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Monday, 8 October 2018

David Banks On "Complex Verbal Groups"

In answer to the query:
1. In a structure like: "Honey, don't forget to pay the bill before the week is over" should I say that 'forget to pay' is a complex verbal group? O should I say that 'forget' is a mental process that projects the clause complex 'to pay the bill before the week is over'? 
2. If I compare these two uses of "want":
1. "I want to visit the Vatican"
2. "I want Mary to visit the Vatican"
I'd say that in number 1, 'want to visit' is a complex verbal group, where 'want' shows inclination phase, while in number 2, 'want' is a process that projects 'Mary to visit the Vatican' am I right?  
3. Finally, a case similar to the one with 'forget': in a clause like "that afternoon, we decided to go over the wall" should I say that "decided to go" is a complex VG or should I say that "decided" is a mental process that projects "to go over the wall"

 David Banks wrote to sysfling on 5 October 2018 at 19:47:
1. It seems to me that you can only say that it is a complex verb group if there is only one process involved (e.g. continue to pay). Here, it seems obvious that forgetting and paying are quite separ[a]te processes, so it is not a complex verb group. 
2. It does not seem logical to have completely different analyses for these two examples. The fact that English "understands" the subject of "visit" in 1, to be the same as the subject of "want" does not alter the fact that it is basically the same structure as 2. 
3. The answer to this is the same as for No.1.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Trivially, a verbal group complex is not a complex verbal group.  The former is a complex of verbal groups, and a theoretical term, whereas the latter is a single verbal group deemed to be "complex".

[2] To be clear, it is important to distinguish between Process (clause rank) and Event (group rank).  A verbal group nexus construes two Events as one Process; examples provided by Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 569, 574, 580, 587) include:
  • decides to write
  • would like to paint
  • forget to do
  • remind to do
  • want to do
  • ask to do
  • anticipate doing
  • profess to do.

That is, the instances in question, forget to pay and decided to go, can be interpreted as verbal group complexes that construe two Events as a single Process.

[3] The two different analyses correspond to the preferred analyses of Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 584-6), who provide the reasoning on which the analytical distinction is based.

But, to be clear, the two instances do not have "basically the same structure", since, if both are interpreted as projecting clause nexuses, the second projected clause includes a topical Theme, an Actor and an explicit Subject, and so a Mood element, whereas the first has none of these.

However, a functional theory gives priority, in grammatical reasoning, to the view from above: to system and function, rather than to structure and form (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 49).  From above, the two instances differ in terms of the interpersonal meaning being realised.  In the first clause complex, I want to visit the Vatican, the desiderative Process projects an offer, whereas in the second, I want Mary to visit the Vatican, it projects a command.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 584) explain:
We saw in Chapter 7, Section that a mental process of desideration projects an exchange of the goods-&-services type, i.e. a proposal. If the Subject of the projection is the same as that of the mental process clause, the proposal is an offer, as in she wants to do it; if the two are different, then the proposal is a command, as in she wants you to do it. In the first type, the Subject is not repeated, but is carried over from the desiderative clause. (It can then be made explicit by a reflexive, as in she wants to do it herself.)
Moreover, the second clause complex is also an instance of an interpersonal metaphor of modality, being the metaphorical counterpart of Mary should visit the Vatican; see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 693).

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Mick O'Donnell On "Main And Support Verbs"

In answer to the query:
1. In a structure like: "Honey, don't forget to pay the bill before the week is over" should I say that 'forget to pay' is a complex verbal group? O should I say that 'forget' is a mental process that projects the clause complex 'to pay the bill before the week is over'?

