Thursday, 31 December 2015

Misrepresenting Grammatical Metaphor

Martin (1992: 401):
Grammatical metaphor, like interaction patterns, will be interpreted as a process here, rather than as a synoptic system taking its place alongside the text forming systems proposed for English above.  Metaphorically speaking, it is part of the conversation that must go on among text forming systems across strata if meanings are to be integrated in contextually effective ways. … The gatekeeping function of grammatical metaphor is incorporated as part of English Text's classification of text forming resources in Table 6.12.

Table 6.12. Grammatical metaphor as a texturing interface
Discourse Semantics


grammatical metaphor
substitution & ellipsis


conjunction & continuity

tone concord & tone sequence


Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses realisation with instantiation.  Grammatical metaphor is an incongruent relation of realisation between semantics (meaning) and lexicogrammar (wording).  The deployment of grammatical metaphor during logogenesis is effected by the process of instantiation: the selection of systemic features and the activation of realisation statements.

[2] This is misleading.  Grammatical metaphor is not a relation between the text forming systems across strata.  In SFL theory, the text forming systems are those of the textual metafunction.  Grammatical metaphor involves incongruent realisations between ideational meaning and wording or between interpersonal meaning and wording.

[3] It is theoretically inaccurate to describe the function of grammatical metaphor as a "gatekeeping" interface between strata. Where gatekeeping is a filtering process, grammatical metaphor is an incongruent relation between two levels of symbolic abstraction: meaning and wording.

[4] In SFL theory, information is a system of the lexicogrammatical stratum.  Here it is again misconstrued as a system of the phonological/graphological stratum.  That is, it is misconstrued as expression rather than content.  The phonological systems that realise the grammatical system of information are tonicity (the placement of tonic prominence) and tonality (the placement of tone group boundaries).