Sunday, 15 May 2016

Misunderstanding Mode

Martin (1992: 509-10):
Experientially mode mediates the semiotic space between action and reflection. Exemplifying again from [4:2], for the most part this text is constitutive of its field, which it generalises as an abstract procedure.  For this reason the processes are for the most part timeless (i.e. simple present tense in English) and the participants involve generic or generalised reference.  From [4:17tt] however, through to [4:17bbb], the text shifts its mode and becomes dependent on another text — the imaginary representation of the showing area on the coffee table to which the speaker refers exophorically: here, that way, like that, over there.  Correspondingly, the tense shifts as well, from simple present to present in present (is standing), as it has occasionally elsewhere in the text ([4:2e, h, j, z, gg]).  The text in other words becomes more dependent on its contextmore a part, and less purely constitutive of what is going on.  Putting this in general terms, mode mediates contextual dependency — the extent to which a text constructs or accompanies its field.


So, if your judge is standing here,


we walk away from him that way.

That is [[so the judge can get the hind movement of your dog]].

Then we usually walk sideways like that


so as he can see [[the dog moving all over]]


and then we walk back to the judge


so as he can see the front movement.

After that he usually tells you


to wait over there

Blogger Comments:

[1] The notion that mode "mediates" is mistaken and leads to multiple confusions, as shown in previous posts.  To be clear, one of the dimensions of mode is the cline from language in action to language in reflection (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 354).

[2] The text does not "generalise" its field as an abstract procedure.  In terms of mode (Martin's genre) the text is a recount of a (concrete) procedure.  In terms of field, the subject matter of the text is dog shows.

[3] A text does not 'shift its mode' when it is accompanied by gestures.  A spoken text ± gestures is a spoken text.

[4] The spoken text is not dependent on the gestures that accompany it.  The truth is the exact opposite: it is the gestures that are dependent on the spoken text for their interpretation.  The independence of the spoken text is demonstrated by the intelligibility of the written version — exophoric references notwithstanding.

[5] This claim is not supported by the data.  Of the three instances of exophoric reference, the tense changes only once: in the first.

[6] This misconstrues synonymy (part /constitutive) as antonymy (more a part /less constitutive).

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