 Michael O'Donnell wrote to Sysfling on 5 October 2018 at 18:40:
There are arguments for both analyses, here. 
I would argue for grouping "forget to pay" and "forget that..." as both instances of mental processes.
1. if you follow your precedent and treat "She forgot to pay" as a complex verbal group, then would you do the same with "She SAID to pay at the counter". So, where do you draw the line in determining whether the first verb is the main verb or the support verb
2. In Construal Analysis (analysing a document to see what participant roles particular entities fill), it would probably be beneficial to treat the participant as both construed Sensor and Actor. Alternatively, in "he started to think", I don't see the value of recording a participant role for "starting". 
3. In a case like:
A: Did you pay him?
B: I forgot. 
...where the second is elliptical for "I forgot to pay him", it seems strange to say "forget" is not the main verb. It is certainly the main activity reported. 
None of these arguments are conclusive. I think the issue of where the dividing line lies between aspectual verbs and projecting verbs is very blurred, with different linguists placing the involved verbs on different sides. I have always gone with the criteria that if the verb involves mental or verbal action (semantically), then this should be recognised, allowing it to group with the other cases where the projection takes the form of a that-clause, a present participle clause, or a nominal group.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Trivially, a verbal group complex is not a complex verbal group.  The former is a complex of verbal groups, and a theoretical term, whereas the latter is a single verbal group deemed to be "complex".

[2] To be clear, while 'forget (that…)' is unambiguously an instance of a mental Process, 'forget to pay' can alternatively be analysed as a verbal group complex that construes two Events, 'forget' and 'pay' as a material Process; see, for example, Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 574).

[3] This is a non-sequitur, since the two instances differ markedly.  In She forgot to pay, a proposition is mentally projected with the same Subject as the projecting clause; whereas, in She said to pay at the counter, a proposal is verbally projected with a different Subject from the projecting clause.

[4] To be clear, in terms of SFL theory, the question is whether
  • the verbal groups form a complex to realise a single process in a clause simplex, or
  • each verbal group realises a different process in a clause complex.

What O'Donnell calls "the main verb" is the verb serving as the Event of the verbal group that serves as the Process of a projecting clause in a clause complex; what O'Donnell calls "the support verb" is the verb serving as the Event of the projecting verbal group of a verbal group complex.  In focusing on verbs, O'Donnell is focusing on form (the view from below) instead of function (the view from above).

[5] Here O'Donnell is largely consistent with Halliday ± Matthiessen (1985, 1994, 2004, 2014) — though unwittingly so, since he presents the analysis as his own.

[6] For reasoning with regard to the distinction between projection in clause complexes and projection in verbal group complexes, see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 584-92).

[7] Here O'Donnell misinterprets the question of what rank complexing takes place, clause or group, as a distinction between "aspectual and projecting verbs".  Moreover, this distinction reduces the vast array of potential relations between (what are) verbal groups in verbal group complexes to time phase elaboration ("aspectual") and projection.  The systemic potential of verbal group complex is given in Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 584-92) as:

[8] To be clear, the issue is not what linguists do, but whether analyses are consistent with the theory said linguists are using.

[9] This criterion is oblivious to the question of what rank, clause or group, the "mental or verbal action" is to be "recognised".

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

David Rose On "The Attributive Nucleus"

The answer lies in their orbital (nucleus/margin/periphery) structuring. David Banks semantically re-interpeted the attributive nucleus (us + into this/ us + out) as a ‘result’ of the attributing agency (I got/gonna get), which is marginal (IFG pp350, 211, Martin 1996, Working with Discourse §3.3). 
Agency in English grammar is potentially recursive…
they made me get us into this
But 'us + into this’ remains the attributive nucleus (Medium/Carrier + Range/Attribute) … 
It's intriguing to see the intricacies of meaning made by the grammar itself.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, the answer to a transitivity question depends on the ability to understand and apply transitivity theory.  The 'orbital structuring' Rose refers to is Martin's misunderstanding of Halliday's clause nuclearity, rebranded and relocated to Martin's ill-conceived discourse semantic stratum.
  • For the misunderstandings of clause nuclearity in Martin (1992), see the relevant posts in the critique of Chapter 5 here.
  • For the misunderstandings of clause nuclearity in Martin & Rose (2007), see the relevant posts in the critique of Chapter 3 here.
  • For some of the reasons why Martin's discourse semantic stratum is ill-conceived, see Why The Argument For A 'Discourse' Semantic Stratum Is Invalid.
[2] See the previous post for the theoretical misunderstanding that invalidates Banks' analysis.

[3] To be clear, Banks' clause analysis was presented as grammatical, not semantic.

[4] On the one hand, this is deeply misleading, since it falsely implies that Rose's statement is consistent with Halliday ± Matthiessen (1985, 1994, 2004, 2014), and thereby endorsed by them.  On the other hand, it is a poor bluff, since neither of the cited pages — in any edition — says anything at all about clause nuclearity.

