Monday, 14 March 2016

Confusing Writing Pedagogy With Linguistic Theory

Martin (1992: 456):
Macro-Theme, hyper-Themes and clause Themes project forward, scaffolding the text with respect to its rhetorical purpose (i.e. its genre); macro-New, hyper-News and clause News on the other hand look back, gathering up the meanings which have accumulated to elaborate a text's field.  The result is a textured sandwich in which texts project both forward and back as they unfold.  Texture of this kind, which is a tendency in writing (by no means a categorical rule) is outlined schematically in Fig. 6.12.
Fig. 6.12. Sandwich texture in abstract written discourse

Blogger Comments:

[1] The field here is writing pedagogy, not linguistic theory:
  • macro-Theme is Martin's rebranding of introductory paragraph; 
  • hyper-Theme is Martin's use of Daneš's (1974) term to rebrand topic sentence;
  • macro-New is Martin's term for a text summary (and so 'New' is a misnomer);
  • hyper-New is Martin's term for a paragraph summary (and so 'New' is again a misnomer).

[2] This confuses context (which is more abstract than language) with register (which is a functional variety of language).  The rôle of language in context is its rhetorical mode.  A genre, on the other hand, as a text type, is register viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.

[3] 'New' is a functional element of the information unit, not the clause. The domain of an information unit may be shorter or longer than a single clause.

[4] The meanings that 'elaborate' the field of a context of situation are all the meanings of a text, not just those that are presented as New to the addressee or re-presented in summaries.

[5] The relation between meaning (semantics) and field (context) is realisation, which is both an elaborating and an identifying relation.  It is the identifying component of the relation that marks the two as different levels of symbolic abstraction.  The use of the term 'elaboration' betrays the fact that Martin does not understand strata as different levels of symbolic abstraction, as has been demonstrated in numerous previous posts (here).