Monday, 22 August 2016

Misrepresenting Halliday

Martin (1992: 559):
The final pattern of realisation to be considered is the culminative one, which in the grammar derives from the textual metafunction.  As developed in Chapter 6, Sections 3.2-3, culminative patterns structure discourse at several levels beyond the clause.  As Halliday puts this in Thibault (1987: 612):
Textual meanings typically give you the periodic movement which is so characteristic of discourse at all levels; everything from the smallest waves to the very large ones.  In other words, their is a hierarchy of periodicity, and that comes from the textual metafunction.

Blogger Comment:

This gives the very false impression that Martin's work is consistent with Halliday's theory, and invites the misinterpretation that Halliday might endorse both Martin's "beyond the clause" claim here and even his model of discourse semantics.

To be clear, Halliday does not equate discourse with semantics, and does not model it as a stratum of symbolic abstraction.  For example, Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512) define discourse as:
… the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts.
Halliday (2008: 78) also clarifies this meaning of 'discourse' by relating it to 'text':
I do make a distinction between these two; but it is a difference in point of view, between different angles of vision on the phenomena, not in the phenomena themselves. So we can use either to define the other: “discourse” is text that is being viewed in its sociocultural context, while “text” is discourse that is being viewed as a process of language.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 601) further clarify the semogenic dimension of 'discourse/text':
It is helpful to have a term for this general phenomenon – i.e. the creation of meaning in the course of the unfolding of text. We shall call it logogenesis, with ‘logos’ in its original sense of ‘discourse’ …