Sunday, 31 July 2016

Misconstruing Behaviour As A Register Of Language

Martin (1992: 543):
Domestic sequences tend to be implicit — they are not usually written down, or taken notice of in any way by mature speakers, and are learned by doing, under the guidance of caregivers by children.

Blogger Comment:

Here 'sequences' refers to (material order) behaviour, not (semiotic order) language, nor the context realised by language.  The model being developed here is purported to be field, the ideational dimension of the culture as semiotic, realised in language, so the confusion is one of orders of experience.

The inconsistency is compounded by Martin's misconstrual of this behaviour as register, a subpotential of language.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Misconstruing Mode As Field

Martin (1992: 542):
Taking the nature of socialisation and lexical specialisation into account, a provisional classification of fields can be provided.  The first cut is between fields depending on oral transmission and those depending on writing; this opposes home, recreation and trades to public administration, humanities, social science and science (or in more general terms, oral cultures to literate ones).

Blogger Comments:

[1] The 'oral' vs 'writing' distinction is a distinction of mode (textual), not field (ideational).  The confusion is thus in terms of metafunction.

[2] Many trades, of course, require some form of (literate) tertiary education.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Why Chomskyan Linguistics Has Power

Martin (1992: 541-2):
Note that this taxonomy [Fig. 7.18 Superordination taxonomy for theories of language] is uninflected for power, which rests for obvious reasons with theories that naturalise discourses of ethnicity, gender, generation and class by positing an arbitrary relation between form and meaning, thereby rendering language a transparent conduit through which these discourses are poured.

Blogger Comments:

The claim here is that:
  1. Chomskyan Linguistics has power over other theories;
  2. Chomskyan Linguistics naturalises discourses of ethnicity, gender, generation and class;
  3. the means of this naturalisation is the construal of the relation between syntax and semantics as arbitrary;
  4. the result of this naturalisation by such means is that language is construed as a transparent conduit through which these naturalised discourses are poured;
  5. the reason why this should confer power on Chomskyan Linguistics is obvious.

= b
[[that this taxonomy is uninflected for power]]
for obvious reasons
theories [[[that naturalise discourses of ethnicity, gender, generation and class || by positing an arbitrary relation between form and meaning, || thereby rendering language a transparent conduit [[through which these discourses are poured]] ]]]]
Process: mental
Phenomenon: fact
Attribute: possession
Carrier: possessor

x b manner
x c result
discourses of ethnicity, gender, generation and class
an arbitrary relation
between form and meaning
a transparent conduit [[through which these discourses are poured]]



Thursday, 28 July 2016

Confusing Composition And Superordination

Martin (1992: 540-1):
As noted in Chapter 5, alongside activity sequences, the participants involved in sequences are organised into taxonomies of two basic kinds: composition and superordination.  The compositional taxonomy in Fig. 7.17 for members of an Australian linguistics department for example organises participants who play some part in all of the sequences reviewed above.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As noted previously here, Martin confuses composition with superordination taxonomies.

[2] This "compositional" taxonomy (meronymic) is largely one of superordination (hyponymy).  This can be demonstrated by presenting the claims made by Fig. 7.17:
  • an Australian linguistics department consists of two parts: salaried staff and students;
  • salaried staff consist of two parts: academic and non-academic;
  • academic consists of two parts: Head and scaled;
  • scaled consists of two parts: lecturing and tutoring;
  • lecturing consists of five parts: Professor, Associate Professor, Reader, Senior Lecturer and Lecturer;
  • tutoring consists of two parts: full-time and part-time;
  • full-time consists of two parts: Senior Tutor and Tutor;
  • non-academic consists of two parts: clerical and technological;
  • clerical consists of three parts: secretarial, administrative and keyboard operator;
  • technological consists of two parts: programmer and technician;
  • post-graduate consists of two parts: research and coursework;
  • research consists of two parts: PhD and MA;
  • MA consists of two parts: MA Hons and MA Pass;
  • undergraduate consists of four parts: I, II, III and IV Hons;
  • both II and III consist of two parts: pass and honours.

Cf. a spoon consists of two parts: the handle and the bowl.

[3] This is an error of Aristotelian logic.  Not all participants play some part in all of the sequences.  All participants play some part in some sequences.

