Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Two Male Elephant Seals Negotiating The Finer Points Of Grammar

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Tom Bartlett On Disjunct Choices

But my main point is that we shouldn't be surprised at this and we shouldn't base our objections on purely structural grounds. In our systems networks we have a disjunct choice at a node where a desiderative process can be followed by a Phenomenon (realised be an ngp) or can project an idea (realised by a TO-clause). As this is a single choice in functional terms, despite the different structural means of realisation of the potential choices, it should hardly be surprising that we could potentially have recursion and hence coordination here. Similarly, returning to Annabelle's original question, as we can add enhancing information to a clause either through a Circumstance or a subordinate clause it's hardly surprising that we can do both consecutively. Functional choice at a single rank, structural realisation at two. Tension. Living language.

Blogger Notes:

[1] "Our systems networks" presumably refers to Fawcett's derived 'Cardiff Grammar', because the disjunct choice Bartlett mentions is not a feature of Halliday's original model.  The choice of (insert) Phenomenon is a feature of mental clause systems (experiential metafunction) — see Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 209) — whereas the choice of projecting an idea clause from a mental clause is a feature of logico-semantic systems (logical metafunction).

[2] Again, to say "this is a single choice in functional terms" is presenting Fawcett's derived 'Cardiff Grammar' model in which systems are located on a higher stratum of the content plane that structures. In Halliday's original model, semantic stratum choices can be realised by different lexicogrammatical stratum choices.

[3] Again, to say "functional choice at a single rank, structural realisation at two" is presenting  Fawcett's derived 'Cardiff Grammar' model in which systems are located on a higher stratum of the content plane that structures. In Halliday's original model, semantic stratum choices can be realised by different lexicogrammatical stratum choices.

I am not sure why you assume I am taking a Cardiff perspective.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Tom Bartlett Mistaking A Clause For A Clause Complex (inter alia)

Jing Fang - thanks very much for the grammatically reasoned response. I agree with your method but, at the risk of sounding pig-headed, I would say both the following sound absolutely fine to me (I'll also try and find corpus examples* before Aachen!):
All he wants in life is an enjoyable job and to earn a good wage.

What do you want in life? An enjoyable job and to earn a good wage.

The Google gods were smiling on me! I googled "all he wants is a" + "and to" and at the top of just page two I found:
All he wants is a bit of cover and to attack late.
(I will only accept adding "to have" if you ALWAYS analyse the structure this way, thereby eliminataing [sic] WANT + Phen altogether - which I think mirrors the Cardiff approach once again - Robin?).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Bartlett's two clauses are encoding identifying clauses in which the Token is realised by an extending nominal group complex involving a nominal group and a rankshifted clause functioning as nominal group.  They do not involve a logical relation across ranks between a nominal group and a ranking clause, as Bartlett seems to believe.  See analysis here.

[2] Here Bartlett presents himself — rather than the theory or logically valid reasoning — as the arbiter of theory-consistent  or otherwise arguable analyses.

[3] Bartlett's 'WANT + Phenomenon' analysis demonstrates that he has mistaken these identifying relational clauses for desiderative mental clauses.  The mental clause he wants (in life) is rankshifted and functioning as Qualifier in a nominal group all [[he wants (in life)]] functioning as Value.

[4] Adding "to have" and eliminating "want(s)" — there is no Phenomenon to eliminate — yields the nonsensical:
All he in life is to have an enjoyable job and to earn a good wage
All he is to have a bit of cover and to attack late 

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Tom Bartlett On Ellipsis And Paratactic Extension

1 Do you want this jacket
+ 2 or [do you want] to try another
This is a possibility, agreed. But in general, I'm very dubious about using ellipsis as a way of explaining coordination, especially if the posited ellipted material is substantial (as here). It begins to look very like underlying deep structure.... And it can be used to explain just about anything, not only troublesome examples. For example, why not analyse the following coordinations as ellipsis instead?
I saw Tom and Mary
I would like a bat and a ball.
I saw Tom and I saw Mary
I would like a bat and I would like a ball.
Why only invoke ellipsis when we are in theoretical trouble, as a kind of verbum ex machina? What Alice's alternative/agnate examples show, in my opinion, is the functional similarity between the two strings following "Do you want" - both encode a desired change of state. As either way [of] representing the change of state can structurally follow from "would you like" then the speaker can "choose" to coordinate them even though one option is an ngp and the other a to-clause. Got to trust the data!

