Friday, 20 October 2017

Pageviews by Countries

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
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Thursday, 19 October 2017

David Rose On Process Type Features


… Fourth, as Mick points out there are consistent (but also fuzzy) relations between the grammatical categories and domains of experience denoted by certain verbs (for example). I don’t think labels like behavioural, mental and so on are semantic. Rather they denote general fields of experience, beyond language. The grammar organises these fields, while lexical items are far more variable. 
A question I’m interested in is where do these relations come from? I mean our experience is so complex, fluid and variable. It seems a miracle that the grammar organises it as neatly as it does, despite the fuzz.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands the theory.  In SFL, the process type features are theorised as both semantic and lexicogrammatical.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
… we treat transitivity both within semantics (the paradigmatic and syntagmatic organisation of figures) and within lexicogrammar (the grammar of transitivity): it is a system construed within the content plane of language — both in the ideational component in the lexicogrammar and in the ideation base. This two-stratal approach to transitivity makes it possible to model the resource of grammatical metaphor and is fundamental to work on multilingual systems for generating text.
[2] On the one hand, this can be read as consistent with SFL theory, and so, as contradictory of Rose's previous statement.  On this reading, process type features, as ideational semantics do realise (Rose's 'denote') field, in the sense of 'field' as ideational context (the culture as semiotic system).  But this is not Rose's meaning here — as suggested by the contradiction — since Rose follows Martin's error in treating 'field' as a dimension of register.

On the other hand, this can be read as inconsistent with the epistemological assumptions on which SFL theory was developed.  On this reading, 'fields of experience beyond language' refers to the experience that is construed as ideational meaning.  On the SFL model, meaning is located within semiotic systems ("immanent"), rather than being transcendent of them.

In claiming that process type features denote (realise) 'fields of experience beyond language', Rose is (a) ascribing meaning to the domain outside semiotic systems, and (b) construing this domain as more abstract meaning than the meaning of language.  See also Philosophical Realism.

[3] On the one hand, this can be read as consistent with SFL theory if 'fields' is understood as the experience that is transformed into meaning, and if 'organises' is understood as 'construes as meaning'.  But this is not Rose's meaning here.  For Rose, 'fields' refers to (transcendent) meanings outside language, and it is the rôle of the grammar to organise them.

[4] This misunderstands the relation between grammar and lexis.  In SFL, lexical items are the synthesis of features of the most delicate systems of the lexicogrammar (just as phonemes are the synthesis of phonological features).

[5] This puzzlement arises from the epistemological inconsistencies identified above in [2] and [3].  The 'relations' arise as ideational meaning, construed of experience, in the logogenesis, ontogenesis and phylogenesis of meaning potential.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Tom Bartlett Misrepresenting IFG On Behavioural Processes

Tom Bartlett replied to Michael O'Donnell on Sysfling on 12 October 2017 at 19:48:
When we discuss concepts such as transitivity on the list there are three (at least) possible things we are doing … 
2. Suggesting the IFG analysis is wrong in its own terms - i.e. accepting the logic of IFG but suggesting this logic has been wrongly applied. This often happens when we discuss behaviourals as they now seem to be dotted about in various self-contradictory places in IFG itself.

Blogger Comments:

This is manifestly untrue and, unsurprisingly, Bartlett cites no evidence. Inconsistent interpretations of behavioural processes do, however, appear in works other than IFG, such as Deploying Functional Grammar (Martin et al 2010), as documented here. Bartlett may be confused by the misunderstandings of Banks, critiqued here.

