Friday, 19 August 2016

Distinguishing Interpersonal Meaning From Evaluation

Martin (1992: 556):
Rather problematically for this definition of Resolution [Labov and Waletzky (1967: 39)], the realisation of Evaluation turns out to be potentially non-discrete.  There may be more than one Evaluation in a narrative … .  The non-discrete realisation of Evaluation makes locating the major focus of the Evaluation difficult, which in turn calls into question the use of a localised Evaluation to define the Resolution.  The difficulty here lies in Labov's equation of interpersonal meaning (language) with Evaluation (genre) and his failure to distinguish clearly between particulate and prosodic perspectives on generic structure.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is a contradiction in terms.  Martin claims Evaluation is potentially non-discrete — i.e. not separate — but equates this with there being more than one.  By definition, for there to be more than one, each must be a discrete realisation.

[2] The claim here is that the connected realisation of Evaluation entails that there is more than one of them, and that this makes it difficult to choose which of the "connected realisation" can be used to define the Resolution stage of a narrative.  See [1].

[3] The "difficulty" here derives:
  • firstly, from Martin's misunderstanding of the term 'non-discrete',
  • secondly, from his opposition of interpersonal meaning and Evaluation, and
  • thirdly, and more seriously, from his claim that types of language (genres) and the linguistic evaluations made in such text types are not language.
[4] Perhaps this failure can be forgiven, on the grounds that Labov was not a student of Halliday and worked in a discrete linguistic tradition.