Saturday, 10 March 2012

Mick O'Donnell On Process Types [1]

In a discussion on the email list sfl_education on 23/2/12 concerning process types, Mick O'Donnell writes:
Cases where we don't really have a category: For me, we really need a 7th category for modal lexical verbs, e.g., I was required to leave (also allowed, permitted, obliged, etc.) I find it hard to say these are auxiliary verbs.

Blogger Comments:

[1] On the SFL model, examples such as  I was required/allowed/permitted/obliged to leave do not involve an auxiliary in a verbal group.  Instead, these involve a hypotactic verbal group complex.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 513):
… there is a special set that only exist as causatives, where the meaning is simply that of agency: make, cause, force require, let, allow, permit, etc.  These admit of three degrees of modulation …
[2] O'Donnell's "I find it hard to say" — like "I cannot believe" — is an example of the logical fallacy known as the argument from personal incredulity.

Mick O'Donnell On Process Types [2]

Mick O'Donnell replied on 24 February 2012 08:27:
This doesn't change my point. Halliday and Matthiessen's analysis is one analysis of these phenomena. But if we can one minute assume that it is not the case that because they say something in IFG 3, then it must be true, then we can start getting back to doing real linguistics.
As I said in my email, I believe an alternative analysis of this phenomena, where require/allow/permit, etc. are treated as full verbs, and since they have grammatical patternings very distinct to material verbs, to create a new process type for them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] O'Donnell's point has no validity because it proceeds from an inaccurate rendering of the theory in question.

[2] For example, the verbs in these verbal groups are neither 'auxiliary' nor less than "full". In clauses such as 'I was required to leave', 'was required' is the alpha verbal group and 'to leave' is the beta verbal group in a verbal group complex.

[3] The distinct grammatical patterns reflect the fact that these verbs of modulation introduce causation into the clause by means of a verbal group complex, adding the feature of agency to the clause as a whole.

[4] Theory improvement proceeds from an accurate rendering of the theory in question.  The issue is accurate interpretation, not dogmatic belief.