Thursday, 5 December 2013

David Rose On Lexis, Grammar And Instantiation

On 4/12/13, David Rose wrote on the Sys-func and Sysfling lists:
PS My own view is we need take Ockham's Razor to the 'grammarian's dream', and handle lexical choices as realising discourse semantic features. Hasan showed the possibility of drawing system networks from grammatical to lexical features in one small region of relation process types, but it has gone no further as such networks soon become impossibly complex, and self-contradictory. To me it seems simpler to treat lexis and grammar as co-instantiating. (Actually I think that is what linguists do tacitly with their examples all the time.)

Blogger Comments:

[1] There is no need to take Ockham's Razor to the 'grammarian's dream' of lexis as most delicate grammar, since on the stratificational model, the lexicogrammatical stratum — from grammar to lexis — is already construed as realising the semantic stratum.  On the other hand, we could use Ockham's Razor to excise 'discourse' from 'discourse semantics' because the term is redundant.

[2] On the complexity involved in elaborating the lexicogrammar, Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 46) write:
It would take at least 100 volumes of the present size [ie of IFG] to extend the description of the grammar up to that point [of maximum delicacy] for any substantial portion of the vocabulary.
[3] On the SFL model, grammar and lexis are the same phenomenon, lexicogrammar, viewed from different ends of the scale of delicacy.  Given that the process of instantiation is the selection of features and the execution of realisation statements, the instantiation of grammatical systems and lexical systems is the same process viewed from different ends of the scale of delicacy.

The notion of 'co-instantiation', like 'de-instantiation' and 'distanciation', betrays a misunderstanding of the theoretical valeur of instantiation.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Mick O'Donnell On Process Types And Projection

On 3/12/13, Mick O'Donnell wrote on the Sys-Func and Sysfling lists:
One thing I will say: IFG 3rd ed. (2004) was a result of extensive addition by Christian of Halliday's IFG 2.  One thing I have noticed is that Christian tends more to notional coding than Halliday, swayed more by semantic similarity, while Halliday is more grammatical in his coding
For instance, there is a new example in IFG3 involving "talk .. .about" being a verbal process, while the previous page (and IFG 1) list"talk" as behavioural.
In any case. the BNC lists one example of "mourn" with a projection:
"The steward was not left to mourn that his bottles found no custom"
Admittedly, one instance is not substantial. But this sentence reads ok to me at least.
The principle as I understand it is that the verb has to have the POTENTIAL to project verbally to be considered mental or verbal. Otherwise it may be behavioural (as in "talk").

Blogger Comments:

[1] Matthiessen, like Halliday, advocates taking a trinocular perspective on the grammar, looking at it 'from above', 'from roundabout' and 'from below'. This is in contradistinction to "notional coding".

[2] The verb talk can serve as verbal process or behavioural process, depending on how it functions in a clause.  O'Donnell again makes the error of taking the verb itself as the point of departure for determining the function of an element of clause structure.

[3] This example is a single clause with an embedded fact — (the fact) that his bottles found no custom — not a clause nexus of projection.

[4]  The principle that O'Donnell "understands" is entirely of his own making, and one source of his confusion.  There are subtypes of both mental and verbal processes that either don't have the potential to project, as in mental processes of perception and emotion, or are relatively unlikely to project, as in 'targeting' verbal processes.

Mick O'Donnell On Perception Verbs

On 3/12/13, Mick O'Donnell wrote on the Sys-func and Sysfling lists:
IFG3 lists the following perception verbs:
perceive, sense, see, notice, glimse, hear, overhear, feel, taste, smell
And note these can all project (with reservations on the last two):
I perceived that he was uneasy.
I sensed that he was uneasy.
I saw that he was uneasy.
I noticed that he was uneasy.
I glim[p]sed that he had the Joker.
I heard that you won.
I overheard that you like cheese.
I felt that I should leave.
? I smelt that she had been here
? I tasted that she had used garlic

Blogger Comments:

There are two problems here.  

[1] The first problem is O'Donnell's continual mistaking of embedded clauses for projected ones, as demonstrated in previous critiques.  As a general guide, whenever that can be replaced by the fact that, we know we are dealing with a 'fact' clause, and so with a clause that is embedded as a constituent within another clause.

[2] The second problem is the analytical mistake of using the verb itself as the point of departure for determining the process type of a particular clause.  A specific verb can serve as various types of Process, as when see functions as a mental process of cognition, rather than perception.

Mick O'Donnell On Mental Processes

On 3/12/13 Mick O'Donnell wrote on the Sys-func and Sysfling lists:
As for your "get a bird's eye view" being mental, if it can't clausally project, it can't be mental, if we take Halliday's criteria seriously:
* I got a bird's eye view that it was beautiful
Note however:
I got the idea that you were here.
...that potentially projects, so could be mental.  An alternative analysis would place the "that" clause as a postmodifier to "idea", which would dismiss the mental analysis.
Blogger Comments:

[1] If we do indeed "take Halliday's criteria seriously", then the ability to project is not a necessary criterion for mental processes.  Only the 'higher' mental processes of cognition and desideration have the potential to project; the 'lower' mental processes of perception and emotion cannot project, though they can range over (embedded) pre-projected facts, as in He heard (the fact) that you were ill.

(the fact) [[ that you were ill ]]
Process: mental
Phenomenon: metaphenomenon

[2] Again, this is not a projection nexus — but it is a mental clause.  The embedded Postmodifier does not "dismiss the mental analysis":

the idea [[ that you were here ]]
Process: mental
Phenomenon: metaphenomenon

As demonstrated elsewhere here, O'Donnell does not understand the distinction between projection nexuses and simple clauses with embedded projections.