Monday, 8 February 2016

Confusing Text Type With Text Structure And Misrepresenting Hasan's Work On Cohesive Harmony

Martin (1992: 418):
Cohesive harmony is basically designed to measure coherence in text, although it needs to be kept in mind that the measure is only a partial one.  As noted in 6.1, no measure of textual unity is complete without taking into account consistency of register (field, tenor, mode) and genre (text structure); and as Hasan (1985: 94) points out the technique needs to be refined to bring logical and interpersonal meaning into the picture (it does not in other words deal with organic relationsCONJUNCTION and NEGOTIATIONnor with the interaction of componential cohesion and MOOD or clause complex functions).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This continues the confusion of register with context (field, tenor and mode). A register is a functional variety of language, whereas context, on the other hand, is the culture modelled as a connotative semiotic system, with language as its expression plane.

[2] This confuses text type with text structure.  A genre is a kind of text, based on one or more criteria.  Genres are (a subset of) registers, viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.  Text structure, on the other hand, is the concern of the semantic stratum.  It refers to the structure of the largest semantic unit.  The confusion is thus, once again, between stratification and instantiation.

[3] There are three interwoven misrepresentations here.  Firstly, broadening the scope of cohesive harmony to include logical and interpersonal meaning does not mean the inclusion of organic relations.  Organic relations are part of Hasan's model of non-structural cohesion, a resource of the textual metafunction.

Secondly, organic relations, as cohesive relations, also contribute to cohesive harmony.  As Hasan (1985: 85) clearly explains, she does not discuss them for reasons of space and time:
To answer this question, I shall restrict myself to such notions as have been presented above in some detail.  I shall ignore instantial lexical cohesion, all organic relations, and all forms of structural cohesion.  This is not because they are less important, but because time and space are limited.
Thirdly, Martin's discourse systems of conjunction and negotiation are not theoretically consistent with Hasan's organic relations. Hasan's organic relations are types of grammatical and lexical cohesive devices (1985: 82) — in contrast to componential relations — and as such, are non-structural resources of the textual metafunction.  In contrast, the discourse system of conjunction is presented as a system of the logical metafunction, not the textual — though it confuses textual (non-structural) and logical (structural) deployments of expansion; and the discourse system of negotiation is presented as a system of the interpersonal metafunction, not the textual.