Saturday, 30 July 2016

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
United States
United Kingdom

Friday, 22 July 2016

John Bateman On The Need For Inter-Rater Reliability In SFL Research

Low interrater reliability scores can be indicative of several things: most of which relate to problems that should be considered. One cause of low reliability would be that the coders don't fully understand, or agree on, the way categories should be applied; another cause is that the categories are intrinsically poorly defined, and so agreement is unlikely.
Thus, when categories are meant to be applicable according to some theory (e.g., SFL), checking whether coders can actually apply the categories is not a bad step. The paper:
O'Donnell, M.; Zappavigna, M. & Whitelaw, C. (2008) 'A survey of process type classification over difficult cases'
Jones, C. & Ventola, E. (Eds.) From Language to Multimodality: new developments in the study of ideational meaning, Equinox Publishing Ltd., 47-64.
provides some sobering data on how reliably some categories in transitivity are being applied.
I too would recommend the O'Donnell et al paper. And another paper that is relevant is
Laura Gwilliams and Lise Fontaine. 2015. Indeterminacy in process type classification. Functional Linguistics, 2:8, pages 1-19.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Lack of theoretical understanding is clearly the major reason why Systemic Functional linguists disagree on analyses, as demonstrated by any public discussion — e.g. Sysfling, Sysfunc, Systemic Functional Linguistics Interest Group in which instances are analysed.

[2] To be clear, it is not so much that "categories are intrinsically poorly defined" but that, on SFL model, language itself is said to be an indeterminate system.  For the types of indeterminacy, and the reasons for it, see the views of Halliday & Matthiessen here.

[3] Neither of these papers includes, in its experimental design, the most fundamental principle of grammatical analysis: taking a trinocular perspective.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
A stratified semiotic defines three perspectives, which (following the most familiar metaphor) we refer to as ‘from above’, ‘from roundabout’, and ‘from below’: looking at a given stratum from above means treating it as the expression of some content, looking at it from below means treating it as the content of some expression, while looking at it from roundabout means treating it in the context of (i.e. in relation to other features of) its own stratum.
Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 31):
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.
In contrast, O'Donnell et al. (2008: 63) demonstrate no knowledge of this fundamental principle, framing the problem in terms of a lack of explicit coding criteria:
Both our analysis of individual clauses (Section 3) and of the grouping of coders (Section 4) show that the divide between using conceptual vs. syntactic criteria is widespread throughout the community as a whole, and each individual chooses which path they follow. This is, we believe, the result of the lack of explicit coding criteria in general, and argue that what the community needs is explicitly stated sets of criteria for coding practices, and perhaps distinct criteria descriptions for particular applications.
Gwilliams & Fontaine (2015: 17) are similarly oblivious, recommending a more 'delicate' two level grammatical analysis — one semantic, one syntactic:
Although the motivation for a single-level analysis of experiential meaning is desirable, it does not appear that a one-dimensional classification is always sufficient to account for both syntactic and semantic realisation. If a representative analysis is to be maintained within the SFL framework, it appears that a more delicate analysis of the experiential meta-function is required, in order to provide the individual with all the relevant tools to conduct a fully representative analysis. Specifically the option to annotate syntactic and semantic interpretations separately would alleviate problems associated with the lack of correspondence between these levels.
Lack of theoretical understanding is the pervasive problem in the SFL community, whether it be in analysing language, or in analysing analyses of language — or, indeed, in workbooks designed to teach the theory (evidence here and here).

Inter-rater reliability is merely a statistical measure of the degree of agreement among raters.  In a community where lack of theoretical understanding is demonstrably widespread, at all levels, agreement is not a measure of theoretical competence.

