Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Robin Fawcett On Interstratal Specification

On 29 June 2011 at 08:42, Robin Fawcett wrote to Sysfling:
Indeed, if Michael Halliday and Christian Matthiessen had formed a clear view of the way in which the choices described in their Construing Experience Through Meaning determine the choices in the major system networks of the lexicogrammar, they would surely have said so in that book. I have looked hard for a section that makes this connection, but I have yet to find it. This suggests that the model proposed there is simply one possible, half-complete hypothesis that needs to be subject to the normal process in science of development, testing, evaluation, revision (or rejection), retesting, re-evaluation, and so on.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 98-9) sets out the congruent lexicogrammatical realisations of semantic figures and elements:

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 98):
Within the ideational metafunction, each [of the four types of figure] is realised congruently by one particular transitivity type: doing & happening ( material, sensing ( mental, saying ( verbal, and being & having ( relational.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 99):
Within the ideational component, [the three types of element] are realised by different classes of units:
process ( verbal group,
participant ( nominal group,
circumstance ( adverbial group; prepositional phrase.

[2]  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 94):
Such selections have been referred to as “pre-selections”, but in order to avoid any connotations of temporal sequence, we prefer the term “selection” for such relations in the ideation base.

[3] For an appraisal analysis of Fawcett's negative attitude towards Halliday and Matthiessen, click here.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Jim Martin On Stratification

In a Sysfling discussion [26/6/2011], Jim Martin wrote:
I don't consider it wise to skip a stratum of metaredundancy and relate clause meanings directly to context, more or less ignoring co-text since it's the co-textualised meanings that construe field, tenor and mode.

Blogger Comments:

(1) "metaredundancy"

Strata are not levels of metaredundancy. Metaredundancy is a redundancy on a redundancy. For example, semantics is metaredundant on the redundant relation between lexicogrammar and phonology. The relation between two adjacent strata is one of redundancy not metaredundancy.

(2) "clause meanings and skipping a stratum"

The meanings of clauses are meanings realised by clauses, and so the meanings realised by clauses are of the semantic stratum. There is no "skipping a stratum" when relating lexicogrammar to semantics to context.

(3) "it is co-textualised meanings that construe field, tenor and mode"

It is meaning that construes/realises context (field, tenor and mode). "Co-textualised" meanings are only at the instance pole of the cline of instantiation — in texts — where they realise specific contexts of situation. There are no "co-textualised" meanings at the system pole of the cline of instantiation, and so: no construal of the field, tenor and mode of the context of culture by them. A theory of semantics must be accountable at all points along the cline of instantiation, not just at the instance pole.

Friday, 3 June 2011


Contra Martin (1992: 496), the size of the units on various strata is irrelevant to the principle on which stratification is based.

Linguistic strata represent different levels of symbolic abstraction.

The levels of abstraction are identified as:
meaning (semantics)
wording (lexicogrammar)
sounding (phonology)