Saturday, 9 April 2016

Rhapsodising On Grammatical Metaphor

Martin (1992: 490):
The main resource for facilitating all this interaction is grammatical metaphor.  It is the scramblerit processes meaning in natural and unnatural ways, depending on what the texture demands.  It orchestrates the many to many relationships among discourse and lexicogrammatical meanings, thereby indefinitely expanding the scope of the content plane as a meaning making resource.  It provides the technology needed to predict and accumulate meanings.  It makes the text like a clause; it makes the clause like a text.  It thingises and naturalises, it dissembles and reveals.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is manifestly untrue, since all texts have texture, the property of being a text, even those that don't make use of grammatical metaphor.

[2] The word 'scramble' means, inter alia, to make (something) jumbled or muddled.  This is not what grammatical metaphor does.

[3] Grammatical metaphor, ideational and interpersonal, involves incongruent wordings of meanings.

[4] This continues the misunderstanding of the stratification of the content plane as two modules of meaning, instead of two levels of symbolic abstraction, namely: meaning (semantics) and wording (lexicogrammar).

[5] Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 626):
Systemically, metaphor leads to an expansion of the meaning potential: by creating new patterns of structural realisation, it opens up new systemic domains of meaning.  And it is the pressure to expand the meaning potential that in fact lies behind the development of metaphorical modes of meaning.
[6] This is manifestly untrue.  If it were grammatical metaphor that provided the "technology needed to predict and accumulate meanings", then writers and readers of texts without grammatical metaphor would not be able to "predict and accumulate meanings".

[7] See the previous critique of this misunderstanding here.

[8] This refers to ideational metaphor only, specifically nominalisation.

[9] Neither ideational nor interpersonal metaphor "naturalises".  Quite the reverse.  Ideational metaphor construes a model that is further removed from everyday experience than the congruent.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 646):
… grammatical metaphor of the ideational kind is primarily a strategy enabling us to transform our experience of the world: the model of experience construed in the congruent mode is reconstrued in the metaphorical mode, creating a model that is further removed from our everyday experience — but which has made modern science possible.
Interpersonal metaphors enacts a greater social distance between speaker and addressee than the congruent. Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 631):
The potential for negotiation in dialogue created by metaphors of mood is directly related to the contextual variables of tenor. These are usually discussed in terms of status, formality and politeness. What they have in common is a very general sense of the social distance between the speaker and the addressee. Here interpersonal metaphor is part of a principle of interpersonal iconicity: metaphorical variants create a greater semiotic distance between meaning and wording, and this enacts a greater social distance between speaker and addressee.

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