For a humorous angle on the distinction between interpersonal agreement and experiential consistency, see here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

David Rose Misrepresenting Michæl Halliday

Discourse patterns as low-lying fruit is good metaphor (if we invert stratal model). Grammar is further out of reach, demanding more semiotic labour to learn and apply to text analysis. Halliday’s view…
…lexical meaning is located much nearer the surface of language… Grammar is much more hidden from view (Halliday 2008:75). 
…the patterns we treat as grammatical are those which are buried much deeper below the level of people's consciousness… Lexical patterns are nearer the surface of consciousness (Halliday 2003:120).

Blogger Comment:

Here Rose misleads by strategically misrepresenting the view of Halliday.  The Halliday quotes do not refer to the "lexical" relations of Martin's discourse semantics.  For Halliday, the lexical vs grammatical distinction is one of delicacy, not stratification.

Monday, 4 July 2016

David Rose Analysing A Text "We Don't Understand"

Fantastic effort to combine grammar and discourse, to analyse genre and field. Critical focus is on lexical, conjunction and reference items, for which answer 1 is great text to analyse. You could go a little further and simplify. Here with lexical items in yellow and conjunction, reference, appraisal items in blue.

S1. A system call is a request made by a process to the operating system in order to perform tasks only the operating system can complete
Retrieving a file from a disk, or retrieving/displaying inputs/outputs, are examples of this
nuclear relations, activity sequence and conjunction - what’s going on
line 1 defines system call as type of request from process to operating system
line 2 explains what operating system does then (in order to, only)
line 3 exemplifies types of tasks requested by system call (examples of this)

(nuclear relations are lexical relations within clauses, configured by grammar)

taxonomic relations - why it makes sense
line 1 system call is a type of call, call and request are synonyms, process is technical part of computing field,
lines 1-2 operating and perform tasks are synonymous, operating system is repeated, complete is part of task
lines 2-3 retrieving/displaying are types of task, file/disk/inputs/outputs are parts of operating system

Blogger Comments:

[1] The "fantastic effort" that Rose applauds misconstrues these two clauses of a student's exam answer as attributive rather than identifying.  See clause analysis here.

As the clause analysis shows — but which Rose's discourse semantic analysis doesn't — in the first clause, the student decodes a system call and, in the second clause, the student then encodes examples of this.

[2] To be clear, in Martin's discourse semantics:
  • 'nuclear relations' are expansion relations — mostly misapplied — between experiential elements of clause and group structure;
  • 'activity sequence' is misconstrued as an aspect of field, not discourse semantics;
  • 'conjunction' is the logical system of discourse semantics — which confuses structural (logical) deployments of expansion with cohesive (textual) deployments;
  • 'what's going on' could be either field ('activity sequence') or genre ('social process').

[3] This is only part of the definition, as the grammatical analysis makes clear.  Rose's analysis makes no use of any of the discourse semantic resources: nuclear relations, activity sequence or conjunction.

[4] This part of the definition construes purpose, not time.  Here Rose has applied the discourse semantic resource of conjunction to an embedded clause complex, but misidentified the expansion relation.

[5] As the clause analysis shows, this clause encodes examples of a system call.  In the absence of a clause analysis, Rose misconstrues the meaning realised by the clause, as evinced by his "tasks requested by a system call"; cf. 'a system call is a request made by a process…'.  Again, Rose's analysis makes no use of any of the discourse semantic resources: nuclear relations, activity sequence or conjunction.

[6] Martin's nuclear relations (1992: 309-21) are not lexical relations, but (misapplied) expansion relations between elements of the experiential function structure of clauses (Process, Medium, Range, circumstance), nominal groups (Thing, Classifier, Epithet, Qualifier) and verbal groups (Event, Particle, Quality).  Rose has used none of these relations in his analysis.

[7] As demonstrated here, Martin's experiential discourse semantic system, termed ideation, is a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar and expansion relations between elements of function structures (logical metafuction).  The taxonomic relations Rose refers to here is the 'lexical cohesion' component.  That is, these relations help to make the text cohesive.

[8] This is not a taxonomic relation in the text — despite the use of 'part' to suggest meronymy.

