Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Not Classifying Text Types From Above

Martin (1992: 568-9):
Obviously much more work on these and related story genres is required before a workable approximation to their generic inter-relationships can be constructed.  Three provisional systems are presented in Fig. 7.27 by way of encouraging this articulation.  The first opposition distinguishes recount genres, which deal unproblematically with activity sequences, from other story genres which depend on counterexpectancy.  Then narratives, which make use of counterexpectancy to frustrate the inclinations of key protagonists are separated from exemplums and anecdotes where what goes wrong is not predicted' in this way.  The third system opposes anecdotes, which focus on reaction, to exemplums, which deal in judgements.

Blogger Comment:

To be clear, from an SFL perspective, this is classifying text types (genres) "from roundabout", in terms of their semantics, instead of "from above", in terms of the the cultural (contextual) functions they serve.  As a functional theory, SFL gives priority to the view "from above".

From Martin's perspective, where genre and register are misconceived, not as language, but as strata of context, this is classifying genres "from below" — either from the stratum immediately below (register: activity sequences), or from the second stratum below (discourse semantics: counter-expectancy).

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Misconstruing Semantics (Activity Sequence) As Context (Field)

Martin (1992: 564, 565, 566, 568):
These "stories" are alike in that they are built up around a set of narrative clauses (an activity sequence in terms of the field theory developed here); …
For Plum, as in Martin and Rothery's work, the recount is a relatively iconic rendering of an activity sequence (the Record stage); … Expectancies about how an activity sequence will unfold are countered, with ensuing events departing from the norm in some significant way. …
Texts 7.1-4 have been constructed below to illustrate these genres as interpersonal manipulations of the same activity sequence
The ways in which interpersonal meaning inflects activity sequences to construct these four story genres is summarised in Table 7.20.

Table 7.20 Interpersonal meaning across story genres




prosodic affect

varied affect
negative affect
negative to positive affect

Blogger Comment:

This continues the misconstrual of semantics (activity sequence) as context (field).  As can be seen from these excerpts, an activity sequence here refers to events in a narrative.  They are the linguistic construals of experience of an author.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Confusing Strata And Misidentifying Metafunctions

Martin (1992: 563):
Martin (1985/1989) and Martin & Peters (1985) further divided expository writing into analytical and hortatory varieties, depending on whether the text outlined an argument (macro-proposition) or tried to persuade listener/readers to undertake a particular course of action (macro-modulated proposition), a distinction related to Longacre's +/– prescriptive opposition.  The inter-relationships proposed for these factual genres are formulated systemically in Fig. 7.26 (for further delicacy see Peters 1985).  Significantly, the network is comprised of ideational, interpersonal and textual features and thus cuts across register variables to bring out the oppositions between the genres:

ideational variables
+/– activity structure, document/explain

interpersonal variables
resolve/debate, analytical, hortatory

textual variables
+/– generalised

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, the rôle of language in context, such as analytical vs hortatory exposition, is a dimension of mode, the system of the textual metafunction at the level of context.  Text types (language) are identified from above, by the situation types (context) they realise.  Here, on the other hand, textual mode is being identified from below, in terms of the interpersonal semantics (speech function).

[2] This misrepresents the distinction between these two types of exposition, both of which involve the presentation of arguments. The text structure (semantics) that realises a hortatory exposition (context: mode) is typically:
  1. Thesis
  2. Arguments
  3. Recommendation
whereas the text structure (semantics) that realises an analytical exposition (context: mode) is typically:
  1. Thesis
  2. Arguments
  3. Reiteration
The function of a hortatory exposition is to explain to the reader that something should or should not happen or be done — not to command the reader — whereas the function of an analytical exposition is a to persuade the reader that an idea is important.

[3] This misrepresents a theoretical defect — a network that mixes metafunctional perspectives — as a virtue.  However, the network also confuses features from different strata and misidentifies their metafunctions, as will be demonstrated below.

[4] In terms of SFL theory, of the "ideational register variables" classifying genres ("from below"), ± activity structure is ideational, but semantic, whereas document/explain is textual context (mode).

[5] In terms of SFL theory, of the "interpersonal register variables" classifying genres ("from below"), resolve/debate is interpersonal, but semantic, whereas analytical/hortatory is textual context (mode).

[6] In terms of SFL theory, the "textual register variables" classifying genres ("from below"), ± generalised is ideational semantics (construing experience).

