Saturday, 13 August 2016

Misinterpreting Pike

Martin (1992: 548-9):
Halliday (1978, 1979) associates different types of structural realisation with different metafunctions. … In addition Halliday points out the correlation between these different metafunctional perspectives on realisation and Pike's work on particle, wave and field. … Halliday correlates constituency realisation with the particulate perspective, culminative realisation with wave theory and prosodic realisation with field.  The last of these correlations seems to be stretching a point since for Pike field theory is not so much concerned with non-discrete realisations as with "intersecting properties of experience" that "cluster into bundles of simultaneous characteristics which together make up the patterns" of experience (Pike 1982: 13); Pike sums up his perspectives when introducing field as follows:
We have discussed the way in which elements can be viewed by themselves as particles, or as waves smearing into some kind of continuum whose prominent parts make up nuclei.  Now we turn to sets of relationships which occur when units are linked to one another by their presence in some larger system.  A total set of relationships and of units in these relationships we call a field.  (1982: 30)
The component of systemic theory which would appear to correspond most closely to this articulation of field is system, not prosody.  For this reason the discussion will be pursued here at the level of genre under the headings of particle, prosody and wave.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Significantly, Martin's model of discourse structure is inconsistent with the SFL association of metafunction and structure type.  On the one hand:
  • the structure of the logical system, conjunction, is modelled as messages (particles) related by types of expansion, and
  • the structure of the experiential system, ideation, is modelled as lexical strings of message parts (particles),
but on the other:
  • the structure of the interpersonal system, negotiation, is modelled as constituency (particles) — exchange and move — rather than as prosody, and
  • the structure of the textual system, identification, is modelled as reference chains of participants (particles), rather than as wave.

[2] While it is true that Pike's notion of field does not correlate with the notion of prosody, it is not true that it correlates with the notion of system in SFL theory.  Martin has simply misinterpreted Pike's notion of 'system' as Halliday's notion of 'system'.  Pike is concerned with complementary perspectives on a sequence of items; that is, in SFL terms: syntagmatic, not paradigmatic relations.  Pike (1993):
The observer can choose to look at a sequence of items as if they were separate, in order to talk about phonemes, words, etc., but he also needs to be able to talk about them in terms of fusion, and he doesn't understand them ultimately unless he sees them in relation to a patterned system. Hence particle, wave, and field.
[3] Halliday (1977, 1978: 188) uses the term 'prosodic' rather than 'field' in relating types of grammatical structure to metafunctions.  Martin (1992) is merely following Halliday while implying otherwise.

The consideration of structure types with regard to genre suggests that text type is about to be confused with semantic structure.

[4] Having introduced Halliday's association of structure types with metafunctions, Martin will now consider the structure types in relation to genre, a stratal system that he does not differentiate in terms of metafunction

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