Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Context Vs Cotext

Halliday (2007 [1991]: 271):
Originally, the context meant the accompanying text, the wording that came before and after whatever was under attention. In the nineteenth century it was extended to things other than language, both concrete and abstract: the context of the building, the moral context of the day; but if you were talking about language, then it still referred to the surrounding words, and it was only in modern linguistics that it came to refer to the non-verbal environment in which language was used. When that had happened, it was Catford, I think, who suggested that we now needed another term to refer explicitly to the verbal environment; and he proposed the term “co-text”.
For the difference between material setting, context and co-text, click here.
For material setting vs context see here.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Context Of Situation Vs Setting

Halliday (2007 [1991]: 278):
The setting, on the other hand, is the immediate material environment. This may be a direct manifestation of the context of situation, and so be integrated into it: if the situation is one of, say, medical care, involving a doctor and one or more patients, then the setting of hospital or clinic is a relevant part of the picture. But even there the setting does not constitute the context of situation …

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Martin’s Cline Of Instantiation Applied To Martin’s Stratification

Martin's stratification
genre, register, discourse semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology

Martin's cline of instantiation
system, genre/register, text type, text, reading.

On this model,

(1) genre is simultaneously more abstract than register (in terms of stratification), and a sub-potential of register (in terms of the latter stratum's instantiation) — which is logically incoherent;

(2) register is simultaneously more abstract than discourse semantics (in terms of stratification) and a sub-potential of discourse semantics (in terms of the latter stratum's instantiation) — which is logically incoherent;

(1) genre is simultaneously a stratal system and a sub-potential of itself (in terms of that stratum's instantiation) — which is logically incoherent;

(2) register is simultaneously a stratal system and a sub-potential of itself (in terms of that stratum's instantiation) — which is logically incoherent;

etc …

Friday, 28 March 2014

Process Types As "Spectrum"

System Networks Construe A Continuous Semiotic Space

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 173):
Like all system networks, this [PROCESS TYPE] network construes a continuous semiotic space.

Terms In Systems Are Fuzzy Categories

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 174n):
Systemic terms are not Aristotelian categories. Rather they are fuzzy categories; they can be thought of as representing fuzzy sets rather than ‘crisp’ ones …

Grammatical Labels Reflect Core Category Signification

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 199):
… grammatical labels are very rarely appropriate for all instances of a category — they are chosen to reflect its central or ‘core’ signification ( … ‘prototypes’ …). These core areas are the central region for each process type … and the non-core areas lie on the borders between the different process types, shading into one another as the colours of a colour spectrum.

The Principle Of Systemic Indeterminacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 173):
The world of our experience is highly indeterminate; and this is precisely how the grammar construes it in the system of process type. Thus, one and the same text may offer alternative models of what would appear to be the same domain of experience, construing for example the domain of emotion both as a process in a ‘mental’ clause … and as a participant in a ‘relational’ one …

Process Types: Spherical Ordering

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 171-2):
There is no priority of one kind of process over another. But they are ordered; and what is important is that, in our concrete visual metaphor, they form a circle and not a line. (More accurately still … a sphere … .) That is to say, our model of experience, as interpreted through the grammatical system of transitivity, is one of regions within a continuous space; but the continuity is not between two poles, it is round in a loop.

Process Types As Continuous Regions With Core & Peripheral Areas

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 172):
The regions have core areas and these represent prototypical members of the process types; but the regions are continuous, shading into one another, and these border areas represent the fact that the process types are fuzzy categories.

Behavioural, Verbal & Existential Process Types As Categories At Boundaries

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 171):
Material, mental and relational are the main types of process in the English transitivity system. But we also find further categories at the three boundaries; not so clearly set apart, but nevertheless recognisable in the grammar as intermediate between the different pairs — sharing some features of each, and thus acquiring a character of their own.

Behavioural Processes At The Borderline

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 171):
On the borderline between ‘material’ and ‘mental’ are the behavioural processes: those that represent the outer manifestations of inner workings, the acting out of processes of consciousness and physiological states.

Verbal Processes At The Borderline

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 171):
On the borderline between ‘mental’ and ‘relational’ are the verbal processes: symbolic relationships constructed in human consciousness and enacted in the form of language, like saying and meaning …

Existential Processes At The Borderline

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 171):
And on the borderline between the ‘relational’ and the ‘material’ are the processes concerned with existence, the existential, by which phenomena of all kinds are simply recognised to ‘be’ — to exist or to happen …

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Halliday & Matthiessen On Martin's Theme, Method Of Development And Field

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 407):
Thematic spaces in an ideational semantic network can be seen as a model of the systemic understanding of Theme and method of development articulated by Martin, where [Martin’s] “field” corresponds to what has been discussed here in terms of ideational semantic networks in the ideation base.

That is:

(1) Halliday & Matthiessen's thematic spaces in an ideational semantic network
corresponds to a systemic understanding of
Martin's Theme and method of development

(2) Halliday & Matthiessen's ideational semantics
corresponds to
Martin's field

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Halliday & Matthiessen On Martin's Transitivity

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504): 
As we have already noted, Martin, in his systemic treatment of processes in Tagalog, offers a different interpretation of nuclear transitivity: he defines it in terms of orientation, rather than configuration, and hence operates with a significantly different concept of participant function.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

How To Distinguish Complement And Adjunct


Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 122-3):
A Complement is an element within the Residue that has the potential of being Subject but is not; in other words, it is an element that has the potential for being given the interpersonally elevated status of modal responsibility — something that can be the nub of the argument.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 123):
An Adjunct is an element that has not got the potential of being Subject; that is, it cannot be elevated to the interpersonal status of modal responsibility.


(a) Consider the following clause:
Maureen gave David the book.
Q1. Can ‘David’ be raised to Subject?
A. Yes, as follows: David was given the book by Maureen.
Conclusion: ‘David’ is Complement.

Q2. Can ‘the book’ be raised to Subject?
A. Yes, as follows: The book was given to David by Maureen.
Conclusion: ‘the book’ is Complement.

(b) Consider the following clause:
Maureen gave the book to David.
Q1. Can ‘to David’ be raised to Subject?
A. No. *To David was given the book by Maureen.
Conclusion: ‘to David’ is Adjunct.

(c) Consider the following clause:
The book was given to David by Maureen.
Q1. Can ‘to David’ be raised to Subject?
A. No. *To David was given the book by Maureen.
Conclusion: ‘to David’ is Adjunct.

Q2. Can ‘by Maureen’ be raised to Subject?
A. No. *By Maureen gave the book to David.
Conclusion: ‘by Maureen’ is Adjunct.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Material Vs Semiotic Abstractions

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 190ff) provide a taxonomy of simple things based on the participant roles they play in semantic figures — critically those of Senser, Sayer and Actor.

The most general distinction is between conscious and non-conscious.
Within non-conscious, the distinction is between material and semiotic.
Within material, the distinctions are animal, object, substance and abstraction.
Within semiotic, the distinctions are institution, object and abstraction.

Material abstractions — eg depth, colours — typically play the roles of Phenomenon, Carrier and Value. They have no extension in space and are unbounded, and are typically some parameter of a material quality or process.

Semiotic abstractions — eg information, truth — are typically realised by the Range of mental and verbal processes. They are unbounded semiotic substance with no material existence.

There are also intermediate categories in this taxonomy. For example:

Human collectives — eg family — are intermediate between conscious beings and institutions.

Discrete semiotic abstractions — eg thoughts and fears (mental entities) and questions and orders (speech functions) — are intermediate between semiotic objects and non-discrete semiotic abstractions.