Monday, 9 November 2015

The Avoidance Of Experiential Meaning In Discourse Semantics

Martin (1992: 325):
The level of discourse semantics is the least differentiated as far as ideational meaning is concerned.  This is mainly due to the fact that the description developed here has focussed on relationships between experiential meanings, rather than the experiential meanings themselves.  So while it was found important to distinguish between message parts and lexical items, no formal distinctions were drawn among message parts.  As work on discourse semantics continues, particularly with respect to grammatical metaphor, it will prove necessary to differentiate technically among the different meanings at this level.  As far as English Text is concerned, the distinctions made at the levels of field and lexicogrammar are rich enough to carry the burden of the text analyses presented below.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is a very serious shortcoming indeed, given the rôle of ideational meaning in the history of the human species.  Humans construe experience as ideational meaning.

[2] In SFL theory, ideational meaning includes both experiential meaning and logical meaning.  In the discourse semantics model, logical meaning was the subject of Chapter 4, whereas experiential meaning is the subject of this chapter, Chapter 5: Ideation.

[3] The question here is 'Why?'.  Why does a chapter on experiential meaning focus on the relationships between experiential meanings, rather than on the experiential meanings themselves, and why are the relationships those of other metafunctions, logical and interpersonal?  How is this a model of experiential semantics?  Why, also, are experiential meanings exported to context, which is outside language?  Is it because it provides a better model of semantics?

[4] Given that message parts are proposed as units of the discourse semantic stratum, whereas lexical items are the outputs of systems of the lexicogrammatical stratum, the difference between them is clearly defined by the architecture of SFL theory.

[5] Given that, in SFL theory, grammatical metaphor depends on the distinction between congruent and incongruent realisations of semantics in lexicogrammar, the discourse semantic model provides no means of distinguishing experiential metaphors.  On the weaker claim that grammatical metaphor is a matter of stratal tension, it will be seen from previous and future posts that there is little other than stratal tension between discourse semantics and lexicogrammar.

[6] This is because the distinctions made at the level of field are actually distinctions made at the level of semantics, as explained in many previous posts.  The misunderstanding of what stratification means is one of many major factors undermining the theoretical value of the entire discourse semantic model, as the reasoning throughout this blog demonstrates.