[4] The confusion here is between playing a part in a sequence and being a part of a whole.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Misrepresenting Barthes And Confusing Material & Semiotic Orders Of Experience

Martin(1992: 538-9):
Focussing on narrative theory, Barthes does not take the step of theorising paradigmatic relations among activity sequences, for which the notion of field is developed here.  A field such as linguistics for example involves a large number of sequences: lecturing, evaluation, supervising, writing, editing, meetings, committees, seminars, conferences, research activities, referee's reports, community work, administration and so on.  More than one of these may well succeed another as a series of micro-sequences, but there is more to their interrelationships than this constituency analysis suggests.  All are related to participation in the field of linguistics, sharing a large number of taxonomies of both the superordinate and compositional variety.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misrepresents Barthes' sequences, which are language structures, as Martin's activity sequences, which are misconstrued by Martin as context, which in turn is misconstrued by Martin as register.  The confusion is thus simultaneously along the two theoretical dimensions of stratification and instantiation.

[2] This confuses what people do (lecturing etc.) with what people say (sequences). The confusion is thus between material and semiotic orders of experience.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Misrepresenting Barthes

Martin (1992: 538):
Barthes continues by pointing out that activity sequences have names, and may be encapsulated by the name to form part of another sequence.  This suggests in effect that the notion of constituency can be applied to the compositional relations among activity sequences (and Barthes in fact provides an appropriate tree diagram for the first episode of Goldfinger):
It (a sequence) is also founded a maximo: enclosed on its function, subsumed under a name, the sequence itself constitutes a new unit, ready to function as a single term in another, more extensive sequence.  Here, for example, is a micro-sequence: hand held out, hand shaken, hand released.  This Greeting then becomes a simple function: on the one hand, it assumes the rôle of an indice (flabbiness of Du Pont, Bond's distaste); on the other, it forms globally a term in a larger sequence, with the name Meeting, whose other terms (approach, halt, interpellation, sitting down) can themselves be micro-sequences. (1977: 102-3)
The meeting sequence in other words has as one of its nuclei another sequence — greeting:

meeting (greeting):
approach ^ halt ^ interpellation ^ (hand held out ^ hand shaken ^ hand released) ^ sitting down

Blogger Comments:

[1] For Barthes, it is a sequence of language that has a name.  Martin's activity sequence is misconstrued as context (field) which, in turn, is misconstrued as register.

[2] The (tautological) claim here is that part-whole relations (constituency) can be applied to part-whole (compositional) relations.

[3] To be clear, Barthes claim is that (micro-)sequences can be embedded in other sequences.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Not Acknowledging Barthes As Intellectual Source

Martin (1992: 537-8):
Barthes goes on to point out that sequences involve both expectancy and risk. Recognition of an activity sequence implies an expectation that one of its events will follow another, but the succession is not necessary.  It is always possible for expectations to be countered, which creates the context for concessive conjunctive relations. Counterexpectation is a critical feature of narrative genre (and one that does not come naturally to young writers who generally fail to put succession at risk):
However minimal its importance, a sequence, since it is made up of a small number of nuclei (that is to say, in fact of 'dispatchers'), always involves moments of risk and it is this that justifies analysing it.  It might seem futile to constitute into a sequence the logical succession of trifling acts which go to make up the offer of a cigarette (offering, accepting, smoking, lighting), but precisely at every one of these points, an alternative — and hence a freedom of meaning — is possible. … A sequence is thus, one can say, a threatened logical unit, this being its justification a minimo.  (1977: 102)

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin (1992: 322-4) proposes 'expectancy' as an activity sequence relation (e.g. here).  He does not acknowledge Barthes as the source of the idea.  At the symposium to honour the late Ruqaiya Hasan, Martin falsely accused Hasan of not acknowledging Mitchell as one of her sources (evidence here).

[2] The highly fanciful notion of meaning 'at risk' is finally clarified here for the first time and sourced to Barthes.  In terms of SFL theory, it simply means the speaker is always free to instantiate a different option during logogenesis.  The risk is to the feature and it is the risk of not being selected.   All features are thus "put at risk" outside the moment of instantiation.  "Pretentious?! Moi?!"

[3] The perspective on language here is that of the addressee, not the speaker.

[4] This is relevant only for the semantics of specific text types, mainly fictional.  The discussion here is purported to be establishing a model of field (context), the ideational dimension of cultural potential in general — which Martin misconstrues as register.

[5] In SFL theory, concessive conjunctive relations are a specific type of causal-conditional relation, served by items such as yet, still, though, despite this, however, even so, all the same, nevertheless (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 614).  Martin misunderstands and misapplies the concessive enhancement relation, as demonstrated, for example, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[6] It is worth pointing out that Barthes' construal of nuclei that make up a sequence as 'dispatchers' is imaginative fiction, not semiotic theory.  Barthes otherwise presents the relation as 'made up', but in sense of composition, not fiction.

