Thursday, 25 August 2016

Misconstruing Language Sub-Potentials (Genres) As Context Potential (Culture)

Martin (1992: 560):
Linguists' concern with constituency at the level of genre has meant that questions of field, in Pike's sense of the term, have not been actively pursued.  Hasan's notion of generic structure potential does generalise across a range of text structures, determining their generic identity:
The property of structure is what allows us to distinguish between complete and incomplete texts on the one hand, and between different generic forms on the other.  With some oversimplification, the assumptions here can be stated as follows: associated with each genre of text — i.e. type of discourse — is a generalised structural formula, which permits an array of actual structures.  Each complete text must be a realisation of a structure from such an array.  The generic membership of the text is determined by reference to the structural formula to which the actual structure can be shown to belong.  (Hasan 1977: 229)
But Hasan has not attempted to develop these structure potentials in the direction of system/structure theory; and as noted above, the question of systemic relations among structure potentials does not really arise.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This invites the misinterpretation that such linguists also:
  • misconstrue genre (language sub-potential) as a stratum of context (cultural potential), and
  • misconstrue semantics (text structure) as genre (text type).

[2] To be clear, this is field, in Martin's misconstrual of Pike's sense of the term (as system rather than structure type).

[3] To be clear, as the quote makes plain, Hasan's generic structure potentials provide a generalised formula for a range of semantic structures of a given text type (genre).

[4] Hasan did not make systems of generic structural potentials because to do so would have been inconsistent with the rest of the architecture of SFL theory, since it would have confused the system pole of the cline of instantiation (semantic stratum potential) with the middle of the cline (genre/text type/register).