Thursday, 20 June 2019

Pageviews by Countries

EntryPageviews
United States
18002
Australia
7016
Russia
4716
France
3459
United Kingdom
2971
Germany
2269
China
1867
United Arab Emirates
1638
Ukraine
971
Unknown Region
842

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Jim Martin Misrepresenting Cohesion


James Martin wrote to sysfling on 19 Jun 2019, 14:52:
During the 70s Halliday is something of an intellectual, institutional and political refugee, not concentrating on grammar, but turning his attention to cohesion



Blogger Comments:

To be clear, in SFL theory, cohesion is a (non-structural) resource of the textual metafunction on the lexicogrammatical stratum.

The reason why it serves Martin to misrepresent cohesion as a resource distinct from the grammar, as he has since Martin (1992: 1), is that his model of discourse semantics takes the model of cohesion from Halliday & Hasan (1976), and removes it from the grammar by rebranding it as his own model of discourse semantics:
  1. Martin's IDENTIFICATION is his rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's REFERENCE (confused with ELLIPSIS–&–SUBSTITUTION);
  2. Martin's CONJUNCTION/CONNEXION is his rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's CONJUNCTION;
  3. Martin's IDEATION is his rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's LEXICAL COHESION.
Moreover, Martin's misunderstandings of his source material serve to differentiate his model from Halliday & Hasan's, creating the false impression of genuine theoretical originality.  Evidence here.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

David Rose Using Theme To Promote Discourse Semantics

Can I make explicit that the job is either grammatical description or discourse semantic description ? 
One is concerned with classifying clause patterns and the other with discourse patterns. 
Discourse semantic description explains functions of variations in grammar patterns such as types of Theme.
Typological comparisons might start with discourse semantic functions and ask how they are realised in grammar.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, this refers to Margaret Berry's previous post (here) in which she redefines a clause function, Theme, in terms of two logogenetic patterns of instantiation: the selection of both Theme and Subject in the unfolding of text.

Here Rose misconstrues the lexicogrammatical distinction between this clause function and logogenetic patterns of its instantiation as a stratal distinction between lexicogrammar and discourse semantics.  In doing so, Rose rebrands Margaret Berry's approach to grammar as Martin's discourse semantics.

[2] This is a bare assertion, unsupported by argument. To be clear, the "function" of logogenetic patterns of instantiation, such as varying the selection of Theme, is to develop the text.

Moreover, as demonstrated in detail here, Martin's discourse semantic notions of 'macroTheme' and 'hyperTheme' are the notions of 'introductory paragraph' and 'topic sentence', respectively, taken from writing pedagogy and rebranded as Martin's linguistic theory.  Because they are concepts designed to help people write, rather than concepts designed to describe what people actually say, sign or write, they cannot shed theoretical light on actual Theme selection.

[3] Or perhaps, since it is the lexicogrammar that construes the semantics, and not the other way around, a Systemic Functional approach might be to ask what paradigmatic contrasts in meaning are being construed by paradigmatic contrasts in the wording.

Christian Matthiessen On Martin's Context As Connotative Semiotic

…In a way, the textual metafunction is the most fragile of the metafunctions — the one most likely to be influenced by the observer, so it is absolutely essential to base observations and analyses on naturally occurring examples in context — in their textual environment [co-text] and in their context in the sense of connotative semiotic (Martin, 1992). …



Blogger Comments:

To be clear, Martin's (1992) 'connotative semiotic' is his stratification of context as genre and register.  As demonstrated in great detail here (context), here (genre) and here (register), Martin's model is not only inconsistent with the architecture of SFL theory, but also inconsistent with the meanings of the terms 'context', 'genre' and 'register'.

For example, Martin models varieties of language, register and genre (text type), not as sub-potentials or instance types of language, but as semiotic systems other than language: the context that is realised by language.  Nevertheless, inconsistent with this, Martin claims that instances of context are text, that is: language rather than context.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  For more details, see the clarifying critiques here.