[5] To be clear, the discussion of nuclear relations in Working With Discourse (Martin & Rose 2007) is §3.4.  The concern of §3.3 is taxonomic relations, which is Halliday & Hasan's lexical cohesion misunderstood, rebranded and relocated by Martin from textual lexicogrammar to experiential discourse semantics.

[6] To be clear, according to Martin (1992: 319) and Martin & Rose (2007: 95), it is Range: entity that is said to be within the nucleus.  The prepositional phrase into this, interpreted as a circumstantial Attribute, does not function as Range: entity.  Circumstances, on the other hand, are said (ibid.) to be located at the periphery.

For the original, theoretically consistent model of clause nuclearity, see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 348):

[7] To be clear, making meaning is semogenesis, and it involves all strata.   In SFL theory, grammar (wording) realises meaning (semantics).  This confusion between semogenesis and stratification derives from Martin (1992); see for example:
On the other hand, in SFL theory, the grammar not only realises meaning, it construes (intellectually constructs) it.  That is, it is the grammar that makes possible the sorts of meanings that language can make.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603-4):
The central meaning-making resource in language — its "content plane" — is stratified into two systems: that of lexicogrammar, and that of semantics. The semantic system is the 'outer' layer, the interface where experience is transformed into meaning. The 'inner' layer is the grammar, which masterminds the way this transformation takes place.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

David Banks Conflating Participant And Circumstance

Alternatively (and I think I would prefer this), one could think of this as being some sort of physical action which resulted in our being in this situation. This would give something like:
us into this
Material process

'm gonna get
us out
Material process

Blogger Comments:

[1] Trivially, this flouts the descriptive convention of capitalising the function, Process, rather than its subtype, material.

[2] This conflates participant (us) and circumstance (into thisout) into a circumstance of Cause: result, realised by a nominal group.  On a material reading of such clauses, the conflation is of Goal and Location.  (On a relational reading, the conflation is of Carrier and locative Attribute.)

Interestingly, the conflation arises from confusing result, in the sense of a type of circumstance, with the (locative) outcome of a material Process; see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 225-36).

As a consequence, both clauses are misinterpreted as intransitive instead of transitive, and the Actor as Medium instead of Agent.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

David Rose On Congruent Relations Between Semantics And Grammatical Classes Across Languages

Useful discussion in 
Halliday, M.A.K. (1988). On the Ineffability of Grammatical Categories. James D. Benson, Michael J.Cummings and William S. Greaves (eds.) Linguistics in a Systemic Perspective. (CILT39). Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 27-51.
Otherwise, yes, linguists seem to assume grammatical classes across languages, that are defined semantically to some extent. Eg attached figure (Rose & Martin 2012) could apply to all the languages I know of.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, Halliday (1988) says nothing about the relation between semantic categories and grammatical classes across different languages (the subject of Othman's query).  Instead, it is concerned, on the one hand, with explaining why functional grammatical categories, such as Subject, cannot be theorised by decoding them from above (by reference to what they realise) and, on the other hand, with identifying ways around the problem, which in SFL, means encoding them from below (by reference to what realises them).

[2] To be clear, this figure is intended to represent relations between discourse semantic categories and grammatical classes.  Each of the five realisation relations can be examined in turn.
  • Attitude realised by adjective.  The problem here is that the congruent realisation of attitude is not limited to the word class 'adjective', as demonstrated, for example, by the attitudinal potential of 'idiot' (noun), 'stupidly' (adverb), and 'deceive' (verb).
  • Entity realised by nominal group.  The problem here is that, in the discourse semantic model, the term 'entity' is not a general category, but only features as a subtype of Range (Martin 1992: 309-11; Martin & Rose 2007: 96).  For Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 177), the experiential semantic element congruently realised by the nominal group is 'participant'.
  • Event realised by verbal group.  The problem here is that, in the discourse semantic model, the term 'event' is grammatical, not discourse semantic (Martin 1992: 325; Martin & Rose 2007: 97).
  • Figure realised by clause. This is true, but misleading, because the term 'figure', and its congruent relation with the clause, do not derive from Martin's (1992) discourse semantic model, but from the ideational semantics of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999).
  • Activity sequence realised by clause complex.  In the ideational semantics of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 49), it is the sequence that is congruently realised as a clause complex.  In Martin (1992: 321-5), activity sequences are located in field, the ideational dimension of context misconstrued as register.  In Martin & Rose (2007: 76), activity sequences are reinterpreted as discourse semantic: as an experiential system, IDEATION, Martin's misunderstanding and rebranding of Halliday's textual system of lexical cohesion, inter alia.  For the theoretical inconsistencies in activity sequences in Martin (1992), see here; for theoretical inconsistencies in IDEATION in Martin (1992), see here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

