Monday, 6 June 2016

Misconstruing Lower And Higher Orders Of Experience As Higher & Lower Levels Of Symbolic Abstraction

Martin (1992: 521):
Participation may allow room for the construction of an additional field if the activity sequence in which the speakers/listeners are involved is not too engaging (e.g. chatting while washing up).  The notion of first (washing up) and second (what the chat is about) order field has been used for texts of this kind (Halliday 1978: 144).*
* Endnote #19 (p589):
It has also been used for distinguishing the field of a review (first order) from the field of the text being reviewed (second order), which is a different distinction involving what can be conceived of metaphorically as projection.  English Text's distinction between genre and field makes it unnecessary to use the concepts of first and second order field to distinguish a discussion (genre) about a football game from the game itself (field: activity sequence).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands orders of experience.  Both instances involve the distinction between first and second order experience, and the theoretical relation between orders of experience is projection — it is not metaphorical.

[2] This is inconsistent with the notion of first and second order field.  In Martin's model, genre and field are related stratally, so the relation between them is realisationelaboration + identity — whereas the relation between orders of experience is projection.  Moreover, Martin misconstrues the lower order of experience (first order field) as his higher level of semiotic abstraction (genre).

These inconsistencies are further multiplied by the inconsistencies entailed by Martin misconstruing field as register, instead of context, and register and genre as context, instead of language.

[3] The absurdity here is made patently obvious by tabulating the confusions as follows:

SFL Theory
Martin (1992)
(ideational semiotic context)
higher order
lower stratum
field (register)
a game of football
projected by
lower order
higher stratum
a discussion of that game of football

On Martin's model, a game of football — people running around kicking a ball — is 'register', and the game realises a discussion of itself.

[4] This confuses the material order (what people do) with the semiotic order (what people say).

Misconstruing Ancillary As Constitutive

Martin (1992: 521):
Constructions can be broken down into fiction and generalisation.  Fictional texts are semiotically closely related to texts constructing unshared experience, but generally make fewer assumptions about what can be assumed.  Generalising texts neutralise TENSE, DEIXIS and PERSON in order to construct social processes as potentials underlying and cutting across particular manifestations.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, the claim here, in Martin's terms, is that all "field-structured" texts that constitute "social processes" — and which do not construct past events — are either fiction or generalisation.  Generalising texts were said (pp518-9) to be those where 'the language generalises about what goes on', and the examples that were provided were:
  • recipes
  • manual You do. (proposal)
  • implication sequence It does. (proposition)
  • procedure It does. (activity focus)
  • report They're attractive. (thing focus)
However, in terms of Hasan's (1985/9: 58) mode opposition of constitutive vs ancillary — as well as the meanings of the terms — the language rôle of recipes, manuals and procedures is ancillary, not constitutive.

[2] The claim here is that fictional constructions "generally make fewer assumptions about what can be assumed" than vicarious reconstructions.  Reconstructions were exemplified (p519) by:
  • projected instruction S/he told me to do. (proposal)
  • recount I/we did. (proposition/activity focus)
  • description It was pretty. (thing focus)
The claim, then, is that romantic novels, for example, "generally make fewer assumptions about what can be assumed" than, for example, a speaker's recount of an overseas trip to an addressee who has never travelled overseas.

[3] The claim here is that texts such as recipes, manuals, procedures and reports "neutralise TENSE, DEIXIS and PERSON in order to construct social processes as potentials underlying and cutting across particular manifestations".  A grammatical analysis of this clause complex (see here) demonstrates that it is intended to merely bamboozle the reader.  This can be further demonstrated by applying this clause complex to recipes for chicken parmesan with basil; now the claim becomes:
recipes for chicken parmesan with basil neutralise TENSEDEIXIS and PERSON in order to construct social processes as potentials underlying and cutting across particular manifestations.
That is, it is claimed that the purpose of neutralising these grammatical features in recipes (for chicken parmesan with basil) is to reconstruct the act of cooking (chicken parmesan with basil) as cooking potential, and that the potential (for cooking chicken parmesan with basil) "underlies" and "cuts across" particular manifestations of cooking (chicken parmesan with basil).