The reason interpreters of IFG have such trouble with behavioural processes is that they are the least distinct of all the process types, as Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 248-50, 255) explain:
They are the least distinct of all the six process types because they have no clearly defined characteristics of their own; rather they are partly like the material and partly like the mental. … ‘behavioural’ process clauses are not so much a distinct type of process, but rather a cluster of small subtypes blending the material and the mental into a continuum …
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 136) suggest:
These can be interpreted as a subtype of material processes or as a borderline category between material and mental.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mick O'Donnell On The Number Of Process Types

 Michael O'Donnell wrote to Sysfling on 12 October 2017 at 19:20:
I think part of the problem here is the assumption that all clauses possible within the English language can be explained as belonging to one of 6 different grammatical categories: material, behavioural, mental, verbal, relational, existential. 
I do agree that the bulk of the clauses of the English language conform to basic prototypes within these categories. However, the English language has a long history, and occasionally we find examples which are structurally different from other sentences. "It matters" seems to be one of these. 
Remember, Halliday's process types are supposed to be grammatical categories, linked together not only by common semantics, but also by commonality of form
And I have always felt it strange that the "present tense" test has always been the primary (and often only) grammatical criterion given for classifying clauses. 
I also do not accept the criterion that "IFG says so" is a valid criteria, unless IFG contains reasoning to support the categorisation. 
Looking purely structurally, "It matters" is closer in form to:
Life evolved.
Something happened.
It appeared.
He abstained.
He apologised.
He breakfasted.
etc.
Looking through a list 2,700 verbs that cannot take a complement (intransitive verbs), they seem to fall into 2 main semantic patterns:
a) Those that explain happenings (material, no agent): evolve, happen, appear.
b) verbal activity with no verbiage nor addressee: abstain, apologise, snigger, yammer, soliloquize, snitch, compromise
...and maybe a set of (rare) items that do represent semantically a relation to another participant which can be specified via a "to" circumstance:
He mattered (to me)
It bonded (to the wall)
They conformed (to the regulations)
We could then shove such cases under relational, but then it seems our unstated but primary grammatical criteria is: All clauses can be categorised under one of the six named process types. ...even when the verbs at issue reflect substantially distinct structural patterns. That to me is the problem. We are b[e]ing too simplistic, trying to fit the language into a box which is too small for it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here O'Donnell offers the historical depth of the English language as support for his contention that the most general types of process — motivated by the data — number more than six.

[2] As O'Donnell makes clear, his approach to process types proceeds from the perspectives of structure and form.  Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, on the other hand, as the name implies, is theorised from the perspectives of system and function.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
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. 
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is one of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features.  Explaining something consists not of stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness (agnation).
By adopting a different perspective on the data, O'Donnell is unwittingly using a different theory to interpret the data, thereby yielding interpretations at odds with the original theory.

[3] Strictly speaking, Halliday's process types are both grammatical and semantic.  The two are in agreement (congruent) except in the case of grammatical metaphor.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
… we treat transitivity both within semantics (the paradigmatic and syntagmatic organisation of figures) and within lexicogrammar (the grammar of transitivity): it is a system construed within the content plane of language — both in the ideational component in the lexicogrammar and in the ideation base. This two-stratal approach to transitivity makes it possible to model the resource of grammatical metaphor and is fundamental to work on multilingual systems for generating text.
[4] Here O'Donnell maintains his steadfast ignorance of the trinocular perspective that Halliday used in theorising the grammar; see previous posts herehere, and especially here.  The theory of process types arises from looking at the grammar (1) from above (what meanings are being realised?), (2) from roundabout (what other systemic variants are possible?), and (3) from below (how are they realised?).

[5] This is a statement about the competence of the most intrusive list members, not about the criteria used by Halliday, as set out in IFG.  For example, Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 354):


[6] In citing IFG, an analyst is, of course, referring the reader to both the theoretical assumptions and the reasoning on which an analysis is based.

[7] Trivially, the clause it bonded (to the wall) is material, not relational, both on the basis of what it means (from above), and what would be the unmarked present tense (from roundabout).

[8] This risks a misunderstanding.  The six named process types are the most general categories only.  The total number of process types construed by the SFL approach is enormous, but won't be known until these most general types are elaborated into more and more delicate categories, to the point where each lexical item is specified.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 198):
… we can differentiate both processes and participants into finer and finer subcategories, until we reach a degree of differentiation that is associated with the choice of words (lexical items).

