Monday, 28 March 2016

The Argument That "Verbal Processes Are Fundamentally Metaphorical In Nature"

Martin (1992: 483):
This text ([6:50]) is also organised by means of meta-proposals and meta-propositions which refer explicitly to the ongoing negotiation (functioning like the look proposals in [6:48] above). … These meta-proposals and meta-propositions could be interpreted as a type of textual metaphor (the dynamic equivalent of Francis's 1985 A-nouns).  This would however be to argue that verbal processes are fundamentally metaphorical in nature, rather than an ongoing classification of verbal behaviour as part of the experiential world.  When used to orchestrate rather than report on dialogue, this interpretation does not seem too far-fetched.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Meta-proposals and meta-propositions, as proposals and propositions, are language in its interpersonal guise, not its textual guise.  As such, they enact the interpersonal exchange.  They do not organise the text; instead, the textual metafunction organises them.

[2] There are two principal reasons why meta-proposals and meta-propositions can not be treated as a type of textual metaphor:
  1. Meta-proposals and meta-propositions are interpersonal meanings, not textual meanings;
  2. There is no such thing as textual metaphor (see previous arguments here and here).
[3] To interpret meta-proposals and meta-propositions as textual metaphor is not to argue that verbal processes are fundamentally metaphorical in nature.  This is because to interpret some interpersonal meanings as textual metaphor is not to argue that some experiential meanings are metaphorical.

[4] This seriously misunderstands grammatical metaphor.  Grammatical metaphor is the incongruent realisation of meaning (semantics) in wording (lexicogrammar).  Verbal processes — like anything else — can only be metaphorical by contrast with a congruent realisation.

[5] The alternatives presented here are that verbal processes are either:
  • metaphorical, or
  • construals of experience.
Grammatical metaphors involving verbal processes are ideational metaphors. Ideational metaphors are reconstruals of experience. Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 241):
They constitute a resource for reconstruing experience along certain lines, redeploying the same categories that have evolved in the congruent mode of construing experience.
[6] Even if verbal processes were used to orchestrate text, to interpret them as "fundamentally metaphorical" — especially as opposed to construals of experience — would demonstrate a serious misunderstanding of SFL theory.