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.