Monday, 18 September 2017

David Rose On Phases As Units At The Level Of Register

Criteria for interpreting story phases certainly need elaborating. We can say that neither grammar nor discourse semantics are reliable criteria. Phases are units at the level of register, so we need criteria from field and tenor, that may not be explicit in the text.



Blogger Comments:

[1] Given that 'story' is an instance type (genre) of language, "criteria for interpreting story phases" will include evidence from the content plane of language: semantics and lexicogrammar.  On the other hand, it is true that discourse semantics offers no reliable criteria, but this is because it is theorised on multiple misunderstandings of SFL theory and riddled with internal inconsistencies, as demonstrated in great detail here.

[2] Here Rose uncritically repeats Martin's (1992) theoretical error of mistaking varying language subpotentials (register) for context potential (field, tenor mode), and then complicates the confusion by attributing proposed phases of a text (semantics) to context misconstrued as register.

That is to say, in terms of the theoretical architecture, there are two dimensions of misunderstanding here: stratification and instantiation.  In terms of stratification, Rose confuses semantics with cultural context, while in terms of instantiation, Rose confuses system (potential) with subsystem variation (register).

Monday, 11 September 2017

Jim Martin On Appraisal Theory Not Being A Theory

Martin (2017: 22):
In late 2012 I was approached by a very concerned research student who reported that some people were saying ‘Appraisal Theory’ wasn’t a theory at all, but just a description. To which I replied: “Yes, of course. That’s right. Systemic Functional Linguistics (hereafter SFL) is the theory. APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English”.
[Martin (2017) The Discourse Semantics of Attitudinal Relations: Continuing the Study of Lexis, Russian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 21, No 1, 22-47]


Blogger Comments:

A. Martin's argument can be broken down to two exchanges:
An anonymous student's report of anonymous others: 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory…
Martin: Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory. 
An anonymous student's report of anonymous others: 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory…
Martin: APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English..
Notice firstly that 'cause: reason' is entirely absent, both explicitly and implicitly, from both exchanges.  That is, neither exchange constitutes a reasoned argument.

Notice secondly that there are no explicit logico-semantic relations between Martin's replies and the anonymous claim.  That is, the reader is left to supply the implicit logico-semantic relation in both exchanges.

Notice thirdly that the implicit logico-semantic relation, in both cases, is 'extension: variation: replacive' (not X but Y).  That is, in both exchanges, Martin merely replaces one assertion with another.

In short, Martin has merely pontificated an opinion, unsupported by reasoning, and has disguised the lack of reasoning by leaving the logico-semantic relations implicit.


B. More shortcomings become evident, if it is assumed, for the sake of argument, that the implicit logico-semantic relation in both cases is one of 'cause: reason'.  This can be demonstrated by making the causal relation both explicit and structural:
  1. 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory [because] Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory.
  2. 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory [because] APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English.
The two reasons attributed to Martin for the exclusion of 'Appraisal Theory' from the set of theories can be considered in turn.

The argument in (1) is that because Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory, 'Appraisal Theory' is not a theory.  It can be seen that the one does not logically entail the other since, even if Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory, it does not logically exclude the possibility that 'Appraisal Theory' is a theory.  Such matters depend on how 'theory' is defined, and Martin provides no definition of the term, thereby providing no opportunity for its negotiation.

Incidentally, the strategic use of the here also plays a rôle, given its function; Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 367):
The word the is a specific, determinative Deictic of a peculiar kind: it means ‘the subset in question is identifiable; but this will not tell you how to identify it – the information is somewhere around, where you can recover it’. … Hence the is usually accompanied by some other element that supplies the information required … . If there is no such information supplied, the subset in question will either be obvious from the situation, or else will have been referred to already in the discourse …
The argument in (2) is that because APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English, 'Appraisal Theory' is not a theory.  Again, it can be seen that the one does not logically entail the other, since even if APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English, it does not logically exclude the possibility that 'Appraisal Theory' is also a theory.  Again, such matters depend on how 'theory' is defined, and Martin provides no definition of the term, thereby providing no opportunity for its negotiation.