Blogger Comments:

[1] Interpersonally, the clauses I saw Tom and Mary and I would like a bat and a ball each enact a single proposition, whereas the clause complexes I saw Tom and I saw Mary and I would like a bat and I would like a ball each enact two propositions.  Logically, the distinction is between two nominal groups related by paratactic extension, and two clauses related by paratactic extension.

[2] Ellipsis is not invoked to get out of theoretical trouble; it is a theoretical means of systematically explaining the textual choices that speakers and writers use in creating cohesion in their texts.

[3] A grammatical analysis of Bartlett's invented example Do you want this jacket or to try another? can be found here.  Both clauses can be interpreted as a material process, in which the Process is realised by a hypotactic verbal group complex of desiderative projection.  See Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 515-9).

[4] Only forms of the same rank can be related tactically and logico-semantically.  A nominal group can only be related logically to a clause if the clause is rank-shifted so as to be functioning at group rank.

[5] Theorists encode the theory by reference to the data, and text analysts decode the data by reference to the theory.  In each case, the linguist is a cognitively projecting Assigner participating in an identifying process.  Trust, on the other hand, is a matter of faith.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Tom Bartlett On Facts


Sorry David, 
You are confusing a projected clause and an embedded clause. Clauses with embedded facts can be prefaced by "the fact/idea that"; they are not Complements of verbal processes but of processes of affect:reaction and the like.

He regretted (the fact) that he had lied. [affective process and embedded clause as Complement]

and then on the sys-func and sysfling lists at 21:51:
It's actually slightly more complicated than in my last as "the fact that he had lied" is not an embedding either. In this case the clause "that he lied" is projected by "the fact/idea" which is the (ellipted) Complement of the process of affect etc. So in such processes the Complement is an ngp.  
In verbal processes with projections (cf. Verbiage), the projected clause is projected directly by the verb as process. In such processes there is not an ngp Complement.



Blogger Comments:

[1] 'Complement' is an interpersonal function, not an experiential one.  The experiential function that corresponds to Complement is Verbiage/Range in verbal clauses and Phenomenon/Range in mental clauses.

[2] In SFL, the term 'affect' is used for interpersonal meaning, as a type of Attitude, from Appraisal Theory.  The experiential function in Bartlett's clause is Process: mental: emotive.

[3] The fact that he lied is embedded — rankshifted — since it is a clause that functioning as an element of the structure of another clause He regretted (the fact) that he had lied.  See analysis here.

[4] Here Bartlett is confused by the distinction between fact nouns and projection nouns, discussed in Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 468ff).

Friday, 27 March 2015

David Rose Mistaking A Locution For A Fact

Sorry Tom 
What’s coordinated in your example are two nominal groups, a nominal group complex functioning as Verbiage 
What’s confusing is that one nominal group is an embedded clause 
Did he tell you / his real name or [[that he was called Hot Lover Boy?]]
Embedded facts can be found in section 7.5.7 of IFG 
The rank scale is a central component of systemic functional theory. Its description is developed throughout Chs 1 and 2 of IFG 
To help untangle these confusions see section 8.9 Logical organization: complexes at clause and group or phrase rank, and groups 
For the students
David


Blogger Comments:

[1] The projection that he was called Hot Lover Boy is not embedded, and so: not a fact, and not forming a nominal group complex functioning as Verbiage.  See analysis here.  It does not come pre-projected, but is projected into semiotic existence by the clause did he tell you, just as in did he tell you that he was called Hot Lover Boy?, did he tell you that he tends to arrive early? etc.  If it were a fact, it would be possible to render it as did he tell you the fact that he was called Hot Lover Boy?

Cf. fact as circumstance of Matter: did he tell you about the fact that he was called Hot Lover Boy?

In a recent post — here — Rose made the opposite blunder, mistaking an embedded fact for a projected locution.

[2] Rose would do well to take his own advice and consult the references he provides for Bartlett so that he can 'read to learn' — "for the students".