John Bateman On Stratification And Reductionism

Stratificational description is not reductionism, it is not dissection and shredding of inalienable parts, and so on; it is drawing out the manifold ways in which behaviours and contexts co-articulate.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is true.  Semantics does not reduce to phonology; culture does not reduce to phonetics.

[2] This misunderstands reductionism. Reductionism is not "the dissection and shredding of inalienable parts and so on" but the epistemological misunderstanding that the analysis of complex phenomena reduces them to the lowest level of organisation.  An example of reductionism is a previous contribution from Bateman himself (critiqued here):
well, *actually* there is no such thing as text. There's just variations of patterns of pressure gradients in the air and contrasts in brightness in the visual field....
[3] To be clear, the stratification hierarchy in SFL theory is a means of parcelling out the complexity of language into different levels of symbolic abstraction:
  • meaning (semantics), 
  • wording (lexicogrammar) and 
  • sounding (phonology) / writing (graphology).

Monday, 11 June 2018

David Rose On The Advantages And Implications Of Martin's Discourse Semantic Model

One advantage of this model is that discourse systems can be described metafunctionally, and explained stratally in terms of social functions. So patterns of tenor tend to be realised by patterns of appraisals and exchanges, patterns of field by ideation and conjunction, and mode patterns by variations in periodicity and identification
One implication of such a Hjelmselvian model is that systems at each connotative and denotative stratum are instantiated simultaneously as a text unfolds. That is, the inter-stratal relation is not only a hierarchy of abstraction, but also of co-instantiation (or coupling), with each stratum contributing different orders of meaning making resources as texts unfold.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  This is not an advantage that the discourse semantic model has over theory-consistent models of semantics in SFL, since this is merely a statement about the SFL hierarchy of stratification that all SFL models share.

[2] The term 'social' here is potentially misleading, since it is the culture as a semiotic system that is realised by the semiotic system of language, not the social system in the sense of the material order of sayers (and sensers) who project the semiotic order of culture realised by language.

[3] To be clear, in SFL theory, these are patterns of instantiation — feature selection — during logogenesis, with different choice frequencies in texts as instances of different choice probabilities of different registers.

[4] To be clear, Rose follows Martin in misconstruing tenor, field and mode as dimensions of register misconstrued as context.  For some of the theoretical misunderstandings and inconsistencies in treating register as context, see here (register) or here (context).

[5] To be clear, 'exchange' and 'appraisal' are not "discourse" systems, but genuine semantic systems.  At the beginning of his reply to Steiner, Rose identified discourse systems as the grammatical systems of cohesion that Martin reinterpreted as his own discourse semantic systems.

[6] To be clear, 'ideation' and 'conjunction' are Martin's misunderstandings and rebrandings of Halliday's cohesive systems of lexical cohesion and cohesive conjunction (textual metafunction) as experiential and logical systems. As textual systems, their contextual counterpart is mode, not field. For some of many theoretical misunderstandings and inconsistencies in Martin's 'ideation', see here; for some of the many misunderstandings and inconsistencies in Martin's 'conjunction', see here.

[7] To be clear, 'periodicity' is a reinterpretation and rebranding by Martin & Rose (2003/2007) of what Martin (1992: 392-3) construes as interaction patterns between strata, with strata misunderstood as modules of meaning.  It is largely a confusion of writing pedagogy and linguistic theory, where pedagogical terms (introductory paragraph, topic sentence, paragraph summary, text summary) are rebranded as theoretical terms (macro-Theme, hyper-Theme, hyper-New, macro-New).  For some of many theoretical misunderstandings and inconsistencies involved, see here.