Two questions that might occur to any discourse analyst capable of critical thinking are:
  1. What is at stake for Martin?
  2. Why would he want his readers to believe that Appraisal Theory is not a theory?

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

David Rose On "Lexical Meanings And Lexical Relations In Grammatical Analysis"

… I am also intrigued by the roles of interpreting lexical items in the grammatical analysis. For example, the first clause is interpreted as receptive circumstantial identifying, subclassified as Cause:purpose, from synonymy of ‘purpose’ with the lexical item ‘aim’ and the embedded clause ‘to (do)’ 
The primary clauses are attributive, in which each 'experimental method’ is classified as 'an isothermal process’ or 'an isochoric process’. That seems to be the function of the non-specific Deictic “an”, to indicate a class of items.
What’s particularly intriguing to me is the extent of assumptions of lexical meanings and lexical relations in grammatical analysis. This is most apparent in Halliday’s discussion of relational processes in IFG, which I found baffling until I started recognising the lexical assumptions implicit in his categories.  Has anyone else experienced this?


Blogger Comments:

[1] These false claims proceed from a misunderstanding of the theoretical dimension of delicacy (but see also point [2] below).  The subtypes of process are located intermediate between the most general systems and the most delicate systems that specify individual lexical items.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 198-9):
… we can differentiate both processes and participants into finer and finer subcategories, until we reach a degree of differentiation that is associated with the choice of words (lexical items). Note that it is not (usually) the lexical items themselves that figure as terms of the systems in the network. Rather, the systems are systems of features, and the lexical items come in as the synthetic realisation of particular feature combinations. 

[2] This misunderstands the reasoning behind the grammatical analysis of the clause (shown here).  The clause construes a relation of identity between an embedded clause complex of cause: purpose (to investigate the properties of air…) and a nominal group of cause: purpose (the aim of this experiment); see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 500ff) on 'nouns of expansion'.

[3] The two 'primary' clauses are embedded and identifying, not attributive (as detailed here).  Each identifies (encodes) one experimental method.  The nominal groups with the non-specific Deictic an function as Identifier Token, not Attribute.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Jim Martin Inventing A New Tense

Here's one though that Halliday's [tense] system doesn't cope with:
if I had have done it





Blogger Comment:

Ignoring the if makes it clear that this is simply an instance of someone misinterpreting
I'd have done it
as
I had have done it 
instead of
I would have done it
The tense system provides the means of interpreting such instances — this one would be: "past-in-present-in-past" — and thus, the means of understanding why they are anomalous, and thus, why they are unlikely to scale the cline of instantiation and find a place in the general system of potential.

Googling 'had have' will demonstrate the infrequency of such instances.

For the discourse semantics of verbal groups (Martin 1992), see here, here and here.

Friday, 24 February 2017

John Bateman On The Interpersonal Metafunction In Mathematics

John Bateman wrote to sysfling on 24 February 2017 at 10:10 in reply to the query 'To what degree is TENOR important in mathematical discourse?':
one of the well known kinds of proofs for more advanced mathematics is 'proof by intimidation': sounds pretty interpersonal to me! :-) 
And as soon as you move down to educational contexts, you'll want to be hitting your tenor variables right. Since all metafunctions in less-grammaticised semiotic modes are in any case discourse interpretations, I'm sure you'll be able to find something... 
I'd be with Yaegan though in doubting that the technical resources employed in mathematics have any inherent interpersonal organisationalthough certain variations,
'x(1-y)' compared to 'x times (1 - y)'
may move in that direction. But is that what you meant?

Blogger Comments:

[1] The use of the word 'down' here — from genre to tenor — indicates that Bateman is using Martin's (1992) model* in which genre and register are misconstrued as context strata instead of functional varieties of language (a point on the cline of instantiation).  For some of the many theoretical misunderstandings on which Martin's model is based, see the arguments here.

[2] The use of the word 'discourse' here — instead of 'semantics' or 'meaning' — indicates that Bateman is using Martin's (1992) model* of discourse semantics.  For some of the many theoretical misunderstandings on which Martin's model is based, see the arguments here.

