Friday, 13 January 2012

Tom Bartlett On Medium

On 12 January 2012 14:16 Tom Bartlett wrote:
in I gave John the book, John could be analysed (pace IFG3:190) as the Medium (he is changed by receiving the book, which is relegated to Range) and can thus be made Subject (passivisation is an ergative function, conflating Medium with Subject, not a transitive one, see IFG3:302): John was given the book. i.e. this last is not the passive of "I gave the book to John". I've always felt unhappy about John being analysed as Recipient (on semantic grounds) in both these clauses despite the LG differences, and this analysis suggests an alternative. I'm aware that this is more unorthodox than my other analyses, but it does seem consistent with the concept of Medium. One last point, the idea that the passive is used to grant Medium status would seem to be backed up by: I saw Jack yesterday. (I am Medium, the locus of the process; my state of knowledge has changed).  Tom was seen by various passers-by. (Tom is reconstrued as Medium rather than Range (IFG3:291) as having his whereabouts known has altered his status);

Blogger Comments:

(1) If the Medium refers to the entity through which the process unfolds, then none of this analysis is consistent with the concept of Medium.  For example, the locus of a process is not the entity through which a process unfolds;  the locus of a process is circumstantial: its spatio-temporal location.

(2) 'The contrast between ‘operative’ and ‘receptive’ is a contrast in voice open to ‘transitive’ clauses' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 181-2).  'Note that 'transitivity' is the name for the whole system, including both the 'transitive' model and the 'ergative' one.  'Ergativity is thus not the name of a system, but of a property of the system of transitivity' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 281).

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