[8] To be clear, 'identification' is Martin's (1992) misunderstanding and rebranding of Halliday's system of cohesive reference.  It confuses, for example, reference with nominal group deixis, the experiential meaning of the referent with the textual means of referring, and the immanent perspective on meaning with the transcendent perspective.  For some of many theoretical misunderstandings and inconsistencies involved, see here.

[9] This is misleading.  This is not an implication of the discourse semantic model in particular, since it is merely a confused statement about the SFL dimensions of stratification and instantiation that all SFL models share.

[10] This is misleading because it conflates the dimension of stratification with the dimension of instantiation and misrepresents the confusion as a theoretical insight (Martin's "co-instantiation or coupling").

[11] With the wording 'different orders of meaning', Rose is repeating Martin's misunderstanding of all strata as modules of meaning, which arises from Martin's misinterpretation of 'all strata make meaning' (semogenesis) as 'all strata model meaning'.  See, for example, here.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

David Rose Promoting Martin's Discourse Semantics Model

The discourse semantic model attempts to resolve this contradiction, by treating the discourse/grammar relation as stratal abstraction, rather than instantiation. That is, the discourse semantic stratum consists of feature/structure systems that are instantiated in the discourse patterns of texts. These discourse semantic patterns are realised inter-stratally as grammatical patterns, that instantiate grammatical systems.

Blogger Comments:

[1] See the previous post for why the said contradiction only arises from Rose's misunderstandings of instantiation and cohesion.  This clause thus begins the logical fallacy known as a straw man argument:
A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted. This, of course, is a fallacy, because the position that has been claimed to be refuted is different to that which has actually been refuted; the real target of the argument is untouched by it.

[2] To be clear, treating discourse and grammar as two strata of symbolic abstraction is reinterpreting the word 'discourse' to mean 'semantics'.  A complicating factor here is that the stratum of discourse semantics (Martin 1992) was not theorised with an understanding of strata as different levels of symbolic abstraction.  Instead, Martin misinterpreted all strata as interacting modules of meaning. Martin (1992: 390, 392, 488):
Each of the presentations of linguistic text forming resources considered above adopted a modular perspective. As far as English Text is concerned this has two main dimensions: stratification and, within strata, metafunction. …
The modularity imposed by stratification is also an important issue. Discourse systems generate structures which in principle cut across grammatical and phonological ones. …
In this chapter a brief sketch of some of the ways in which discourse semantics interacts with lexicogrammar and phonology has been presented. The problem addressed is a fundamental concern of modular models of semiosis — namely, once modules are distinguished, how do they interface? What is the nature of the conversation among components? 
[3] There is a sense in which the relation between grammar and discourse is one of instantiation, though not the sense understood by Rose.  The relation between grammatical systems and the grammar of a text is instantiation, and for Halliday (2008: 78), text and discourse are two views on the same phenomenon:
I do make a difference 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.
[4] A most serious shortcoming of the discourse semantic model (Martin 1992), in this regard, is that its system networks do not specify how choices in discourse semantic systems are realised as discourse semantic structures.  Moreover, attempts to do so would expose deficiencies in the theorising of structure.  For example, on the one hand, discourse* semantic units are not structures, since they have no internal organisation; and on the other hand, the relations between Martin's discourse* semantic units are not structural, since they are rebrandings of Halliday's (non-structural) cohesive relations.  Moreover, the type of structure Martin interprets them to be, co-variate, was later acknowledged by its source, Lemke (1988: 159), as not being a type of structure after all.  For more detailed critiques of discourse semantic structure, see here.

[5] A most serious shortcoming of the discourse* semantic model (Martin 1992), in this regard, is that its system networks do not specify how choices in discourse semantic systems are realised as choices in grammatical systems.  Moreover, attempts to do so would expose deficiencies in the theorising.  Two examples will illustrate this fact.  On the one hand, the logical discourse semantic system of CONJUNCTION does not recognise the three most general types of expansion: elaboration, extension and enhancement; because of this, most, if not all, realisation relations between discourse semantics an grammar are incongruent, whether metaphorical or not.  On the other hand, the logical discourse semantic system of CONJUNCTION does not include the major logical semantic system of projection, and so cannot account for projection relations anywhere at the level grammar.