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Tom Bartlett On Complexes

The following example clearly coordinates a nominal group with a clause, using SFL definitions:
Did he tell you his real name or that he was called Hot Lover Boy?
As a functional theory SFL needs to follow the data. And a functional theory should be able to handle the idea that similar functions (here Verbiage and projected clause as "information transmitted") are complexed even if they are structurally at different ranks.


Blogger Comments:

[1] Bartlett's example does not involve a relation of paratactic extension between a clause and a nominal group.  It is a clause complex in which a projecting verbal clause is omitted as a textual choice.  That is, the said clause complex is a textual agnate of 
Did he tell you his real name or did he tell you that he was called Hot Lover Boy? 
The agnates differ only textually — not experientially or interpersonally.  See analysis here.

[2] Theorists encode the theory by reference to the data, and text analysts decode the data by reference to the theory.  Following data can result in wild goose chases.

[3] Functions are not complexed — forms are.  That is, clauses, group/phrases and words form complexes, but a function such as Verbiage does not.  A function may be realised by a complex, as when Verbiage is realised by a nominal group complex, or when a Process is realised by a verbal group complex.

[4] The SFL term for clause projected by a verbal Process is a locution.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

David Rose On "Register"

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

[see grammatical analysis here.]




Now from register (axiologised field)… 
'America has carried on’ is the outcome of 2 factors ‘leading’ and ‘following’  
You may simply think leading is the main factor, but following may be more significant  
What is faithfully followed are the principles of the US constitution… ‘We the People’ implies principle of democracy  
But 'vision of those in high office’ and 'ideals of our forbears’ are co-classified, (vision for future, ideals from history) implying legitimate leadership 
All massively, tightly conspiring to legitimate the tangle of contradictions that is America in crisis


Blogger Comments:

[1] Given that registers are functional varieties of language, Rose says nothing here about this register differs from other registers.

[2] Even though field refers to the ideational dimension of context, 'what is going on' contextually, Rose in this section focuses on the language that realises the context, instead of focusing on the context itself.

[3] Here Rose totally misinterprets the context in which the language was spoken, mistaking the inauguration of a U.S. president for what he terms 'America in crisis'.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

David Rose Misrepresenting Lexicogrammar As Discourse Semantics 4: Interpersonal Metafunction

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

[see grammatical analysis here.]




Now from discourse semantics… 
4. interpersonally 
‘America’ and ‘We the People’ are modally responsible


Blogger Comments:

[1] The notion of the Subject as the modally responsible element is from the grammar, not discourse semantics.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 59):
A clause has meaning as an exchange, a transaction between speaker and listener; the Subject is the warranty of the exchange.  It is the element the speaker makes responsible for the validity of what he is saying.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 194):
Thus while a Goal readily becomes Subject … it is unusual to make a Scope element ‘modally responsible’ in this way …

Monday, 23 March 2015

David Rose Misrepresenting Lexicogrammar As Discourse Semantics 3: Textual Metafunction

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

[see grammatical analysis here.]




Now from discourse semantics… 
3. textually 
‘America’ and ‘We the People’ are parallel Themes, implying synonymy, implied again graphologically with Caps 
‘these moments’ classifies the event (as a national emergency?)


Blogger Comments

[1] 'America' is not Theme.  The first clause has a marked Theme At these moments, which also New, as indicated by the comma marking it off as an information unit.  This is grammar, not discourse semantics.

[2] The fact that two elements are both Themes of their respective clauses does not imply synonymy. Rather, the textual resources of cohesion — in this instance lexical cohesion: synonymy — and Theme can create texture by the way they work together.  This is grammar, not discourse semantics.

[3] The event is the 2009 inauguration of an American president, not a national emergency — a serious misreading of the text, as well as the theory.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

David Rose Misrepresenting Lexicogrammar As Discourse Semantics 2: "Ideational" Metafunction

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

[see grammatical analysis here.]




Now from discourse semantics… 
2. ideationally 
‘America’ and ‘those in high office’ and ‘We the People’ are lexically related as whole to its parts 
‘those in high office’ and ‘We the People’ are converse roles, redounding with the counterexpectancy 

Blogger Comments:

[1] In terms of metafunction, lexical relations are textual, not experiential.  (Rose presumably means 'experiential' rather than 'ideational', since he had previously discussed what he believes to be the logical metafunction).  The reason they are textual rather than experiential is that the experiential metafunction is concerned with the construal of experience, whereas the textual metafunction is 'meta' to the other metafunctions, in the sense that it is concerned with their packaging as information.  Here the focus is on relations between pieces of information, and so textual.  In the grammatics, lexical relations are a means of cohesion, the non-structural component of the textual metafunction.