[3] Every mathematical equation is a proposition realised by a declarative clause, and structured as Subject^Finite/Predicator^Complement, whether realised in the graphology peculiar to the field of mathematics or in the unspecialised graphology of an individual language.  A sample structural analysis can be viewed here.

[4] The variation here is textual (mode), not interpersonal (tenor).


* Postscript: A critical examination of Bateman's review of Martin (1992) will be the subject of a new blog: Thoughts That Didn't Occur.  At first glance, it appears that Bateman has failed to notice any of the 2000+ theoretical inconsistencies in Martin's work (identified here).

Friday, 17 February 2017

David Rose On Genres As Features In Systems

David Rose wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 11 February 2017 at 07:42:
Can I reverse Andrés’ proposition, so that 'Bakhtin’s concepts of Dialogism, Polyphony and Heteroglossia’ are explained through SFL? To do so requires the hard yards of describing genre and register theoretically as semiotic systems. Then we can insist that genres are not ‘conventions’ but features in systems, with distinct structural realisations, but plenty of latitude for interstratal realisation in field, tenor and mode systems.
Perhaps one reason for missing register is the paucity of our work on these systems, compared with genre and language systems (and other modalities). Could this be a useful place to look for the next generation of SFL scholars?


Blogger Comments:

[1] For glosses of Bakhtin's notions of dialogism, voice (polyphony = many voices) and heteroglossia, see here.

[2] As the terms 'genre' and 'register' suggest, these are types of semiotic systems — prototypically: types of linguistic systems.  That is why they are theorised in SFL as a point of variation on the cline of instantiation of language, rather than as strata of context more abstract than language.

[3] insist:  'demand something forcefully, not accepting refusal'.

[4] The opposition 'features vs conventions' is a false dichotomy.  In SFL theory, genres (text types) vary by the frequencies of feature selection — in systems at the level of semantics and lexicogrammar.  It is the feature frequencies that distinguish one text type from another that corresponds to any notion of a text type as a 'convention'.

The "system" of genre that Rose is promoting is merely a taxonomy of genres, with a structural realisation associated with each genre.  The system does not generate a genre — in the way that a clause system generates a clause — and the associated text structures are misconstrued as context instead of semantics.

[5] The absurd claim here is that a stage of a genre, such as a narrative, is realised, say, in the tenor relation between the teller of the story, a parent, and its audience, a child.

[6] Let's hope the next generation of SFL scholars are able to understand the theoretical architecture, or at the very least, are able to tell the difference between context and language as text type.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

David Rose On Genre And Register Not Being Language

David Rose wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 11 February 2017 at 07:42:
I’d like to assume Estela’s *position* is the stratified context she mentions, of genre configuring register realised as language (and other modalities). This stratification is missing from much work on genre/language relations (within and without SFL), which has the effect of putting all the explanatory load on genre and language. One result is the ongoing battles over variations in genre that are really variations in field, tenor and mode. Another is the assumption that finding similar language patterns associated with different genres means that genres are somehow ‘mixed’.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The "stratified context" model (Martin 1992), in which genre and register are misconstrued as context instead of language variants, derives from misunderstandings of both stratification and instantiation, as demonstrated in great detail here and here.

[2] This misrepresents Martin's model of stratified context.  Genre doesn't "configure" register; on Martin's model, genre is realised by register.  Martin posits genre and register as different levels of symbolic abstraction.  In SFL theory, genre (text type) and register are the same phenomenon — functional varieties of language — viewed from opposite poles of the cline of instantiation.

[3] In SFL theory, register isn't "realised" as language; it is the culture-as-semiotic-system that is realised as language.  Registers are (diatypic varieties of) language — different language variants that realise different context variants (situation types).

[4] In SFL theory, the relation between genre and language is modelled in terms of the cline of instantiation.  At the system pole of the cline is language as potential, at the instance pole is language as text, and in the middle of the cline is language as genre.

