Wednesday, 30 May 2012

David Rose On Co-text And Semantics

David Rose wrote on Sysfling at 13:53 on 30 May 2012 about the clause complex Destroy it and man is destroyed:
There are two clauses in this sentence …
destroy it, will you?
man is destroyed, isn't he?
They are related grammatically by paratactic addition 'and'.
Any conditional relation is a discourse semantic inference, recoverable from the co-text, it is not there in the grammar of the clause complex. The grammar is not sufficient to interpret this (or any other).

Blogger Comments:

This confuses co-text with levels of symbolic abstraction (stratification).

Discourse semantics, if the stratum above lexicogrammar (wording), is a higher level of symbolic abstraction (meaning).

The co-text, on the other hand, is the text that accompanies this excerpt, and its content can be analysed at each stratum of symbolic abstraction: wording (lexicogrammar) and meaning (semantics).

It is simply not true that the meaning realised in the logical relation of the clause complex can be inferred — or is only recoverable — from the co-text: there is nothing at all in the co-text that suggests the logical meaning being incongruently worded as [extension: addition] is [enhancement: condition].

It is not that 'the grammar is not sufficient to interpret this (or any other)' but that, in SFL, all grammatical analysis involves taking a trinocular perspective, and this includes determining the meaning being realised in the wording.

See here for an analysis of the clause complex in question.