Monday, 6 June 2016

Misconstruing Lower And Higher Orders Of Experience As Higher & Lower Levels Of Symbolic Abstraction

Martin (1992: 521):
Participation may allow room for the construction of an additional field if the activity sequence in which the speakers/listeners are involved is not too engaging (e.g. chatting while washing up).  The notion of first (washing up) and second (what the chat is about) order field has been used for texts of this kind (Halliday 1978: 144).*
* Endnote #19 (p589):
It has also been used for distinguishing the field of a review (first order) from the field of the text being reviewed (second order), which is a different distinction involving what can be conceived of metaphorically as projection.  English Text's distinction between genre and field makes it unnecessary to use the concepts of first and second order field to distinguish a discussion (genre) about a football game from the game itself (field: activity sequence).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands orders of experience.  Both instances involve the distinction between first and second order experience, and the theoretical relation between orders of experience is projection — it is not metaphorical.

[2] This is inconsistent with the notion of first and second order field.  In Martin's model, genre and field are related stratally, so the relation between them is realisationelaboration + identity — whereas the relation between orders of experience is projection.  Moreover, Martin misconstrues the lower order of experience (first order field) as his higher level of semiotic abstraction (genre).

These inconsistencies are further multiplied by the inconsistencies entailed by Martin misconstruing field as register, instead of context, and register and genre as context, instead of language.

[3] The absurdity here is made patently obvious by tabulating the confusions as follows:

SFL Theory
Martin (1992)
(ideational semiotic context)
higher order
lower stratum
field (register)
a game of football
projected by
lower order
higher stratum
a discussion of that game of football

On Martin's model, a game of football — people running around kicking a ball — is 'register', and the game realises a discussion of itself.

[4] This confuses the material order (what people do) with the semiotic order (what people say).

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