* Martin's interpersonal discourse semantics is a general exception, because it is largely a rebranding of genuinely semantic systems and structures, devised by others, not Martin.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

David Rose Misunderstanding Cohesion And Instantiation

In the cohesion model your post advocates, texts are modelled instantially, as cohesive relations between grammatical instances. For empirical research, this model must resort to classifying text types by statistical counting of grammatical types (not a ‘bag-of-words', but a countable collection of clause types). It must do so because it no longer has access to the SFL empiricism of systems, since cohesive relations are defined as 'non-structural’, i.e. outside the feature/structure relations of grammatical systems. …

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, the cohesion model referred to is the SFL model, first articulated by Halliday & Hasan (1976) and integrated explicitly within the lexicogrammatical model in the four editions of An Introduction To Functional Grammar (Halliday ± Matthiessen).

[2] This misunderstands instantiation.  In SFL theory, language-as-text is construed as an instance of language-as-system, and in this sense, all texts are "modelled instantially" by those who understand the theory.

[3] This misunderstands instantiation.  In SFL theory, every deployment of cohesion in a text is a lexicogrammatical instance of the lexicogrammatical system of cohesion.  The wording "cohesive relations between grammatical instances" is nonsensical.

[4] To be clear, empirical research is a way of gaining knowledge by means of direct and indirect observation or experience.

[5] To be clear, grammatical cohesion and the classification of text types are distinct domains of SFL theory.

[6] To be clear, in SFL theory, the different frequencies of grammatical choices in texts are instances of the different probabilities that distinguish different registers.

[7] On the one hand, this is invalid reasoning ("it must do so…") from the series of misunderstandings that precede it; see [1] to [6] above.  On the other hand, it invalidly argues a false conclusion from a misunderstanding of a true premiss.  The argument is as follows:
  • A. cohesive relations are defined as non-structural (true)
  • B. cohesive relations are outside the feature/structure relations of grammatical systems (misunderstanding of A)
  • C. the model of cohesion has no access to systems (false)
To be clear, the reason that B is a misunderstanding of A is that the fact that the syntagmatic realisation of cohesion is non-structural does not entail that the paradigmatic organisation of cohesion is not modelled as system.  The claims of both B and C are falsified by the system of cohesive conjunction (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 612):

[8] To be clear, empiricism is the theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses.  This is distinct from the use of system networks to model language as choice.

Friday, 8 June 2018

David Rose On Register And Genre As Connotative Semiotics

In SFL terms, a semiotic is a system of features realised by structures.
Hjelmslev defined connotative semiotics as having another semiotic as its expression plane, including those 'involving interpretation and cultural norms’ (in your terms), whose expression plane is language. … 
Connotative semiotics should be describable as systems of field, tenor, mode and genre, as language is describable as metafunctional systems. The unit of analysis for these strata is minimally a text, up to indefinitely large series of texts (of which our threads are microcosms). But such descriptions depend on how we analyse texts. …

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading, because it is untrue. In SFL terms, a 'semiotic' need not involve structures, as exemplified by the semogenesis of protolanguage and traffic lights.  More fundamental to the architecture of a 'semiotic' are the global* dimensions of stratification and instantiation.

* See, for example, Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 32) for 'the global and local semiotic dimensions of language in context'.

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, the more abstract semiotic system that has language as its expression plane, context, is modelled metafunctionally in terms of field, tenor and mode.  However, what Rose strategically omits, here, is that he follows Martin (1992) in mistaking field, tenor and mode as systems of register.  As functional varieties of language, registers are coherently modelled in SFL as subsystems of language, not systems of the context that is realised by language.  For some of the inconsistencies in modelling registerial varieties of language as context, instead of language, see the reasoning here (register) or here (context).

[3] The notion of genre as a more abstract semiotic system than language is invalidated for the same reasons as register, which is not surprising, given that, in SFL theory, register and genre (text type) are two different angles on the very same point of variation on the cline of instantiation.  Register is the view from the system pole, whereas text type (genre) is the view from the instance pole.  As varieties of language, genres are language, and as such, not more abstract than language.  The notion of genre as also more abstract than register thus involves further inconsistencies. For some of the inconsistencies in modelling generic varieties of language as context, instead of language, see the reasoning here.

