Monday, 11 July 2016

Misconstruing Relations Between Speakers As Individual Predisposition

Martin (1992: 533):
Poynton classifies affect as positive or negative and as permanent or transient.  The latter distinction takes into account the fact interlocutors have long-term predispositions as more volatile short-term ones.  This distinction will be developed here by suggesting that "transient" affect can be interpreted as a surge of "permanent" affect, with a long term low-key prosodic realisation bursting into an explicit and intense behavioural one: dislike erupting into telling someone off, sadness into tears, happiness into laughter and so on.  In the grammar of TRANSITIVITY this correlates with the opposition between mental processes of reaction and behavioural processes.  Accordingly, Poynton's system will be reworked with the features [surge] and [predisposition] here.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misinterprets affect — a relation between interlocutors — as a predisposition of individuals.  It will be seen that this misunderstanding completely undermines the validity of Martin's reworking of Poynton's model of this dimension of tenor.

[2] Here Martin is using the metalanguage of mental and behavioural processes to model individual speakers, distinguishing their "permanent" mental predispositions from their "transient" behavioural surges.  As such, it is not a model of the charged vs neutral affect relation between interlocutors, as a system of the culture.

[3] Accordingly, Martin's misunderstanding of affect makes his reworking of Poynton's system invalid.