[9] The suggestion here is that there is a meronymic relation between 'complete' (part) and 'task' (whole).  This can be examined through the lens of expansion relations.  If 'complete' is regarded as a phase of a process, then the type of expansion is elaboration (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 569ff), whereas a meronymic relation is one of extension (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 89).  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 91) provide a different argument:
We can certainly recognise that processes have phases — 'begin to do, keep doing, stop doing'; but it is not immediately clear that these form a process meronymy analogous to the parts of a participant. Although we might reconstrue he began to dance metaphorically as the beginning of his dance on the model of 'the beginning of the book', this is a metaphorical reification of the process 'dance' and we have to be cautious in interpreting the implications for the congruent process 'dance'. If we probe a little further, we can see that process phase is concerned with the occurrence of a process in time — its temporal unfolding: 'begin to do' means 'begin to be actualised (to occur) as doing in time'. In contrast, participant meronymy is not tied to the existence of a participant in referential space.


Despite claiming to provide a discourse semantic analysis of these clauses, Rose makes no use of the system of nuclear relations (discourse semantic ideation) or activity sequences (Martin's register: field), and the one use he makes of discourse semantic conjunction, he gets wrong.  Further, in his use of Martin's lexical relations (discourse semantic ideation) — a relabelling of Halliday's lexical cohesion — he misrepresents meronymic relations.  Moreover, there was no analysis of appraisal, genre or field.

Most importantly, the fact that the student provided two identifying clauses, with the first decoding a technical term, and the second encoding examples, was not recognised.

Given all of the above, it is fair to say that the aim of the exercise was not pedagogy.


Friday, 1 July 2016

David Rose Promoting Jim Martin's Ideation

To interpret relations between a technical field and its realisation as text, the challenge for linguists, as ever, is to escape the limits of grammar. Fields are realised as patterns of ideation - taxonomic relations, nuclear relations and activity sequences, organised in hierarchies of periodicity.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This blurs the distinction between stratification and instantiation.  In terms of stratification, field, the ideational dimension of context, is realised in semantics.  In terms of instantiation, text is an instance of potential.  As an instance of potential, a text realises an instance of context, namely: a context of situation.

[2] This is merely an unsolicited plug for Martin's discourse semantics.  (For a very thorough critique of this theory, see here.)  The misunderstanding here is stratificational.  Grammar and semantics are two levels of symbolic abstraction, two angles on the same phenomenon, namely: the content plane of language.  As Halliday points out, the semantics that language has is only made possible by the grammar.  The grammar doesn't just realise the semantics, it construes it.

[3] This again blurs the distinction between stratification (realisation) and instantiation (patterns).  Field is realised by semantics (stratification), system is realised by structure (axis), on each stratum.  Patterns are formed by the selection of features during the instantiation process, whereby systemic potential is actualised as text during logogenesis.

[4] As the critiques on Discourse Semantic Theory demonstrate, Martin's experiential discourse semantic system of ideation is a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar (delicacy) and logical relations between elements of clause structure (mostly misapplied).  Of his model, Martin (1992: 325) writes:
The level of discourse semantics is the least differentiated as far as ideational meaning is concerned. This is mainly due to the fact that the description developed here has focussed on relationships between experiential meanings, rather than the experiential meanings themselves.
[5] This is even inconsistent with Martin's model.  Martin (1992: 321ff, 517) regards activity sequences as an aspect of field, not ideation (experiential discourse semantics).  See a brief critique here, or other arguments critiquing this chapter at Discourse Semantic Theory.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Shooshi Dreyfus On The Transitivity Of 'Live'