[5] In SFL theory, "variations in genre" is linguistic variation according to text type, whereas "variations in field, tenor and mode" is contextual variation.  In SFL theory, different genres (text types) realise different contextual configurations (Hasan) of field, tenor and mode features.  In Martin's model, it is the opposite: different genres are realised by different field, tenor and mode features, with these features being misconstrued as register.  In Martin's model, text type (genre) is realised by register, and neither are language.

[6] This is a non-sequitur.  This assumption is not a result of ignoring Martin's confused model of stratified context.   For the notion of 'mixed genres', see the previous post.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

John Bateman On 'Genre Mixing'

John Bateman wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 10 February 2017 at 23:57: 
So, yes, one can well get a variety of 'mixes' when we cross strata, and perhaps the more abstract, the more this is possible (semiotically because the body or weight of distinctions instantiated at the less abstract strata begins to be sufficiently substantial as to be able to 'stand against' other collections of instantiations)Isn't this just heteroglossia? Doesn't sound too contentious.
As a text unfolds, there is then sufficient material to realise syndromes of choices that appear to realise several 'genres' either simultaneously or within locally distinct portions of the text as a whole. Taking the weather-climate metaphor: some texts may have patchy weather, perhaps even microclimates, generically. This shouldn't lead to theoretical difficulties.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands stratification.  There is no "crossing of strata" during logogenesis.  In SFL, strata are different levels of symbolic abstraction, not interacting modules.  Since "going up the strata" cannot occur, it cannot increase the likelihood of a text being attributed to more than one text type ("genre mixing").

[2] To be clear, on the SFL model, the way that genres differ is in terms of the frequencies of feature selections (if viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation, as text types), or in terms of the probabilities of feature selections (if viewed from the system pole, as registers).

[3] In SFL, the criterial stratum for genre classification is semantics. This is because genre/text type/register is a semantic concept.  Halliday in Halliday & Hasan (1985: 38-9):
A register is a semantic concept.  It can be defined as a configuration of meanings that are typically associated with a particular situational configuration of field, mode, and tenor.  But since it is a configuration of meanings, a register must also, of course, include the expressions, the lexico-grammatical and phonological features, that typically accompany or REALISE these meanings.
[4] This is not heteroglossia.  Heteroglossia refers to the same wording realising different meaning in different contexts.  Bakhtin (1981: 428):
The base condition governing the operation of meaning in any utterance. It is that which insures the primacy of context over text. At any given time, in any given place, there will be a set of conditions — social, historical, meteorological, physiological — that will insure that a word uttered in that place and at that time will have a meaning different than it would have under any other conditions; all utterances are heteroglot in that they are functions of a matrix of forces practically impossible to recoup, and therefore impossible to resolve.
[5] This misconstrues instantiation as stratification, following Martin (1992).  In SFL, the relation between text and genre is instantiation, not realisation.  Some of the theoretical problems with Martin's construal of genre as a stratum of context are detailed here.  It can be briefly noted, for instance, that if genre is modelled as a stratum of context, then a text is not an instance of a genre, since text is an instance of language, not context, and genre is modelled as context, not language.

[6] This misunderstands the weather-climate metaphor that is used to explain the cline of instantiation.  On the basis of that metaphor, the meteorological counterpart of a text that "mixes genres" is weather that "mixes weather types".  That is to say, the meteorological counterpart of a text that fits the statistical profile of more than one genre is weather that fits the statistical profile of more than one weather type.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

David Rose Confused By Mixed Genres

So where does our model afford ‘mixing’ 
Between features in systems? That would produce a new valeur, so a different feature

Between features and structures in axis? Again, a different (mixed?) structure realises a different feature
Between systems at different strata? OK, here we have lots of variation (grammatical metaphor is one example among many)
Here’s an advantage of modelling context as a stratified semiotic 
Genre is a semiotic system, whose features are realised axially by various structural configurations (e.g. staging)
Change the structural configuration sufficiently and we have a different valeur in the system, i.e. a different genre
But one generic structure can be realised interstratally by many variations in register

Again, field, tenor and mode are semiotic systems, with similar sets of constraints and potential for variation

And again their structures can be realised interstratally in variable ways, including modalities other than language

Blogger Comments:

[1] The notion of 'mixing' here refers to instances that 'mix genres'.  On the SFL model, this means texts that can be ascribed to more than one text type.  As explained in the previous post, text types vary by the frequency of feature selections, and so text types are more like fuzzy sets than discrete categories, with texts showing degrees of membership to text types.