[2] In terms of metafunction, relations between ‘those in high office’ and ‘We the People’ are textual, and 'counterexpectancy' is interpersonal — whatever the "redounding".

Saturday, 21 March 2015

David Rose Misrepresenting Lexicogrammar As Discourse Semantics 1: Logical Metafunction

At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

[see grammatical analysis here.]




Now from discourse semantics… 
1. logically 
‘because’ as preposition or conjunction are alternative realisations of reason (so 2 equal factors) 
‘not simply…but’ realises counterexpectancy (not just 1 factor) 

Blogger Comments:

[1] The prepositional phrase realising the circumstance of Cause: reason because of the skill or vision of those in high office and the dependent clause of cause: reason because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents are two grammatical means of construing cause: reason.  The insights come from the grammatics, not from a 'discourse semantics'.

[2] In terms of the metafunctions, 'counterexpectancy' is interpersonal, not logical.  That is, 'counterexpectancy' is not a feature of logico-semantic relations, expansion or projection, nor of interdependency (taxis).  In the grammar, it is a feature in the system of mood Adjuncts (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 128).

Friday, 20 March 2015

David Rose On Stratal Tension And Discourse Semantics

David Rose wrote to sys-func and Sysfling on 18 March 2015 at 09:15:
This is what stratal tension means… why we need a stratified model of grammar and discourse semantics...







Blogger Comment:

'Stratal tension' refers to instances of grammatical metaphor.  Grammatical metaphor was Halliday's principal motivation for stratifying the content plane into semantics and lexicogrammar.  The intrusion of the word 'discourse' before 'semantics' is redundant and potentially misleading.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 237):
Of course, what we are recognising here as two distinct constructions, the semantic and the grammatical, never had or could have had any existence the one prior to the other; they are our analytic representation of the overall semioticising of experience — how experience is construed into meaning. If the congruent form had been the only form of construal, we would probably not have needed to think of semantics and grammar as two separate strata: they would be merely two facets of the content plane, interpreted on the one hand as function and on the other as form.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

David Rose On Register As "Axiologised Field"

Now from register (axiologised field)
The task for functional grammarians is not simply to classify types of grammatical features, as you say, it is 'to figure out the implications both for theory and for descriptions’. I’m not sure a 'form/function’ contrast is adequate for this task. Rather we need to tease out functions at the strata of grammar, discourse semantics, and register, treating each as a layer of meaning, as Firth foresaw

 Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL, and in the field of linguistics generally, registers are functional varieties of language (not context).  In SFL, field is the ideational dimension of context (not language) — context is realised by language.

Registers are varying subpotentials of language that realise situation types (varying subpotentials of  cultural context).

Field refers to 'what is going on' — in the cultural context — when people are 'languaging': speaking, listening, writing and reading.  For example, it is 'what is going on', in terms of the culture, when you are reading this.

Axiology is the philosophical study of (mainly) two kinds of values: ethics and aesthetics.  The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902, and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.  [Cf. judgement and appreciation in the interpersonal system of attitude in Appraisal Theory.]


[2] Firth didn't foresee register as a contextual stratum in SFL.  Firth was a first-rate thinker who valued intellectual rigour very highly.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

David Rose On Projection

How many projections?
Tony Abbott won't deny that Julie Bishop declined his request for a commitment not to challenge.



One but it projects an exchange, realised lexically in a single clause
Tony Abbott won't deny that
A1 Julie Bishop declined
A2 his request
A1 for a commitment
A1 not to challenge
Even the projecting ‘deny' implies a K2/K1 exchange

How to render as congruent grammar?

Blogger Comment:

The clause that Julie Bishop declined his request for a commitment not to challenge is not a ranking clause that is projected by the clause Tony Abbott won't deny.  Instead, as Bob Hong had already suggested, it is a pre-projected fact, and so is embedded as a constituent, Verbiage, in a clause simplex.  See analysis here.