In response to the following query on the Systemic Functional Linguistics Interest Group:
What kind of process is 'live' in the following sentence - We live in the same city. Is it relational??? Identifying circumstantial?
Not relational and there's conjecture whether it's material or behavioural. If you are a strict Hallidayan, it might be behavioural as only sensate beings can do behavioural processes whereas anything, sensate or non-sensate can do material processes. However, as a Martinian, behavioural clauses are those that seem like verbal and mental but can't project. Definitely NOT relational as relational relates one participant to another.
and on 23 June 2016:
[In the] example 'he is in the kitchen', 'in the kitchen' is not functioning as a circumstance in this instance, it's functioning as an Attribute. Circumstantial meanings are incredibly versatile and can move around the clause mapping onto all kinds of constituents … . And from above, living is NOT being. Though we could probably argue about that till the cows come home, … And I recall Fran Christie telling me that Michael Halliday told her that living and dying are material.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The clause we live in the same city is an intensive attributive relational clause — as opposed to material — on several grounds.

Viewed from above, it means 'we are in the same city' rather than 'we do in the same city'.  That is, in terms of the complementary perspectives of being-&-having and doing-&-happening, the construal is one of being.

Viewed from roundabout, the unmarked present tense is simple not the present-in-present, so relational not material.  If it were material, the simple present tense would be marked because it would carry the added feature 'habitual'.

A 'behavioural' interpretation is ruled out by the definition of behavioural processes as physiological and psychological processes as behaviours.  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.
[2] To be 'a strict Hallidayan' is merely to understand and apply the theory that is the brainchild of Halliday;  Cf 'a strict Einsteinian'.

synonyms: precise, exact, faithful, true, accurate, unerring, scrupulous, careful, meticulous, rigorous
antonyms: imprecise, loose

[3] This is not a criterion for distinguishing behavioural processes from material and relational processes.  Conscious beings can participate in all process types.

[4] In matters of grammar, Martin purports to be following Halliday — e.g. Martin, Matthiessen & Painter (2010: i) — and so, any differences are misunderstandings, rather than competing interpretations. The treatment of behavioural processes in this work, Deploying Functional Grammar, is particularly confused, as demonstrated here.  Moreover, contrary to Dreyfus' claim, Martin et al. (2010: 124) analyse some projecting clauses as behavioural.

[5] This is misleading in two ways.  On the one hand, there are relational clauses with only one participant (Carrier).  This occurs when a quality is construed as a qualitative Process (it matters) rather than as a qualitative Attribute (it is important); see Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 222).

On the other hand, the prepositional phrases in the same city and in the kitchen serve as circumstantial Attributes; see Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 240-1).

With regard to the participanthood of Attribute, Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 123) write:
… the Attribute cannot be mapped onto the interpersonal rôle of Subject.  This is because only participants in the clause can take modal responsibility, and the Attribute is only marginally, if at all, a participant.
[6] Hearsay is not argument, and in this case, it demonstrably misrepresents Halliday's view.  The function of a verb (verbal group) depends on the clause in which it figures.  The verb 'live' can serve as a material Process (he lives life to the max), as a relational Process (he lives in Japan), and as an existential Process (Elvis lives).

Saturday, 20 February 2016

David Rose Promoting Jim Martin's Misconstrual Of Context As Register (inter alia)

After Shooshi Dreyfus posted the following analysis to sysfling and sys-func on 19 February 2016 at 11:12 in which she asked about the final prepositional phrase:
an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels
Process: attributive
and Jing Fang offered the following analysis on sys-func at 11:55:
to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels

This is a great example of complementarity of grammar and discourse semantics in construing register
In field, ‘metal' and 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels' are construed as members of a more general class (of what I have no idea). This classification is construed in discourse semantics by relating these lexical items as co-hyponyms. This relation is construed in the grammar 1) at clause rank by configuring ‘metal' as Carrier and the relation itself as a classifying Attribute ‘an alternative’ 2) at group rank by embedding 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ as a Qualifier of ‘an alternative’.
In tenor, the usage of metal is explicitly negatively appreciated as ‘often-overlooked’, and this appraisal is configured in grammar as an Epithet of ‘an alternative’. This is why the relation is configured as Thing, so it can be evaluated non-negotiably with an Epithet. Secondly, 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ are positively appreciated as ‘energy-dense’, again configured as Epithet (perhaps explaining why they are preferred to metal). 
In mode, the textual function of all this metaphorical re-construal is to present ‘metal’ as the topic and ‘often-overlooked alternative’ as the point the writer is making.
We could also interpret the field implications of the lexical item ‘often-overlooked’, and of configuring 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ as a Location.

nice analysis.