[7] Barthes' claim is that it is the fact that the speaker is always free to instantiate a different option during logogenesis that justifies both the sequence and its analysis.  This is, of course, no less true, or false, of any instance of language.

[8] Note that, in this misquoting of Barthes, the carcinogenic cause of heart disease is not lit until after it is smoked.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Misconstruing Barthes' 'Sequence' As Field

Martin (1992: 537):
Barthes's sequence, which is equivalent to the notion of activity sequence used here, is defined as follows (his nuclei are roughly equivalent to the clause rank nuclear structures proposed in Chapter 5):
A sequence is a logical succession of nuclei bound together by a relation of solidarity (in the Hjelmslevian sense of double implication: two terms presuppose one another): the sequence opens when one of its terms has no solidary antecedent and closes when another of its terms has no consequent.  To take another deliberately trivial example, the different functions order a drink, obtain it, drink it, pay for it, constitute an obviously closed sequence, it being impossible to put anything before the order or after the payment without moving out of the homogeneous group 'Having a drink' (Barthes 1977: 101).

Blogger Comments:

[1] In terms of SFL theory, Barthes' notion of 'sequence' corresponds to a sequence of figures that lack cohesion with the surrounding co-text.  However, Martin's notion of 'activity sequence' corresponds to a sequence of figures without regard to (non-conjunctive) cohesion.  Further, in Martin's model, such semantic sequences are misconstrued as context (culture-as-semiotic), which, in turn, is misconstrued as register (subpotential of language).  This does, however, raise the question as to whether Barthes' 'sequence' is the unacknowledged source of Martin's 'activity sequence'.

[2] In terms of SFL theory, Barthes' notion of 'nuclei' corresponds to semantic figures.  However, in Martin's model, such semantic figures are misconstrued as 'clause rank structures' (lexicogrammar), which, in turn, are construed as (discourse) semantics.  This does, however, raise the question as to whether Barthes' 'nuclei' are the unacknowledged source of Martin's 'nuclear structures'.

[3] It is worth pointing out that, as stated, Barthes' notion of 'sequence' does not survive close scrutiny.  For example, if it only requires one of its terms to have no antecedent or consequent, then the integrity of a sequence is "only as strong as its weakest link".  Further the claim that it is 'impossible to put anything before the order or after the payment without moving out of the homogeneous group Having a drink' is clearly false, since the sequence could be preceded by offering to buy for friends, and followed by thanking the bartender, to name just two possibilities.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Misrepresenting The Distinction Between Fabula And Syuzhet

Martin (1992: 537):
Barthes's notion of sequence was developed in the context of studying the relations between story (alternatively fabula or histoire) and discourse (alternatively sjuzhet or discours) in narrative theory (see Toolan 1988: 9-11), a context very similar to that in which the field/genre distinction proposed here evolved in Australian educational linguistics.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  The distinction between fabula and syuzhet is not the distinction between story and discourse: 
Fabula and syuzhet are terms originating in Russian formalism and employed in narratology that describe narrative construction. Syuzhet is an employment of narrative and fabula is the chronological order of the events contained in the story. They were first used in this sense by Vladimir Propp and Viktor Shklovsky. The fabula is "the raw material of a story, and syuzhet, the way a story is organized.
[2] In SFL Theory, field is the ideational dimension of the culture as a semiotic system that has language as its expression plane, and genre is text type, which is register viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.

Martin's model of field, however, confuses field (context) with activity sequences (semantics) and miscontrues this confusion as register.

On the other hand, Martin's model of genre confuses text type (register) with text structure (semantics) and misconstrues this confusion as a level of context that is realised by his confused model of register.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Confusing Context With Extra-Linguistic Knowledge, Register And Semantics

Martin (1992: 537):
The notion of activity sequence has obvious affinities with various concepts developed in artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology (e.g. the frames, scripts, scenarios and schemata reviewed in Brown & Yule 1983: 236-70).  The most relevant articulation here however is that of Barthes (1966/1977: 101-4), of whose earlier work Brown and Yule make no mention.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The frames, scripts, scenarios and schemata reviewed in Brown & Yule are ways of 'representing background knowledge', 'knowledge of the world' (1983: 236-7), with an emphasis on the way knowledge of the world is stored in memory (ibid.).  That is, what, for SFL Theory is meaning potential, established ontogenetically, is construed, in such models, as extra-linguistic cognition.

As Martin conceives them, however, activity sequences are an entirely different matter.  For Martin, activity sequences are an aspect of field, the ideational dimension of context.  However, Martin's model is further complicated by the facts that
  • context (culture) is misconstrued as register (subpotentials of language), and
  • activity sequences are meanings (semantics) misconstrued as field (context).