Reasoning:

(a) The clause can be rendered as Tony Abbott won't deny the fact that Julie Bishop declined his request for a commitment not to challenge.

(b) The clause that Julie Bishop declined his request for a commitment not to challenge is not projected into semiotic existence by the clause Tony Abbott won't deny.

For the projection distinction between hypotaxis and embedding, see here.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

David Rose On 'Systemic Intonation Work'

On November 10 2014, Gerard O'Grady wrote to the sysfling list:
I'm looking for references for systemic intonation work on languages other than English. Please note I am not looking for references on intonation on languages other than English in other frameworks.


I believe a key work is... Cléirigh, C. 1998. The Genesis Of Phonic Texture. Ph.D. Thesis. Sydney University

Blogger Comment:

 The thesis contains no investigation of the intonation of any language in any framework.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Beatriz Quiroz On Notational Conventions And The Rank Scale

Beatriz Quiroz wrote on 5 November 2014 to sys-func:
I think another issue adding to the confusion in relation to theoretical vs descriptive categories in SFL is the rather loose use of notational conventions for descriptive categories. While (type of) processes (material, relational, etc.) refer to experiencial classes of clause (and they are thus expected to be written in lowercase), labels such as Actor, Process, Phenomenon (or more generic Participant, Circumstance) are elements in functional configurations of structure (and they should be written with initial uppercase). Too often in English descriptions and SFL literature such conventions are overriden, causing serious misundertandings. […]

Of course, the discussion on theoretical categories such a as class, rank, function and structure leads us in turn to the question of whether the theoretical notion of rank-scale and its general bias towards constituency relations (at least in most SFL English descriptions) is indeed productive when looking at languages other than English. There is also very little discussion in SFL on this issue, although Fawcett 2000a, 2000b, 2000c does challenge the idea of a rank scale in English accounts (from the point of view of the Cardiff model), and Martin 1996 deconstructs the constituency bias in relation to the theoretical notion of structure (inspired by Halliday, 1979).

Blogger Comments:

[1] The notational convention in SFL is to use lower case for the terms 'participant' and 'circumstance', since these are classes to which elements of function structure (Actor, Location etc.) belong.

[2] The rank scale isn't "biased" towards constituency; it is a theoretical means of construing language in terms of constituency — but one that goes beyond mere constituency, since it builds the function-form relation into the hierarchy, with function structures of a higher rank realised by syntagms at the lower rank.  That is, the rank scale embodies not just composition, a type of extension, but also elaboration (and symbolic identity) through the realisation (intensive identifying) relation between ranks.

As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 146) make clear:
… in systemic-functional work, elaborating interpretations tend to be taken further than in many other approaches: this means emphasising realisation, delicacy and identities across metafunctions to supplement the traditional emphasis on constituency and composition.
The theoretical utility of the rank scale includes not only modelling the compositional relation from clause to morpheme, but also, for example, distinguishing embedding from taxis, and, most importantly, the unpacking of grammatical metaphor.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Mick O'Donnell On Transitivity Criteria


Mick O'Donnell wrote on 31 October 2014 to sysfling:
It all comes down to which criteria you put as primary in defining process types: the notional or the grammatical. You [David Banks] are saying meaning is first (processes of communication) and grammar (projection) second. 
Others put grammar first, dealing with verbs which project on one side, then splitting these into verbal and mental subsets. 
I argue elsewhere that the lack of clarity as to the priority between the notional and grammatical criteria is the reason behind much of the different classification decisions made within our community.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Transitivity criteria do not boil down to the opposition between 'notional' and 'grammatical'; the relevant theoretical dimension is stratification.  As already clarified here — where O'Donnell advocates following the 'grammatical principles that Halliday established' — SFL was theorised by taking a trinocular perspective, which means also looking at the grammar 'from above' (what meaning is being realised) and 'from below' (how the wording is realised) — as well as 'from roundabout' (the level of grammar). As Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 31) make clear:
We cannot expect to understand the grammar just by looking at it from its own level; we also look into it ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, taking a trinocular perspective. But since the view from these different angles is often conflicting, the description will inevitably be a form of compromise
[2] A functional grammar gives priority to the 'view from above' — that's what makes it functional rather than formal, since function (Value) is realised by form (Token).  As Halliday & Matthiessen (ibid.) clarify:
Being a ‘functional grammar’ means that priority is given to the view ‘from above’; that is, grammar is seen as a resource for making meaning — it is a ‘semanticky’ kind of grammar. But the focus of attention is still on the grammar itself.