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Misconstruing Semantics As Context And Misidentifying Metafunctions

Martin (1992: 562-3):
Martin 1985/1989, working along lines similar to Longacre's, developed a preliminary classification of "factual" genres drawing on field and mode.  The basic field opposition was between texts which were focussing on activity sequences (e.g. narratives, recipes, manuals) and texts which were not (e.g. descriptions, expositions); the basic mode opposition was between texts which generalised across experience and those which referred to a specific manifestation of a culture.  Generalised texts were further divided into those which function to document information and those which explain. … In later work Martin and Rothery divided explaining texts into those which considered more than one point of view, Discussions and Explorations, and those which presented only one position, Exposition and Explanation.  This genre matrix is outlined in Table 7.19.
Table 7.19 Cross-classification of factual genres

– generalised


– activity structured

+ activity structured

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is inconsistent with Martin's (p564) opposition of factual and narrative genres.

[2] This confuses ideational semantics (activity sequences) with ideational context (field).  The confusion is thus along the dimension of stratification.

[3] This confuses ideational semantics (construing experience) with textual context (mode).  The confusion is thus simultaneously metafunctional and stratificational.

[4] This confuses interpersonal semantics (heteroglossia vs monoglossia) with textual context (mode).  The confusion is thus simultaneously metafunctional and stratificational.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Martin's Reason Why Field, Tenor & Mode Are Insufficient To Classify Genres

Martin (1992: 562):
English Text's suggestion is that in pursuing work of this kind [classifying genres], a very different system of valeur will be established than that developed when looking at field, mode or tenor variables alone (even though very similar oppositions might be used on the levels of register and genre).  The reason for this is that no culture combines field, mode and tenor variables freely — all are selective.  Thus the system of social processes constituting a culture at the level of genre will always differ from the systems of field, mode and tenor options it makes available in one or other contexts of situation.

Blogger Comments:

[1] On Martin's model, register and genre, as strata, are different levels of symbolic abstraction.  On this model, the more abstract features of genre are realised by less abstract register features of field, tenor and mode.  In SFL theory, on the other hand, register and genre are the same phenomenon — a point of variation midway along the cline of instantiation — viewed from opposite poles of the cline.

[2] Translating into SFL theory, the argument here is as follows:
  • a. Field, tenor and mode features are insufficient to classify text types
  • b. not all combinations of field, tenor and mode features occur in a culture
and because of this
  • c. the system of text types will always differ from situational instances of field, tenor and mode features.
This can be examined in stages, first considering the argument from (a) to (b), and then the argument from (b) to (c).

First, (b) does not follow logically from (a).  By definition, only the contextual configurations that do occur specify cultural contexts that are realised by text types.  (In a system network, the available feature combinations are constrained by the (if…then) wiring of the network.)

Second, (c) does not follow logically from (b).  This is because the notion of available contextual configurations is logically independent of the confused notion of differences between genre systems and contextual instances.

Moreover, the confusions in (c) are themselves confused.  On the one hand:
  • the notion of a 'genre system' confuses two distinct points on the cline of instantiation, namely: a midway point sub-potential (genre/text type), and the pole of potential (system);
and on the other:
  • the difference between system and instance, instantiation,
is confused with
  • the difference between genre (language) and field, tenor and mode (context), stratification.

[3] It is curious that Martin uses the SFL notion 'contexts of situation' here, given that his model has replaced this with register.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Misrepresenting Longacre

Martin (1992: 561-2):
It is important to compare Longacre's features [for cross-classifying text types] with those used by Hasan when classifying text structures with respect to contextual configurations. … Longacre's chronological dimension can be related to Hasan's field features, his prescription to her tenor and his dialogue/monologue opposition to her mode.  In effect Longacre has selected features from different aspects of Hasan's contextual construct (i.e. field, mode and tenor variables) and integrated them into a single matrix in order to classify genres.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Longacre's (1976) ± chronological framework classifies text types according ideational semantics whereas Hasan (1977, 1985/9) specifies the ideational dimensions of the culture (field) that identify a text type.  The difference between them is thus stratal. (semantics vs context).

[2] Longacre's ± prescription is concerned with the rôle played by language.  In SFL theory, this is mode, not tenor.  The difference between them is thus metafunctional (textual vs interpersonal).