[2] The fundamental disadvantages of modelling context as stratified genre and register are:
  • genre and register are varieties of language, not systems of context;
  • context is the culture as semiotic, not varieties of language;
  • genre and register are not different levels of symbolic abstraction (strata), but different angles on a point of variation on the cline of instantiation;
  • strata are systems (semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology), not varieties;
  • a text is an instance of language, not an instance of context — whether stratified or not.  
For more detailed argumentation, see here, here, or here.

[3] The genre "systems" in Martin (1992) and Martin & Rose (2008) are not systems of feature options, but genre taxonomies of types, and do not include realisation statements.  From the perspective of SFL theory, the stages of genre are semantic structures varying according to text type; see Hasan (1985: 64-9) on 'generic structure potentials'.

[4] This confuses different options in the systems of field, tenor and mode with different variants — different configurations of field, tenor and mode — and misrepresents these contextual systems as diatypic varieties of language.  See Hasan (1985: 55ff) on contextual configurations.

[5] No systems of field, tenor or mode provide realisation statements specifying syntagmatic structures.  The realisation of such structures, in terms of stratification, would be semantic structures.

Monday, 13 February 2017

John Bateman Re-Inventing Genre

If it is not recognisable as an instance of one genre, then it must be another genre.
I disagree with this position.

indeed; this would be genre à la old-style literary criticism (probably being ungenerous even to them). The story can be 'made to be true' trivially by defining genre in such a way that it is a unique label that can be attributed to any text, but that is an unnecessary modelling move that weakens any account and has a dubious relationship to properties of the relevant semiotic system(s).
Since genre is a discourse phenomenon (if it's anything), attributions of genres are attributions of hypotheses concerning relevant conventions of interpretation.  The lexicogrammar and semantics are well capable of carrying patterns attributable to multiple sources of conventional interpretation. Any instance of language use can draw on and signal relevance of a variety of genres simultaneously or across logogenesis. Models are required that do not promote 'mixing' as something special, but as the norm.  Otherwise genre change over time becomes more difficult to account for than necessary, rather than falling out of the model as a prediction. Surprised that one should consider anything else these days...

Blogger Comments:

[1] It is Bateman's de novo theorising on genre that is unnecessary.  In SFL theory, a genre is Hasan's (1985) term for a text type — that is, a genre is a register viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.  Every text, by definition, is a type of text, even if it is the only token of its type.

[2] On the SFL model, where genre variation is a point on the cline of instantiation, rather than misconstrued as a stratum of context, genres vary by the frequencies of feature selection at the stratum of semantics, together with those of the strata below that realise semantic selections.

If genre variation is viewed from the system pole of the cline, then it appears as register variation. Registers vary by the probabilities of feature selection at the stratum of semantics, together with those of the strata below that realise them.  This means that registers shade into one another, since they may share some probabilities, and it means that a given text (instance) can be attributed to different registers — and so: different genres — depending on which features are focused on as criterial.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73):
In general, like any other language, English needs to be interpreted and described as an assemblage of varieties – varieties that are differentiated along different dimensions, with fuzzy boundaries.
It is the probabilistic interpretation of variation that provides a window on the evolution of language and its subpotentials, as Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73-4) point out, taking the perspective of lexicogrammar:
the system of lexicogrammar is probabilistic in nature, and probabilities vary across varieties of English – dialectal, codal and registerial varieties. If we include probabilistic information in the description of the lexicogrammar, we also pave the way for interpreting the system as one that is always in the process of becoming, not one that is in a frozen state of being: the evolution of language involves gradual changes in probabilities, over long periods of time but also over much shorter periods.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

John Bateman Denying The Existence Of Text

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....