The motivation for this priority is explained by Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 6) as follows:
But to show that a grammar is a theory of experience we use a functional, semantically motivated grammatics, since this allows us to seek explanations of the form of the grammar in terms of the functions to which language is adapted. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

David Rose Confusing Rank With Delicacy And Realisation With Instantiation


David Rose wrote at 01:14 on 31/10/14 to the sys-func and sysfling email lists:
1. Isn't part of the notional problem a confusion of word rank lexical items with clause rank grammatical functions? E.g. a quoting verbal/mental process may be instantiated by a verb denoting behaviour, but does that make the clause a behavioural process? 
Is this a classification of lexical verbs or of clause rank process types? What does this mean for the "lexis = delicate grammar" hypothesis? 
2. What is the epistemological value of the behavioural process category? Some posts such as Yaegan's point to the value for students of distinguishing 'blurred' categories in text analysis, although Mick points to the cost in pedagogic labour. Other posts suggest its value for negotiating authority in the field, by defining the criteria for the category (or its absence). Is part of its value a relatively safe theoretical cul de sac for a good SFL argument?

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL terms, Rose's nominal group 'word rank lexical items' confuses two distinct theoretical dimensions: the rank scale and delicacy.  This is because it conflates the grammatical (word rank) with the lexical (lexical item).  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568):
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical [lexical item] and one grammatical [word rank].
[2] The relation between a clause rank Process and a word rank verb is realisation (via group rank), not instantiation.  Higher rank functions are realised by lower rank forms.  Instantiation is the relation between the system as potential and a specimen of the system in an actual text.

[3] Deploying Functional Grammar (Martin, Matthiessen & Painter 2010) advises treating such quoting clauses as behavioural, despite the grammatical reactances; see discussion here.

[4] Epistemology is branch of philosophy that studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppositions and foundations, and its extent and validity.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Tom Bartlett On Material Processes

Michael O'Donnell wrote at 00:07 on 31/10/14 to sysfling:
Tom: my hand hit the cat" which I use in class as the prototypical material process but which surely needs at the very least an animate (and probably sensate) Actor??? 
Mick: And in "the shit hit the fan", are you implying sensateness of the Actor?

And Tom Bartlett replied at 00:11 on 31/10/14 to sysfling:
No, Mick, that's why I contrasted "I hit the cat" with "my hand hit the cat"! 
The first does not mean "came into contact with" but something more animate/sensate; the second one does mean come into contact with, as with the shit hitting the fan.  
It's "I hit the cat" that I use as prototypically material but which would fail the animation test.


Blogger Comments:

 [1] Bartlett's claim is that the material process in I hit the cat does not mean came into contact with.  This claim can be tested by a dictionary definition of 'hit':
hit. verb. bring one's hand or a tool or weapon into contact with (someone or something) quickly and forcefully.
"Marius hit him in the mouth"
[2] Bartlett's claim is that the process in I hit the cat means "something more animate/sensate" (rather than 'came into contact').  While both participants in the clause are animate beings, the process is as material as they get, and material clauses are not restricted to participants endowed with consciousness (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 135).

It may be that Bartlett is here attempting to apply the traditional intransitive distinction of action/event to transitive clauses.  This is the distinction between an intentional act by an animate (typically human) being (John ran) and the unintentional action or inanimate event (John fell; rain fell) (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 148).

[3] Despite saying in a previous post (quoted by O'Donnell) that he uses the clause my hand hit the cat to exemplify "the prototypical material process", here Bartlett says it is actually the clause I hit the cat that he uses for this purpose.  He also says this clause "would fail the animation test" despite claiming that it "does not mean 'came into contact with' but something more animate/sensate".

Even if Bartlett had written the alternate clause in the final paragraph, the argument would still amount to nonsense, relying as it does on the untenable — to put it mildly — claim that the process 'hit' in I hit the cat does not mean came into contact with.