Blogger Comments:

[1] By 'register' here, Rose means the SFL stratum of context (field, tenor and mode).  That is, he follows Martin in confusing the culture as a semiotic system (context) with a functional variety of language (register).  Martin's misunderstandings of register are explained here and his misunderstandings of context are explained here.  The misunderstanding is largely a confusion of stratification (context is more symbolically abstract that language) with instantiation (register is a subpotential of language).

[2] Here Rose confuses the ideational dimension of the context of situation (field) — which he misconstrues as register — with the ideational content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[3] Here Rose demonstrates that he doesn't understand the text, and that his analytical method provides him with no assistance.  In the lexicogrammar, on an attributive reading of the clause metals are construed as members of the class an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels

For the reason pointed out by Tom Bartlett, the clause can also be read as identifying. On an identifying reading, metals are identified as (an example of) an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.

[4] In SFL theory, hyponymic relations are modelled as lexical cohesion, which along with grammatical cohesion, is a non-structural resource of the textual metafunction.  As the words 'lexical' and 'grammatical' imply, cohesion is a system located on the lexicogrammatical stratum.  The model Rose is promoting here is Martin's experiential discourse semantic system, (inconsistently) named ideation.  As demonstrated here, this model of experiential semantics is mainly a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar, and logical relations between elements of clause structure, mostly misapplied.

[5] At clause rank in the grammar, the relation is realised, appropriately enough, by the relational process.  On the attributive reading, a relation of intensive attribution obtains between the Carrier metals and the Attribute an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  On the identifying reading, a relation of intensive identity obtains between the Identified Token metals and the Identifier Value an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  On both readings, the logical relation between the participants, as realised by the Process, is one of elaboration.

[6] At group rank in the grammar, the Thing alternative is qualified by to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  Semantically, alternative is itself a quality of extension (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 211), as Jing Fang (more or less) pointed out.

[7] Here Rose confuses the interpersonal dimension of the context of situation (tenor) — which he misconstrues as register — with the interpersonal content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[8] Here Rose mistakes a Classifier for an Epithet.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 320):
Classifiers do not accept degrees of comparison or intensity … and they tend to be organised in mutually exclusive and exhaustive sets …
[9] Here Rose confuses the textual dimension of the context of situation (mode) — which he misconstrues as register — with the textual content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[10] Here Rose relocates Martin's discourse semantic system of 'point' into the context of situation (mode) — which he misconstrues as register.  In SFL theory, the issue here is one of information distribution.  The lexical density of the Complement suggests that the clause is likely to be co-extensive with (at least) two information units, with the first focus of New information on alternative and another on solar fuels.

[11] Here Rose misconstrues the Qualifier to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels as a Location, presumably on the basis of the minor Process to.  On the other hand, the field implications of the "lexical item" ‘often-overlooked’ may forever remain a mystery, at least to this reader of the single-clause text.

For the benefit of those who don't understand what goes on in the Sydney SFL community — which appears to be most of the people in it — normally Rose uses any grammar question on the email lists as an excuse to promote Martin's discourse semantics.  However, here he is using a grammar question as an excuse to promote Martin's "register".

The reason for Rose's switch to promoting Martin's "register", on this occasion, is in order to help endorse Martin's claim, made two days before, at the symposium to honour the late Ruqaiya Hasan, that the model she used is flawed and that, therefore, everyone should be using his model instead. A recording of the session in which Martin misrepresented the deceased can be heard here.