[2] It is understandable that Brown & Yule (1983) did not review Barthes (1966/77) in this regard, since the former are concerned with models of extra-linguistic cognition, whereas the latter is concerned with a unit of language (the sequence).

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Misrepresenting Data & Confusing Strata

Martin (1992: 537):
Benson & Greaves (forthcoming) for example show that the lexical item hand in an introductory bridge manual has left collocates oriented to the organisation of participants in field: balanced hand, weak hand, first hand; to the right however hand collocates with lexical items oriented to activity: Take your tricks from the short hand first, Revalue your hand using dummy points, with a maximum hand, opener knows how high.  This organisation of fields as things and activities will be briefly reviewed below;

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, this is not cohesive collocation, merely the juxtaposition of lexical items.  The probability of left and right juxtapositions correlates with the probability of clause and group structures.

The left vs right difference relates to the unmarked realisation of a semantic Thing as Head of a nominal group serving as a participant.  Within nominal group structure, to the left, Thing is likely to be preceded by modifying Deictics, Numeratives, Epithets and Classifiers, and to the right, Thing is likely to be followed by the Process or minor Process of a Qualifier.  At clause rank, hand is likely to be Complement, and so followed, if at all, by an Adjunct.  In a clause nexus, hand is likely to be followed by the Theme of the following finite clause (e.g. opener), or Predicator of a non-finite clause (e.g. using).

[2] This confuses context with the language that realises context.  The confusion is thus along the dimension of stratification.  Specifically, it confuses field — what's going on (a reader learning how to play bridge) — with lexical items construing participants and processes in the text (lexicogrammar).

[3] This misrepresents the data.  Only 1/3 of the "activities" is a Process (using); the other 2/3 are a conjunctive Adjunct/relator (first) and a Senser participant (opener).

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Blurring The Distinction Between Realisation, Logogenesis And Instantiation

Martin (1992: 536-7):
Field is the contextual projection of experiential meaning and so alongside IDEATION puts at risk the clause rank systems TRANSITIVITY, CIRCUMSTANTIATION and AGENCY, as well as systems generating Numerative, Epithet, Classifier, Thing and Qualifier in nominal group structure and various other group/phrase systems, all of which need to be interpreted as embracing lexis as most delicate grammar; in addition, research into collocation patterns provides an important perspective on field's realisation (see Benson & Greaves 1981, 1992, forthcoming).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  Field is not the contextual projection of experiential meaning.  Field is the ideational dimension of context.  That is, it is application of the theoretical notion of the ideational metafunction to the culture as a semiotic system.

[2] As previously demonstrated, Martin's system of ideation, purported to be a model of experiential meaning on the discourse semantic stratum, is actually a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction at the level of grammar), lexis as most delicate grammar (lexicogrammatical delicacy), and logical relations between figure elements.

Martin here omits systems of the logical metfunction.  This would have required the inclusion of the discourse semantic system of conjunction, which, as previously demonstrated, is a confusion of clause complex relations (logical metafunction) and cohesive conjunction (textual metafunction), both of which are grammatical systems.

[3] Unhappily, the risk that semiotic systems face is never identified.

[4] To be clear, the clause rank system of transitivity includes the systems of agency and circumstantiation.  Circumstantiation refers to 'circumstantial transitivity' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 758).

[5] 'Systems generating structure' blurs the distinction between axial realisation, logogenesis and instantiation.  The relation between paradigmatic system and syntagmatic structure is realisation.  Structure realises system.  That is, they are in a relation of symbolic identity, with system as Value and structure as Token.

On the other hand, 'generating', in this sense, is modelled in SFL theory as logogenesis, the unfolding of text at the instance pole of cline of instantiation, as features are selected and realisation statements activated (the process of instantiation).

[6] This demonstrates a lack of understanding of the notion of lexis as most delicate grammar — as also demonstrated by its inclusion in Martin's model of experiential discourse semantics.  Lexis as most delicate grammar means that if grammatical networks were to be elaborated to sufficient delicacy, bundles of the most delicate features would specify individual lexical items — just as bundles of articulatory features specify individual phonemes.

[7] To be clear, collocation is a resource of lexical cohesion, and so represents a resource of the textual, not ideational metafunction.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Confusing Field With The Language That Realises It

Martin (1992: 536):
The semiotic system of field was introduced in Chapter 5 by way of contextualising the discussion of IDEATION.  Field was introduced there in terms of sets of activity sequences oriented to some global institutional purpose (or more informally, field provides the semiotic interpretation of what counts as an answer to the question //1 What do you do// as put to strangers).

