Saturday, 28 May 2016

Misconstruing Degrees Of Abstraction

Martin (1992: 518):
This crossclassification of mode by MOOD is outlined in Table 7.6.

Table 7.6. Degrees of abstraction for proposals and propositions

running commentary
We are doing.

We’ll just do.

projected instruction
S/he told me to do.
I/we did.

implication sequence
You do.
It does.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, proposals and propositions are classifications of speech functions (semantics), not mood (lexicogrammar).  The confusion is stratal.

[2] The proposed mode features of monitoring, reconstructing and generalising are not degrees of abstraction — whether or not they are distinguished by tense.  Different levels of abstraction can be construed as identifying relations, with the lower level as Token and the higher level as Value.  This is not the case with monitoring and reconstructing or with reconstructing and generalising.  As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 615) point out:
General terms are not necessarily abstract; a bird is no more abstract than a pigeon.

[3] See the most recent previous posts for critiques of these text types cross-classified for "mood" and mode features.

The fundamental confusion here is that the discussion is presented as theorising mode, the systems of the textual metafunction at the level of context.  Here, instead, the discussion is concerned with the interpersonal dimension of linguistic content — semantics (speech function) and lexicogrammar (mood) — of registers.  The confusion is thus simultaneously along three theoretical dimensions: stratificationmetafunction and instantiation.

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