Friday, 12 February 2016

David Rose Following Jim Martin In Confusing Description (Instance) With Theory (Potential)

Responding to a post by Annabelle Lukin, David Rose wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 11 February 2016 at 07:24:
Great point 
The theory is SFL 
Appraisal is an SFL description, alongside other discourse semantic systems 
The description of appraisal filled a void that is not accounted for in grammar, so lots of people have adopted it without recognising other discourse semantic systems, hence ‘appraisal theory’
We don’t talk about ‘transitivity theory’. Many imagine that transitivity is sufficient to account for experiential meaning, that tabulating process types describes what a text means. They can't see the void.

Blogger Comments:

Given Martin's dichotomy of theory versus description, the systems of appraisal are not description; they are part of SFL linguistic theory.  Description is what theory affords. Theory provides the potential for describing (construing) phenomena — in its terms.  

The distinction is one of instantiation.  Just as texts are linguistic instances of linguistic potential, descriptions of language are metalinguistic instances of metalinguistic potential.  Linguistic theories like appraisal are metalinguistic potential: the potential for 'languaging' about language, texts about texts.

Moreover, it is the system networks that constitute the (metalinguistic) hypotheses, generated by the theoretical assumptions, to be tested against data descriptions (metalinguistic instances).  See Butt (2000) on the system network as a form of argumentation.

In any case, the term 'appraisal theory' originates from Martin and White (2005: xi, 6, 29) — in which publication can also be found the term 'register and genre theory' (p24).

[2] In SFL theory, linguistic content is viewed from two perspectives: two levels of symbolic abstraction.  The higher level is meaning (semantics), the lower level is wording (lexicogrammar).  In the absence of grammatical metaphor, the two perspectives are in agreement (congruent).  This stratification means that systems of linguistic content can be viewed from either perspective.  Halliday (2008: 49) provides the view of appraisal from the perspective of lexicogrammar:
Some interpersonal meanings are highly generalised, like the enactment of dialogic rôles (speech function) … .  With options in the way something is evaluated (“I approve / I disapprove”), or contended (“I agree / I disagree”), the borderline between grammar and lexis is shaded over; systems of appraisal, as described by Martin & White (2005), represent more delicate (more highly differentiated) options within the general region of evaluation.
On the appraisal system of attitude, Halliday (2008: 179) writes:
This is a grammatical system that is realised by a selection of lexical items. Each such item is uniquely identified as a set of intersecting grammatical features; eg complicated is
appraisal: attitude: appreciation: composition: ( complexity : complex /  polarity: negative …)
as well as other general grammatical features (e.g. as distinct from confusing, which is “effective”, as in it confuses mecomplicated is “descriptive”).  Note that I am interpreting the feature "undesirable" (the "snarl" member of the "purr/snarl" opposition) as negative in the environment of the interpersonal.
But it is important to understand that it is the lexicogrammar that makes the type of semantics that language has possible — as demonstrated by the limitations of semiotic systems without stratified content.  As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512) put it, it is the grammar that construes 'semantic space': 
In all these metafunctions, the language does not take over and reproduce some readymade semantic space. There is no such space until the grammar comes along to construe it.
[3] This is misleading.  See the two Halliday (2008) quotes above in [2] or at The Thought Occurs.

[4] Reasons for 'adopting' appraisal theory include the facts that it is very easy to use with very little linguistic knowledge — it can stand independently of SFL, let alone discourse semantics — and that it pays huge dividends for very little investment, as exemplified here.

[5] This is the motivation for misrepresenting appraisal as description rather than theory: its use without the recognition of its inclusion within discourse semantic systems.  For critiques of discourse semantic systems, see here.

[6] The systems of 'transitivity', within the grammatics, are part of SFL theory.  They are metalinguistic potential.  See [1].  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514) are quite clear on the matter:
This part of the grammar, then — the grammar of clauses — , constitutes a theory about the types of process that make up human experience.

