Friday, 21 February 2014

Halliday & Matthiessen On Knowledge, Language And Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 3):
We contend that the conception of 'knowledge' as something that exists independently of language, and may then be coded or made manifest in language, is illusory.  All knowledge is constituted in semiotic systems, with language as the most central; and all such representations of knowledge are constructed from language in the first place.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 429):
It follows then … that for us [Fawcett's extralinguistic] “knowledge of the universe” is construed as meaning rather than as knowledge. This meaning is in the first instance created in language; but we have noted that meaning is created in other semiotic systems as well, both other social-semiotic systems and other semiotic systems such as perception. Our account gives language more of a central integrative rôle in the overall system. It is the one semiotic system which is able to construe meanings from semiotic systems in general.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 602):
Language is not a second–order code through which meanings created in some higher–order realm of existence are mysteriously made manifest and brought to light.  To borrow the conceit that Firth was fond of caricaturing, there are no “naked ideas” lurking in the background waiting to be clothed.  It is language that creates meaning, in the sense that meaning has for us as human beings (which is the only sense of it that we can know).
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603):
… our interpretation of meaning is immanent, so that meaning is inside language, not some separate, higher domain of human experience.
See also Cognition: The Mental Map Is A Semiotic Map

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Tom Bartlett On Thought

Tom Bartlett at 10:37 on 19/2/14 wrote to sys-func:
There are different types of thought, not all of which fit easily with a notion of inner speech and which relate to internalised speech in different ways.

The other day on the plane I thought:
"That attractive woman opposite me is picking at the bobbling on her jumper; I often do that; she looks quite style conscious, perhaps she knows if picking the bobbling off will improve or spoil the look of the jumper in the long term; perhaps I could ask her and so pass the journey in an enjoyably flirty manner." (Of course I didn't.)
I thought all of this in an instant and without language as a mediating (formational?) tool and would suggest that such a thought would be possible to those "without language" (I know this is dangerous ground, but it's an idea worth pursuing...).

At other times I do have extended periods of inner discourse (though I often mutter it out loud, much to the embarrassment of my wife and kids). On these occasions language and meaning arise together and I am very aware of stress patterns etc. (as I am now as I think and write this almost simultaneously). But this is only one form of thought and one relation between thought and language.

To put the problem in a nutshell, is anyone suggesting that those born deaf do not think or that they think in signing? To repeat a question from yesterdebate, did Helen Keller not think until she "had language"? Or were her thought processes some kind of language, which developed and altered her way of thinking? Might (some forms of) thought then be internalised interaction but not necessarily "linguistic"?

Alternatively, do higher primates think? Or does simply being aware of being afraid, without naming the emotion, count as thought?

Blogger Comments:

[1] As the quote makes plain, what Bartlett thought was language: a mental projection of meaning, and so, by definition, would not be possible for those "without language".

[2] The notion that language can "arise" without meaning is nonsensical.

[3] Signers mentally project the ideas of language, just like any other meaners.

[4] If SFL is any guide, our fellow higher primates, as Sensers, are Mediums of the four general kinds of mental process: perception, emotion, desideration and cognition, though what they project through desideration and cognition are not the ideas of language — unless, like Kanzi, they are language users.  They do use protolanguage though, which means the distinctions of their inner domain of experience, cognition and desideration, are cross-coupled with the distinctions of their outer domain of experience, intersubjective and objective, yielding the four microfunctions.

David Rose On "Semantics As A Mirror Image Of The Grammar"

David Rose posted (apparently unsuccessfully) to sys-func at 11:30 on 18/2/14 and then (successfully) to sysfling at 15:41 on 19/2/14:
My point is that this is a description of the meanings made in the grammar. A point you are making (I think) is that relations between meanings in grammar and meanings in discourse are not one-to-one, but many-to-many. You see the semantic stratum as organising grammatical choices, to realise higher level meanings. This is quite different from the model I have been questioning, in which semantics is held to be a mirror image of the grammar. But it is not so far from the theory of discourse semantics.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Ideationally, the lexicogrammar construes experience as meaning, where 'construe' means “construct semiotically, transform into meaning” (Halliday 2008: 2); and in terms of stratification, the lexicogrammar realises meaning.

