Thursday, 16 June 2016

Blurring The Distinction Between Tenor (Context) And Interpersonal Meaning (Semantics)

Martin (1992: 523):
The model of tenor to be presented here is that developed by Poynton (1984, 1985, 1990).  As with interpersonal meaning in general, tenor is concerned with the semiotics of relationships.  It mediates these relationships along three dimensions, which will be referred to here as status (Poynton's power), contact and affect.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This blurs the important stratificational distinction between the context of culture (tenor) and the semantics of language (interpersonal meaning).  As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 320) tenor is concerned with: 
the relationship between the interactants, between speaker and listener, in terms of social rôles in general and those created through language in particular (‘who are taking part?).
Interpersonal meaning, on the other hand, is concerned with the linguistic resources that interactants use to enact social and intersubjective relationships.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 11):
The interaction base provides the resources for speaker and listener to enact a social and intersubjective relationship, through the assignment of discursive rôles, the expression of evaluations and attitudes.

[2] This is misleading.  Tenor does not mediate the "semiotics of relationships".  The system of tenor models the interpersonal dimension of cultural potential that is realised in language.