[7] This is the logical fallacy known as the straw man fallacy — an argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent.

It also exemplifies the form of argument termed 'polemic' (which Jim Martin warned us about on the sysfling list on 8/1/16, by means of a quote from Foucault).
polemic is a contentious argument that is intended to support a specific position via attacks on a contrary position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist or a polemic. The word is derived from Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning "warlike, hostile", from πόλεμος (polemos), meaning "war". 
Along with debate, polemics are one of the most common forms of arguing. Similar to debate, a polemic is confined to a definite thesis. But unlike debate, which may allow for common ground between the two disputants, a polemic is intended only to affirm one point of view while refuting the opposing point of view.
See Foucault's polemic against polemics here.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

David Rose Promoting Misunderstandings Of SFL Theory

It seems to me that transitivity and ideation (lexical relations) are complementary resources for realising register. They make different kinds of generalisations about experience that both need to be captured in text analysis to interpret what it’s saying. Ideational metaphor is a particular type that makes this complementarity obvious. What’s more, neither transitivity nor ideation define lexical items, just relations between them. Recognising the relations depends on intuitive recognition of the lexical items that instantiate them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] By 'ideation', Rose means the experiential discourse semantic system in Martin (1992); see the many critiques here.  By 'register' Rose means the misconstrual of context as register in Martin (1992); see the many critiques here.

[2] As the critiques on Discourse Semantic Theory demonstrate, Martin's experiential discourse semantic system of ideation is a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar (delicacy) and logical relations between elements of clause structure (mostly misapplied).  As the critiques also demonstrate, Martin's model also misconstrues some ideational semantics as field.

On his model, Martin (1992: 325) writes:
The level of discourse semantics is the least differentiated as far as ideational meaning is concerned. This is mainly due to the fact that the description developed here has focussed on relationships between experiential meanings, rather than the experiential meanings themselves.

[3] Martin (1992) misunderstands and misrecognises grammatical metaphor, interpreting it largely in terms of the transcategorisation of elements through nominalisation.  Evidence here.  Moreover, the discourse semantic systems of ideation (experiential) and conjunction (logical) don't provide the means of determining congruent realisations from metaphorical realisations of the semantics in the grammar.  The system of conjunction is a confusion of textual (non-structural cohesion) and logical (structural) deployments of expansion relations, and largely misinterprets the expansion categories.  Evidence here.

[4] In SFL theory, lexical items are the synthetic output of the most delicate grammar.  That is, they are the output of increasingly more delicate subcategorisations of grammatical systems, such as process type and the rest.  A phonological analogue of this is the phoneme /p/ being the synthetic output of features from the systems of phonation, place, manner: [voiceless], [bilabial], [stop].

[5] This misunderstanding arises from the confusion in Martin's (1992) experiential discourse system of ideation between lexical cohesive relations (hyponymy etc.) and lexis as most delicate grammar, both subsumed there under 'lexical relations'.

[6] This misunderstands the architecture of SFL theory.  Defining is an identifying relation.  Identifying relations obtain between different levels of abstraction, such between strata or between system and structure.  On the other hand, the dimension of delicacy is structured by the attributive relation: i.e. class membership; more delicate features are members (carriers) of less delicate classes (attributes).  Lexical items are the output of attributive relations, and the question of identifying (defining) relations is irrelevant.

[7] The claim here is that recognising the relations between lexical items depends on intuitive recognition of the lexical items that "instantiate" the relations between lexical items.

Again, this misunderstanding arises from the confusion in Martin's (1992) experiential discourse system of ideation between lexical cohesive relations and lexis as most delicate grammar.  The relations of lexical cohesion — such as hyponymy, meronymy, synonymy and repetition — are mistaken for systemic relations between lexical items as the output of the most delicate grammatical systems.

Note, also, the illogicality of the claim that lexical items instantiate the relations between lexical items.

For Rose's misunderstanding and misuse of the notion of instantiation, see here.