Thursday, 14 January 2016

Mistaking Ideational Metaphor For Metaphor

Martin (1992: 406):
All of the metaphorical examples presented in Table 6.15 involve nominalisation, the predominant semantic drift of grammatical metaphor in modern English.  Since nouns are fundamentally the output of experiential grammar this entails as well a skewing of all meaning towards the experiential.  Construing meaning as a thing in other words means construing text as material object — as a material part of the social reality it is simultaneously engaged in constructing (ideationally) and intruding upon (interpersonally).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is manifestly untrue.  The example in the table proposed as textual metaphor, this point, is clearly not a nominalisation.

[2] Nominalisation is a resource for ideational metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 656):
Nominalising is the single most powerful resource for creating grammatical metaphor. By this device, processes (congruently worded as verbs) and properties (congruently worded as adjectives) are reworded metaphorically as nouns; instead of functioning in the clause, as Process or Attribute, they function as Thing in the nominal group.
There are two motifs in the semantic drift of ideational metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 263-4):
It is possible to distinguish two predominant motifs in the phenomena characterised here: one major or primary and one minor or secondary one. (i) The primary motif is clearly the drift towards ‘thing’.  (ii) The secondary motif is what appears as a tendency in the opposite direction: the move from ‘thing’ into what might be interpreted as a manifestation of ‘quality’ (qualifying, possessive or classifying expansions of the 'thing').

[3] Nouns are not "fundamentally the output of experiential grammar".  Nouns are form not function.  Nouns realise elements of all metafunctions.

[4] Nominalisation does not entail "a skewing of all meaning toward the experiential".  Nominalisation is a resource for creating ideational metaphor.  The meanings that are incongruently realised in wording are (already) ideational meanings.  In ideational metaphor, the drift is from the logical to the experiential.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 293):
… the general tendency in the metaphorical move away from the congruent is away from the logical towards the experiential; and within the experiential towards the domain of participants in figures of being & having.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 642):
Within the ideational metafunction, the general effect of this realignment in the semantic system is a shift from the logical to the experiential — an experientialisation of experience. Thus logical sequences of figures are reconstrued as experiential configurations of elements.

[5] 'Construing meaning as thing' does not mean "construing text as material object"(!).  The reconstrual of experience through ideational metaphor objectifies our experience.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 548):
Grammatical metaphor objectifies our experience, transforming its being and happening into things; in so doing, it privileges order, since experience can now be categorised into classes and hierarchies of classes, which are significantly more determinate than the processes and properties favoured by the grammar in its congruent form.

[6] In SFL theory, the ideational metafunction is the dimension of language in its rôle of construing experience, not "constructing social reality".  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 7):
The ideational metafunction is concerned with construing experience — it is language as a theory of reality, as a resource for reflecting on the world.
The interpersonal metafunction is the dimension of language in its rôle of enacting interpersonal relations.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 7):
The interpersonal metafunction is concerned with enacting interpersonal relations through language, with the adoption and assignment of speech rôles, with the negotiation of attitudes, and so on — it is language in the praxis of intersubjectivity, as a resource for interacting with others.
Further clarifications:

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 264):
… the drift towards ‘thinginess’ is the culminating and most clearly articulated form of a shift which can be characterised in more general terms as a shift towards the experiential — towards that mode of construing experience that is most readily organised into paradigmatic sets and contrasts. Things are more easily taxonomised than qualities, qualities than processes, and processes more easily than circumstances or relations. Since the ‘noun-ness’ is being used to construe phenomena that start out as something else than a noun, metaphors will inevitably be abstract.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 265, 267): 
… by construing any phenomenon of experience as a thing, we give it the maximum potential for semantic elaboration. … the more structure that is to be imposed on experience the more pressure there is to construe it in the form of things.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 267):
But things are merely the end-point of the metaphoric scale… . Processes, though more constrained than things, still have more semantic potential than relators: they accommodate categories of time and phase, among others, and are construed in open lexical sets, whereas relators for closed systems. So there is pressure there too, to metaphorise conjunctions into verbs: then, so, because, before, therefore becoming follow, result, cause, anticipate, prove. (Circumstances are something of a special case because most of them already contain participants in minor, subsidiary processes — prepositional phrases in the grammar.) But it remains true that things are the most susceptible of being classified and organised into taxonomies; hence the primary motif of grammatical metaphor is that of construing a world in the form of things.

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