Blogger Comments:

Bateman claims that variations of patterns of pressure gradients in the air and contrasts in brightness in the visual field exist, but that text does not.

actually
there
’s
no such thing as text


Process: existential
Existent
comment Adjunct: factual
Subject
Finite
Complement

There
’s
just
variations of patterns of pressure gradients in the air and contrasts in brightness in the visual field

Process: existential

Existent
Subject
Finite
mood Adjunct: counterexpectancy: limiting
Complement

On the one hand, the claim here is that only phenomena in the material domain of experience can be ascribed to the set of existents — a view that owes something to Galileo's distinction between primary and secondary qualities, refined further by Descartes' distinction between res extensa and res cogitans.  On the other hand, it is a reductionist interpretation of that view, since it reduces the existence of such material phenomena to (virtually) their lowest level of organisation, ignoring all higher levels.

Galileo's distinction assumes that meaning is transcendent — that it is not confined to semiotic systems.  In contrast, SFL theory models meaning as immanent — confined to the domain of semiotic systems. Variations of patterns of pressure gradients in the air and contrasts in brightness in the visual field, just as much as texts, are construals of experience as meaning.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

David Rose Denying The Existence Of Linguistic Theory

*Actually* there’s no such thing as genres, or registers, or grammar. There's just text. What we like to call genres, or cultural practices, or semiotic acts, or grammatical features… are just recurring instances of similar patterns in ongoing text, that we recognise as types and might give names to. 
Features at any stratum are nothing but records of past recurrences (usuality) that may predict future recurrences (probability) 
One social application of linguistics is to (try to) control future recurrences (obligation) 
How many recurrences does it take before we call it a feature?

Blogger Comments:

[1] Rose claims that text exists but that genres, registers and grammar* do not.

Actually
there
’s
no such thing as genres, or registers, or grammar


Process: existential
Existent
comment Adjunct: factual
Subject
Finite
Complement

There
’s
just
text

Process: existential

Existent
Subject
Finite
mood Adjunct: counterexpectancy: limiting
Complement

The assumption here is that only instances of perceptual phenomena can be ascribed to the set of existents.  Halliday (2008: 13):
Observed from close up, language appears in the guise of text, instances of spoken or written discourse that can be perceived by the senses — that can be heard or seen. Observed from a distance, language appears as a potential, an open ended network of possibilities with certain statistical properties and having certain kinds of interrelationship with its eco-social environment.
The validity of the proposition can be assessed by considering a couple of its implications:
  • Language–as–instance (text) exists, but language–as–potential does not.  (Cf weather exists, but climate does not.)  That is, only the instance pole of the cline of instantiation "exists"; a speaker's potential to instantiate texts in logogenesis does not "exist"; the potential that is established in individuals in ontogenesis does not "exist"; the potential that evolves in the species does not "exist".
  • Texts about genres, registers and grammar exist, but their subject matter does not.  A text such as Genre Relations is concerned with things that don't exist.

[2] This is the view of registers/genres — as a midpoint on the cline of instantiation — from the instance pole only; see Halliday (2008: 81-2) here.  Rose, however, follows Martin in misconstruing genre and register as systems of context.

[3] Feature frequencies in instances reflect feature probabilities in the system of potential. From the system pole perspective, differences in feature probabilities characterise different registers; from the instance pole perspective, differences in feature frequencies characterise different text types (genres).

[4] "Nothing but" is the language of reductionism (a.k.a. "nothing buttery").

[5] This is prescriptivist pedagogy.  See the is–ought problem, also known as Hume's law, or Hume's guillotine.

[6] To be clear, the question is: 'how far up the cline of instantiation does a feature extend?  Is it only a feature of one text?  Is it also a feature of its text type?  Is it also a feature of the general system of potential?


* Note that, in order to avoid ambiguity, Halliday sometimes distinguishes between 'grammar' (data: the phenomenon modelled) and 'grammatics' (theory: the model of the phenomenon).