To be clear, the identification of genre with text type in the model of genre as context is acknowledged in Working With Discourse (Martin & Rose 2007: 8):
We use the term genre in this book to refer to different types of texts that enact various types of social contexts.
A further complicating inconsistency in this regard is that, despite arguing that register and genre are levels of a connotative semiotic whose expression plane is language, Martin & Rose (2007: 4) neverthesss include the higher level semiotic within the strata of language:
[relevant] levels of language: as grammar, as discourse, and as social context (known as the strata of language)

[4] To be clear, contrary to Rose's implication, the model of genre as context (Martin 1992: 546-73) is  not described either in terms of metafunction, or in terms of system.  See, for example, Martin's Reasons For Not Devising Genre Systems.

[5] Here Rose, having argued that register and genre are not language, but connotative semiotics whose expression plane is language, nevertheless identifies a unit of language, text, as a unit of the connotative semiotic.  In terms of SFL theory, the inconsistency is thus a confusion of different levels of symbolic abstraction.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

David Rose Misunderstanding Generalisation And Abstraction

Why don’t we start on common ground, with the empirical technique Michael Halliday bequeathed us, the system network? Since it encapsulates the roles of generalisation and abstraction in semiosis.

A system relates features by generalisation... two or more features are grouped in a system by similarity, and distinguished by difference. But these relations are recognised by similarities and differences in the structures that realise them. This axial relation between feature and structure is abstraction, feature/value: structure/token.

The structures in our realisation statements are also generalisations. They generalise recurrent instances in text corpora. So the axial feature/structure relation is abstraction, while the instantial structure/instance relation is generalisation, and so is the paradigmatic feature/feature relation. This complex of relations is illustrated in the attached diagram.
These generalisation/abstraction relations are iterated fractally as we expand our descriptions outwards from a single system. Paradigmatic feature/feature generalisations are iterated as we expand systems in delicacy. The token/value abstraction is iterated as we expand from stratum to stratum. ...

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, 'empirical' means based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.  A system network is a construal of language (data) as theoretical categories organised by logical semantic relations:
  • elaboration (delicacy),
  • extension: addition (conjunction),
  • extension: alternation (disjunction), and
  • enhancement: condition (entry condition).

[2] To be clear, a system network orders features in terms of delicacy.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 14):
the paradigmatic network is ordered in delicacy (subsumption, classification, specialisation), from the least delicate (most general) to the most delicate (most specific types).
[3] To be clear,  the features of a system are co-hyponyms of a superordinate type, such as [mental] vs [material] PROCESS TYPE.

[4] To be clear, the "similarity and difference relations" in a system are paradigmatic (choice) relations, whereas the "similarity and difference relations" in a structure are syntagmatic (chain) relations — the two types being of a different order.  So, for example, in the clause:
David couldn't understand
the systemic difference in choosing [mental] instead of, say, [material] PROCESS TYPE is not "recognised" in the structural "difference" between Senser and Process.

[5] To be clear, the axial relation of realisation (symbolic abstraction) obtains between syntagmatic organisation (token) and paradigmatic organisation (value).  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 13):
… on the one hand, syntagmatic organisation realises paradigmatic organisation; on the other hand, types in a network of paradigmatic organisation correspond to fragments of syntagmatic specification …
[6] This confuses the general–to–specific dimension: delicacy, with the token–to–type dimension: instantiation; see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 144-5).

[7] Contrary to the claim, the diagram does not encompass the dimension of instantiation.

[8] In addition to the problems already highlighted, two of the inconsistencies that invalidate this diagram are:
  • it misrepresents syntagmatic structure as a paradigmatic system; and
  • it construes the logical relation of 'similarity', not as a relation between features, as it does with 'difference', but as features themselves.
That is, reading the diagram, for both system and structure, the entry condition 'similarity' affords a choice between 'similarity' and 'similarity', where each 'similarity' is different from the other 'similarity'.