For Ruqaiya Hasan's critique of Martin's model of context, see The Conception Of Context In Text in
Fries, Peter H. and Gregory, Michael (1995) DISCOURSE IN SOCIETY: SYSTEMIC FUNCTIONAL PERSPECTIVES: Meaning and Choice in Language: Studies for Michael Halliday Norwood: Ablex (pp183-283).
The place of register and text type (genre) in the architecture of SFL theory is identified by Halliday's instantiation/stratification matrix:


An elaboration of this matrix can be found in Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 384):

Tom Bartlett On Given And Theme

From the posts so far, what we are talking about is textuality rather than Theme per se, and this seems to be a better starting point. 
At least three different functional structures have been introduced: initial/early position in the clause; formal marking of topicality or aboutness; and given-ness. 
With regard to the last, Mick rightly points out that Given and Theme do not always correspond by SFL definitions, but it is worth bearing in mind that the Prague definition of tema was something close to the most given element (i.e. the element having the least communicative dynamism), and this was the basis of the original formulation of thematic progression, rather than Halliday's Theme, which produces very different (and potentially complementary rather than conflicting) results. …

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, none of these three is a (multivariate) "functional structure".  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 451): 
A multivariate structure is a configuration of different functional relationships, like  Theme + Rheme, Mood + Residue + Moodtag, or Actor + Process + Recipient + Goal.  Note that, although it is the functions that are labelled, the structure actually consists of the relationships among them.
With regard to Bartlett's trio:
  • 'initial/early position in the clause' is how Theme is realised on the syntagmatic axis;
  • 'formal marking of topicality or aboutness' refers to the realisation of topical Theme at a lower rank; and
  • 'givenness' refers to the feature 'given' in the system of INFORMATION.

[2] More importantly, it is worth bearing in mind that, in SFL theory, Given and Theme are functionally distinct and are selected independently. The theoretical advantage of making the distinction is demonstrated by the systematic alternations of identifying clauses:

(a) decoding Trump
(which is Trump?)

operative voice:
Trump
is
the stable genius
Medium Identified Token
Process
Range Identifier Value
Theme
Rheme
Given
New

receptive voice:
the stable genius
is
Trump
Range Identifier Value
Process
Medium Identified Token
Theme
Rheme
New
Given


(b) encoding the stable genius
(which is the stable genius?)

operative voice:
Trump
is
the stable genius
Agent Identifier Token
Process
Medium Identified Value
Theme
Rheme
New
Given

receptive voice:
the stable genius
is
Trump
Medium Identified Value
Process
Agent Identifier Token
Theme
Rheme
Given
New

Monday, 17 June 2019

Margaret Berry On Theme

I agree with Mick and Nick that what is the best approach to Theme and Rheme depends on what you want to do with it. Like them I’m particularly interested in patterns across texts. 
It could be said that in English the main function of Theme is to show whether the perspective of the text changes or whether it remains the same, in particular whether the main topic entity changes or stays the same and whether the setting changes or stays the same. 
In Mick’s example, the ‘He’s show that the writer is staying with the same main topic entity. But at intervals the temporal setting changes, as shown by the initial Adjuncts. As Mick has shown, for me both the continuity of main topic entity and the changes of setting are relevant to the ongoing perspective of the text. So I want the Subjects to count as Themes as well as the Adjuncts. (Which Halliday wouldn’t allow when a Subject is preceded by an Adjunct.)

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, if a theoretical term like 'Theme' is not used in the original formulation, the use of the term is no longer valid, since the theoretical valeur of the term has changed. Moreover, this can have unintended consequences for systemic relationships, the basis of explanation in SFL.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is that of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features. Explaining something consists not in stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness (agnation…).
[2] To be clear, thematic patterns across texts can be examined using the original formulation of Theme.  That is, this does not constitute an argument in support of varying the theoretical valeur of 'Theme'.

[3] To be clear, this characterisation of Theme confuses Theme, a functional element of the clause, with the logogenetic pattern known as the method of development.  As Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 89, 126) explain:
The Theme is the element that serves as the point of departure of the message; it is that which locates and orients the clause within its context. The speaker chooses the Theme as his or her point of departure to guide the addressee in developing an interpretation of the message; by making part of the message prominent as Theme, the speaker enables the addressee to process the message. The remainder of the message, the part in which the Theme is developed, is called in Prague school terminology the Rheme. …
The choice of clause Themes plays a fundamental part in the way discourse is organised; it is this, in fact, that constitutes what has been called the ‘method of development’ of the text…
[4] To be clear, this argues for a reformulation of a clause function (Theme), not on the basis of its function in the clause, but on the basis of logogenetic patterns, and in doing so, confuses two distinct logogenetic patterns: choice of Theme and choice of Subject.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Mick O'Donnell On Theme

Michael O'Donnell wrote to sysfling on 16 Jun 2019 at 18:24:
In Halliday's approach (for English), Theme stops with the first topical (experiential) element, which in this case is the circumstance of time, "in 1925". "Halliday" is thus Rheme. 
I myself am a proponent of the Berry approach (which I believe is similar to the Fawcett approach), whereby one has Subject-theme, and elements in front of that are also "Additional Theme", e.g. 
Additional-Theme
Subject
Theme
Rheme
In May 1476,
he
He took part in an armed convoy sent by Genoa to carry a valuable cargo to northern Europe.

