Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Tom Bartlett On Attributive Clauses

Tom Bartlett wrote on 17 April 2012 at 17:19 on the sys-func & sysfling lists:

I would analyse "that she had decided on fur" in
She was glad that she had decided on her fur.
as a metaphenomenon rather than a projection as "glad that" construes a reaction to a presupposed event rather than the verbal or mental representation of an event. This can be shown by separating the clauses:
She decided on fur and she was glad about it.
*She decided on fur and John thinks it/so. 
This also shows that substitution is with a pronominal rather than SO. There's a complication, however, in that English (unlike e.g. Spanish) does not allow the combination of preposition and THAT + fact, so that the preposition showing the relationship between the attribute and the phenomenon only appears with simple Phenomena rather than metaphenomena:
She was glad about the decision.
She was glad about it.
She was glad (*about) that she had decided on fur.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The clause She was glad that she had decided on her fur is an attributive relational clause

glad [[that she had decided on her fur]]
Process: relational

in which that she had decided on fur is a pre-projected fact — a projection and thus a metaphenomenon — which functions as Qualifier in the nominal group functioning as Attribute.

 [[that she had decided on her fur]]

[2] The words glad that do not form a functional grammatical unit; glad is the Head/Epithet of a nominal group realising the Attribute and that is a structural element of the embedded clause functioning as the Qualifier (that she had decided on her fur) in that nominal group.

[3] The preposition about in the clause She was glad about the decision does not show "the relationship between the attribute and the phenomenon", as Bartlett would maintain.  There are several reasons for this:
  • there is no Phenomenon in the clause, because the clause is attributive and Phenomenon is a participant in mental clauses;
  • the preposition about serves as the minor Process in the prepositional phrase realising a circumstance of Matter (about the decision)* — circumstances of Matter are agnate with the Phenomenon in mental clauses;
  • the decision is thus the Range of prepositional phrase realising the circumstance of Matter, not "a simple phenomenon".

about the decision
Process: relational

the decision

It's also worth noting that, in terms of orders of experience, the decision is not a "simple" (first-order: material) phenomenon.  It is metaphenomenal (second-order: semiotic), since it is the name of a mental or verbal projection — as can be seen in she decided to buy a fur coat, where the decision is the projection to buy a fur coat.

* The analysis of the prepositional phrase about the decision as ranking (circumstance of Matter), rather than embedded (Qualifier), is made on the basis that it can be thematised, as in It was about the decision that she was glad.