Thursday, 27 December 2012

David Rose On Process Type Vs "Verb Type"

On 20/12/12 David Rose wrote on the sys- func and sysfling lists:
It is very common to confuse process type with type of verb, but they are at different ranks in the grammar.
This confusion is possibly not helped by expert discussions that often elide this distinction, for example of 'lexis as delicate grammar'.

Blogger Comments:

[1] process type is a functional system at the rank of clause, whereas "type of verb" is a type of form, like 'clause type' or 'group type', and as such, is not a functional system at word rank.

In SFL theory, the functional system that is realised by lexical verbs is the verbal group system of event type,  which is concerned with the temporal properties of verbs and not, for example, their potentiality in realising process type.  Halliday and Matthiessen (2004: 348):
… the system network of the verbal group is a network of systems representing contrasts that are purely grammatical in nature.  The only system that extends in delicacy towards distinctions that are realised lexically is the system of event type — the verbal group analogue of the thing type system in the nominal group.  This system is concerned with distinctions among verbs relating to their temporal properties (thus complementing the clausal system of process type, which is concerned with distinctions among processes relating to configurations of process plus participants).

[2] Expert discussions of 'lexis as delicate grammar' are not even concerned with the distinction between process type and "type of verb" — let alone elide it — and any discussion that confuses either function with form, or the rank scale with the scale of delicacy is manifestly inexpert.