He
docked in Bristol, Galway, in Ireland and was possibly in Iceland in 1477.
In 1479
Columbus
reached his brother Bartolomeo in Lisbon, keeping on trading for the Centurione family.

He
married Filipa Moniz Perestrello, daughter of the Porto Santo governor, the Portuguese nobleman of Genoese origin Bartolomeu Perestrello.
In 1479 or 1480,
his son Diego
was born.
This approach better captures the continuity or discontinuity of the Subject selections, and allows for the presence of marked elements in front of the Subject.


Blogger Comments:

Applying this model yields:

Additional-Theme
Rheme
Subject Theme
blessed
are
the meek
 on your left
is
the main bedroom
a little further on
is
the Rijksmuseum

Additional-Theme
Additional-Theme

Rheme
Subject Theme
where
precisely
in that case
are
they?


[1] This is the opposite of what is true. Unsurprisingly, the "continuity or discontinuity" of the Subject selections is shown by the selection of Subjects.  The question of the "continuity or discontinuity" of Subject selections as Theme is nullified by this approach, since all Subjects are claimed to be Themes.

[2] To be clear, this approach adds nothing with regard to "the presence of marked elements in front of the Subject", since 'Additional Theme' is just a rebranding of 'marked Theme', without acknowledging its markedness.  Moreover, it is the distinction between Theme and Subject that provides the criterion for the distinction between marked and unmarked Theme in declarative clauses.


To be clear, this approach merely confuses the interpersonal selection of Subject, the carrier of modal responsibility in a clause as exchange, with the textual selection of Theme, the point of departure for a clause as message.  Subject is reprised in a Mood Tag; Theme is realised by everything up to and including the first experiential element.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Mick O'Donnell On Phrasal Complexity

Phrasal complexity is more than just examining nominal group structure. It quantifies nominal group complexity in some way (e.g., the depth of structure (either in terms of constituency or dependency relations), the total number of connections, etc. 
For me, the hardest part is coming up with a complexity metric that actually makes sense. This is actually an area where psycho linguistics has lots to say, in terms of the readability of a given nominal structure, using eye tracking, etc. 
I haven't seen any work within SFL on this, mostly by post-chomskyans and cognitive linguists.


Blogger Comments:

In terms of SFL theory, this relates to the type of complexity that is typical of written mode: lexical density, and, as Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 726-9) point out, the nominal group is the primary resource for increasing lexical density.  

Lexical density is quantified at clause rank — rather than group rank — by dividing the number of lexical items by the number of ranking clauses.

Moreover, in terms of semantic complexity, lexical density involves grammatical metaphor, a junctional construct (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 46, 272), embodying the meanings of both the metaphorical and congruent grammatical realisations.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Shooshi Dreyfus On 'Does'

While this notion does make sense on the surface,
one of emphasis, or something else?
2) How does it compare to
While this notion makes sense on the surface,
? No emphasis?

And building on these comments, surely you can’t look at this properly till you see the co-text? Firstly, it’s a dependent clause and in order for us to understand it we need to see not only the independent clause with which it must be paired but also the rest of the text so we can see the prosody being “carried” through the rest of the text? Surely the “does”, in part, gets its meaning from all those other meanings around it that are contributing to whatever “argument” is being built here?


Blogger Comments:

[1] To be sure, the significant differences between the two clauses can be "looked at properly" by applying SFL theory, even in the absence of co-text:

While
this notion
does
make
sense
on the surface

Subject
Finite
Predicator
Complement
comment Adjunct: qualified: validity
'reservation'

'reservation'

Given

New: contrastive
Given

New: contrastive


While
this notion
makes
sense
on the surface

Subject
Finite
Predicator
Complement
comment Adjunct: qualified: validity
'reservation'
Given




New: contrastive

To be clear, both variants could be instantiated with the exact same co-text.

[2] To be sure, it is not necessary to see any other clauses in order to understand the differences between the two presented for discussion, as [1] above demonstrates.

[3] To be sure, any prosodies "being carried through the rest of the text" are relevant to the rest of the text.  The prosody "being carried through" the instances in question is TONE 4 which here realises the KEY feature 'reservation'.  However, this doesn't distinguish the two clauses, since it is instantiated in both.  The distinction between them is informational (textual), dependent on whether or not the Finite can be highlighted as contrastive.

[4] To be sure, the meaning of does is realised by its congruent grammatical function in this instance.