[9] These are claims about multiple confusions and misunderstandings, as demonstrated above.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

John Bateman Misunderstanding Realisation

I'd only ever use 'abstraction' as an interstratal relationship (I hope); I can't get my head around the other characterizations as concerning differences in level/degree of abstraction. … 
And the problem as always with considering 'realization' as 'encoding' is primarily the intellectual baggage that encoding/decoding brings with it. I prefer the technical term and go for metaredundancy. Relations between different levels of abstraction are interesting and I don't think any kind of 'coding' metaphor gets off on the right foot, because it can sound as if the descriptions have independent existence. Co-description does it better perhaps; co-articulation too. If we take the old prism metaphor, one colour does not 'encode' another (even if there *were* 'colours'). The extent to which any of these levels of abstraction may usefully be considered to have separate 'existence' is then subsequently surely, surprise surprise, also an empirical issue. :-)

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, the relation of symbolic abstraction (realisation), the fundamental semiotic relation, obtains not just between strata, but throughout the architecture of SFL theory.  For example, realisation obtains
  • between axes: syntagmatic structures realise paradigmatic systems, and
  • between form and function: formal syntagms (nominal group ^ verbal group) realise function structures (Medium ^ Process).
Less well known, however, are the intra-stratal realisation relations entailed by grammatical metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 288-9):
The metaphorical relation is thus similar to inter-stratal realisation in that it construes a token-value type of relation. Here, however, the relation is intra-stratal: the identity holds between different meanings, not between meanings and wordings. The metaphor consists in relating different semantic domains of experience: the domain of figures is construed in terms of the domain of participants, and so on (just as in a familiar lexical metaphor the domain of intensity is construed in terms of the domain of vertical space). It is the fact that metaphor multiplies meanings within the semantic system that opens up the possibility of metaphorical chains, with one congruent starting-point and another highly metaphorical end-point (A"' stands for A" stands for A' stands for A; e.g. 'engine failure' stands for 'the failing of an engine' stands for 'an engine failed'). The semantic system is being expanded along the dimension of the metaphorical token-value relation; but the expansion is still within the semantic system itself.
[2] This misunderstands realisation.  As a symbolic identifying relation (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 288), realisation construes an identity between two levels of symbolic abstraction, a lower token and a higher value, such that either can be construed as identifying the other.  When a token is used to identify a value, the identity is encoding: it encodes a value by reference to a token; when a value is used to identify a token, the identity is decoding: it decodes a token by reference to a value.

Applied to the inter-stratal realisation relation between lexicogrammar (token) and semantics (value), if lexicogrammar is used to identify semantics, the identity encodes semantics by reference to lexicogrammar; and if semantics is used to identify lexicogrammar, the identity decodes lexicogrammar by reference to semantics.

encoding semantics by reference to lexicogrammar:
Identifier Token
Process: identifying
Identified Value

decoding lexicogrammar by reference to semantics:
Identified Token
Process: identifying
Identifier Value

[3] Here Bateman misconstrues 'realisation', the technical term for an ordering principle, as a metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 7):
The sound system and the writing system are the two modes of expression by which the lexicogrammar of a language is represented, or realised (to use the technical term).

[4] This misconstrues metaredundancy as a relation between two strata and as an alternative to realisation.  As Halliday (1992: 23-5) explains, realisation is itself a redundancy relation, and metaredundancy is the redundancy in a series of redundancies:
But realisation is not a causal relation; it is a redundancy relation, so that x redounds with the redundancy of y with z. To put it in more familiar terms, it is not that (i) meaning is realised by wording and wording is realised by sound, but that (ii) meaning is realised by the realisation of wording in sound.  We can of course reverse the direction, and say that sounding realises the realisation of meaning in wording.
[5] Here Bateman again raises the notion of 'existence', despite previously claiming that it "detracts" from 'the main business of work'.  More importantly, levels of symbolic abstraction are different angles on the same phenomenon, so the notion of different levels having 'independent existence' is nonsensical.

[6] Invoking the 'old prism metaphor' demonstrates that Bateman understands neither levels of abstraction nor encoding.  The colours in the spectrum of visible light are all construed at the same level of abstraction, so the notion of one colour encoding another is nonsensical.

[7] Here Bateman again raises the notion of 'existence', despite previously claiming that it "detracts" from 'the main business of work'.  On the SFL model, colours are construals of experience as meaning, further reconstrued in the field of colour perception, for example, as varying according to the frequency of photon impacts on differently sensitive cone cells in the retina.

[8] To be clear, the interpretation of empirical evidence in terms of existence (ontology) depends on the epistemological assumptions of the field.