Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Misconstruing Activity Sequence (Semantics) As Field And Schematic Structure (Semantics) As Genre

Martin (1992: 546):
Hasan's association of obligatory elements of text structure with field makes it critical to consider the relationship between activity sequence (field) and schematic structure (genre) here.

Blogger Comment:

[1] For Hasan (1985/9: 62), the obligatory elements of text structure are the elements that define the genre (text type):
So, by implication, the obligatory elements define the genre to which a text belongs;
[2] This is a non-sequitur; see [1] and [3].

[3] One problem here is that activity sequence is not field and schematic structure is not genre.

An activity sequence is a semantic construal of experience, whether a mental construal of visual experience or a verbal construal in a spoken or written text.  Field, on the other hand, is 'what is going on' and the subject matter when interlocutors are speaking to each other.  The confusion is along the stratal dimension: semantics (activity sequence) vs context (field).

Schematic structure is the structure of a text as a semantic unit.  Genre, on the other hand, is text type — that is, register viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.  The confusion is along the dimension of instantiation: potential (semantic) vs subpotential (genre).

In short, in purporting to consider the relationship between field and genre, Martin is actually considering the relation between two ways of construing semantic units.  This will be borne out in the following blog posts.

This, like so many other confusions identified here, demonstrates the serious pitfalls of misunderstanding 'all strata make meaning' (semogenesis) as all strata are levels of linguistic meaning.

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