised in the function structure of the clause, despite the fact that they all 'construe the way in which the process is actualised' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 267);
  • the experiential structure of the verbal group is made more complicated, just for this subset of instances, adding an extra element — one that is realised by a rank-shifted adverbial group embedded in the structure of the verbal group.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 267) explain the reason for the different realisations of Manner as follows:
Manner comprises four subcategories: Means, Quality, Comparison, Degree … Means is close to the participant rôle of Agent and Comparison is like a participant in a clause with the same type of process, whereas Quality and Degree are like features of the process itself. These differences in status are reflected in realisational tendencies: Means and Comparison tend to be realised by prepositional phrases, whereas Quality and [Degree] tend to be realised by adverbial groups.