Thursday, 3 October 2013

David Rose On Stratified Context

On 2/10/13 David Rose wrote on sysfling:
The historical materialist perspective that underpins Halliday's life work, and the theory we all work with, also suggests that our consciousness tends to be shaped by our position in the social division of labour, a view that Bernstein among many others has elaborated.
There is also a social division of labour within the field of production of SFL theory, organised along the lines of the theory itself. Some of us are specialist phonologists, others grammarians, others discourse analysts, and many others are specialists in fields beyond linguistics.
It is a matter of interest to me, and perhaps worth researching further, that the latter two groups have provided the bulk of contributions to the explosion of research generated over the last 30 years by the discovery that the contexts of language are also stratified as register and genre. On the other hand, of those among us who still seem to find most difficulty with accepting this concept, the first two groups seem to predominate.

Blogger Comment:

If the problem with Martin's model — the stratification of the context as register and genre — were merely the negative attitude of some linguists toward it — see an Appraisal analysis of Rose's attitude here — the proponents of the model would have nothing to fear.  It is the fact that there are valid reasons for rejecting the stratified model of context that guarantees it will not survive long in its current form.

It is not genre theory that is the problem — it stands alone as a distinct theory  — it is its construal with the SFL architecture as a stratum of context that is the problem.  For suggestions on how genre is scattered across the SFL architecture, see arguments here.

On the other hand, Martin's model of register is problematic even if it is not construed as a stratum of context — but that's another matter.