[3] As Martin reports it, Longacre's monologic vs dialogic opposition distinguishes narrative from drama, respectively.  That is, it distinguishes text types according to whether the projection of the author contain a single voice (a narrator), or many voices (dramatis personæ).  On the other hand, Hasan's monologic vs dialogic opposition is concerned with the number of authors (speakers) of the text.  The difference between them is thus in terms of orders of experience (second-order vs first-order).

[4] As the three previous points clearly demonstrate, this is not true.  Longacre (1976) did not select features of Hasan's (1977, 1985/9) context and integrate them into a single matrix to classify genres.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Misconstruing Language Sub-Potentials (Genres) As Context Potential (Culture)

Martin (1992: 560):
Linguists' concern with constituency at the level of genre has meant that questions of field, in Pike's sense of the term, have not been actively pursued.  Hasan's notion of generic structure potential does generalise across a range of text structures, determining their generic identity:
The property of structure is what allows us to distinguish between complete and incomplete texts on the one hand, and between different generic forms on the other.  With some oversimplification, the assumptions here can be stated as follows: associated with each genre of text — i.e. type of discourse — is a generalised structural formula, which permits an array of actual structures.  Each complete text must be a realisation of a structure from such an array.  The generic membership of the text is determined by reference to the structural formula to which the actual structure can be shown to belong.  (Hasan 1977: 229)
But Hasan has not attempted to develop these structure potentials in the direction of system/structure theory; and as noted above, the question of systemic relations among structure potentials does not really arise.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This invites the misinterpretation that such linguists also:
  • misconstrue genre (language sub-potential) as a stratum of context (cultural potential), and
  • misconstrue semantics (text structure) as genre (text type).

[2] To be clear, this is field, in Martin's misconstrual of Pike's sense of the term (as system rather than structure type).

[3] To be clear, as the quote makes plain, Hasan's generic structure potentials provide a generalised formula for a range of semantic structures of a given text type (genre).

[4] Hasan did not make systems of generic structural potentials because to do so would have been inconsistent with the rest of the architecture of SFL theory, since it would have confused the system pole of the cline of instantiation (semantic stratum potential) with the middle of the cline (genre/text type/register).

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Misunderstanding Stratal Relations And Confusing Text Type (Genre) With System (Potential)

Martin (1992: 560):
Once posited as potentially divergent patterns of realisation, particulate, prosodic and periodic aspects of generic structure are not difficult to find.  More problematic is the question of how to model and integrate them once observed.  In particular this raises questions about the role played by genre in mapping field, tenor and mode choices onto each other in ways which capture teleological aspects of generic structure.  Current formulations of genre as system do not resolve these issues, but are nevertheless pursued below.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is not in the least problematic.  The modes of realisation are the models, and the text, as semantic unit, provides the domain of application, just as the clause does in the lexicogrammar.

[2] This is a non-sequitur.  The modelling and integration of structure types is logically distinct from what follows; see [3].

[3] Translating into SFL theory, this becomes:
  • the rôle played by text type
  • in configuring contextual features
  • in ways that capture purpose-directed aspects
  • of the semantic structure of different text types.
In the first instance, this misunderstands the relation between contextual configurations and text type (genre).  Different text types realise different configurations of field, tenor and mode.

In the second instance, field, tenor and mode features do not "map onto each other"; selections from the three systems specify a given context (situation or situation type).

In the third instance, the notion of teleology is as redundant for text structure as it is for clause structure.  This confuses purpose with function.  In functional linguistics, structures have functions.

[4] The formulation of genre as system confuses subpotential (text type) with potential (system).  That is, it confuses a point of variation midway along the cline of instantiation with the system pole of that cline.  As such, such a formulation cannot resolve these non-issues — merely add to the confusion and theoretical inconsistency.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A Transparently False Claim

Martin (1992: 559):
Not in passing that wave patterns are very commonly reflected in the labelling given to beginning and end stages across genres, reflecting the peaks and troughs of prominence that open and close a text; a number of these are reviewed in Table 7.17.

Table 7.17 Culminative prominence and generic structure

(initial prominence)
(final prominence)
Mitchell (1957)
Auctioneer’s Opening
Hasan (1977)
Summary ^ Finis
Hasan (1985)
Sale Initiation
Purchase Closure
Hasan (1984)
Initiating Event
Ventola (1979)
Leave-taking ^ Goodbye

Blogger Comment:

As the table demonstrates, this claim is wholly bogus.  Not one of the labels "reflects" the notion of a wave peak or trough.