Blogger Comments:

[1] As demonstrated in several previous posts, the discussion (p292, pp321-5) of activity sequences in Chapter 5 confuses the contextual category of field with the language that realises it.

[2] This is misleading.  The answer to the question What do you do? is language, not field (context).  As a dimension of context, field is not language.  Language realises field; language and field are different levels of symbolic abstraction, with language as Token and field as Value.  This stratal identity relation encodes field by reference to language; and decodes language by reference to field.

The confusion arises, most generally, from Martin mistaking semogenesis (all strata make meaning) for stratification (context/meaning/wording/sounding), and because of this, treating all strata as levels of (linguistic) meaning.  This misunderstanding then leads, in the present chapter, to misconstruing context as types of language (register and genre).  Martin's model of register and genre, as contextual strata, is thus based on sequenced theoretical misunderstandings, and is inconsistent with both stratification and the notion of text type (register/genre).

Monday, 18 July 2016

Invoking Clinical And Social Psychology

Martin (1992: 535):
The system network for affect developed in this section is presented in Figure 7.15.  As with system networks in general, the account is a purely synoptic one, glossing over completely the elaborate interplay that charges relationships between speakers.  For this a dynamic accounts needs to be constructed, drawing on a long tradition of theory and practice in clinical and social psychology.  Regrettably, no attempt has been made to develop an interpersonal dynamics here (this concern will be raised again in below).

Blogger Comments:

[1] The 'system' of 'system network' is shorthand for system–&–process.  The system is located on the cline of instantiation, from potential to instance.  The process is instantiation, the selection of features and the activation of realisation statements during logogenesis, the unfolding of text.

[2] The belief that the 'long tradition of theory and practice in clinical and social psychology' has much to offer the tenor classification of the relation between interlocutors, as either charged or neutral, during the dynamic unfolding of text, arises from Martin's misunderstanding of that relation as the behavioural surges and predisposed reactions of individuals.

[3] Regrettably, this concern is not raised again in (Narrative Genres).

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Inconsistent Unsupported Claims About The Realisation Of Misconstrued Affect

Martin (1992: 535):
Table 7.14 Tenor — aspects the realisation of affect
[lexis foregrounded]


tone width

voice quality





vowel length

consonant aspiration



minor expressive



prosodic nominal groups

diminuitives; [sic]

mental affection

manner degree




discourse semantics
no negotiation


interaction patterns
1/2 person modal responsibility

Blogger Comments:

Some of the problems with this table of unsupported can be noted briefly here.

[1] Here the distinction between 'system' and 'process' is identified with the stratal distinction of content and expression.  See the post here on the previous misuse of these terms with regard to tenor.

[2] The general distinction of loud/soft is appropriate only for the phonological category loudness.

[3] The claim is that amplification is the 'basic realisation principle' of affect, and that 'amplification achieved largely through iteration' in the case of 'content form' (p533) — by which Martin means the content plane — and though various 'parameters' in the case of 'expression form' (p534).  Here the superordinate category 'amplification' is presented as one of its hyponyms.

[4] The claim here is that lexis is foregrounded; the examples given are restricted to those of attitude: the superordinate  (attitudinal) and one hyponym (taboo) and its hyponym (swearing).

[5] The claim here is that phonæsthesia is a means of realising affect — a charged relation between interlocutors — through amplification.  Phonæsthesia is any correspondence between sound and meaning, as in onomatopœia and phonæsthemes such as the [sl] in sleaze sled sledge sleek sleet sleigh slice slick slide slime sling slink slip slither sliver etc.

[6] The claim here is that 'exclamative' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[7] The "prosodic nominal groups" are those that include multiple intrusions of attitude.  That is, the same feature has been included twice in the grammar examples.  See also the lexis examples.

[8] The claim here is that 'comment' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[9] The claim here is that 'minor expressive' (undefined) realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[10] The claim here is that grammatical intensification realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[11] The claim here is that repetition is one way of realising a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[12] The claim here is that diminutives realise a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration. A diminutive is a word which has been modified to convey a slighter degree of its root meaning, to convey the smallness of the object or quality named, or to convey a sense of intimacy or endearment.

[13] The claim here is that 'mental affection' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[14] The claim here is that Manner: degree ('how much?') realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.  See also [10] intensification.

[15] The claim here is that 'no negotiation' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[16] The claim here is that 'challenging' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.

[17] The claim here is that '1/2 person modal responsibility' realises a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.  In SFL theory, modal responsibility is the meaning of 'Subject'.  The claim then is that 1st/2nd person Subjects realise a charged relation between interlocutors through iteration.