[2] In the SFL model that challenges Rose, semantics isn't "held to be a mirror image of the grammar".  In congruent realisations, sequences are realised by clause complexes, figures by clauses, and elements by groups/phrases, for example.  But in the case of grammatical metaphor, the realisation relations can vary considerably, as when a semantic figure is realised, not as a ranking clause, but as participant in the function structure of a clause, or as the Qualifier of a nominal group that realises a participant; and so on.  Some helpful quotes from the ideational perspective:

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 26):
Thus when we move from the lexicogrammar into the semantics, as we are doing here, we are not simply relabelling everything in a new terminological guise. We shall stress the fundamental relationship between (say) clause complex in the grammar and sequence in the semantics, precisely because the two originate as one: a theory of the logical relationships between processes.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 237):
Of course, what we are recognising here as two distinct constructions, the semantic and the grammatical, never had or could have had any existence the one prior to the other; they are our analytic representation of the overall semioticising of experience — how experience is construed into meaning. If the congruent form had been the only form of construal, we would probably not have needed to think of semantics and grammar as two separate strata: they would be merely two facets of the content plane, interpreted on the one hand as function and on the other as form. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

David Rose On Form/Content Dualism

David Rose wrote at 15:41 on 19/2/14 to sysfling:
Apologies if this is reposted. My last 3 posts in this string were received by individuals but apparently blocked from "sys-func (oz)".
This makes it clear that Halliday saw formalism as the dominant tradition in linguistics from its beginnings. His inversion is an historic step towards abandoning the form/content dualism altogether
I think this further step will take longer, because the container metaphor, from which the form/content dualism derives, is so deeply enmeshed in modern thinking. Matthiessen 1993 explores the 'long tradition of regarding language as a vehicle, container or wrapper of thoughts which arise in the individual’s mind.' 
SFL has abandoned the container model of language, but the form/content dualism it produced persists, re-construed as strata of 'wording' and 'meaning'.

Blogger Comments:

[0] Rose's messages to sys-func were not "blocked" — there is no filter in place on messages sent from subscribed addresses, and the list manager (muggins) received no "bounced message" alerts from the system software.  No-one is keener than the list manager to see Rose's messages, since he is the most prolific contributor of misconstruals to this blog.

[1] In SFL, form is a key component of the strata of wording (lexicogrammar) and sounding (phonology).  Each of these strata is organised according to a rank scale of forms: clause, phrase/group, word, morpheme; and tone group, foot, syllable, phoneme.  The "dualism" here is of form and function: functions at a higher rank (eg clause) are realised by forms at the rank below (phrase/group).

[2] A variant of a container metaphor is deployed in SFL as the content plane: the strata of meaning (semantics) and wording (lexicogrammar).

[3] The strata of wording and meaning are clearly not a reconstrual of "form/content dualism".  'Content' applies to both meaning and wording: it is what they have in common; and 'form' applies to both wording and sounding: it is what they have in common.

Cf Halliday (2008: 180):
Thus the lexicogrammar — linguistic form — dimensionalises semantic space; and the grammatical system network theorises this process.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

David Rose On Relations As Meaning

David Rose 22:37 17/2/14 to sys-func:
My view is the elaborate relational theory of meaning that has been developed in SFL, building on Saussure, Firth, Malinowski, Hjelmslev etc. One type of relation is valeur between features in systems, another is between these features and their structural realisations, another between these realisations and instantiations in text, another between unfolding structures in texts. These sets of relations are cycled through relations between functions and classes at each rank, and each stratum of language and social context. Meaning can't be taken out of these relations and defined as in a dictionary, the relations are the meanings.

Blogger Comments:

[1] A less confusing way to put this is: the valeur of a feature in a system is its relations to other features; the set of oppositions it contrasts with.  It is the feature that carries valeur.  The advantage of using the term 'valeur' is that it pinpoints a precise definition that would be obscured by the general term 'meaning'.  It also avoids the confusion that would arise in speaking of the "meaning" of a phonological feature such as [stop] or [velar].

[2] The relation between systems and structures is not "meaning", it is realisation: a relation between different levels of abstraction; e.g. the relation between syllable systems and syllable structures is not "meaning", it is the realisational relation between the paradigmatic and syntagmatic axes.

[3] To the extent to which this is coherent, the relation between 'structural realisations' and 'instantiations in text' is not "meaning", it is realisation as in [2]: i.e. the relation between  the paradigmatic — (instance of) the system — and syntagmatic axes.

[4] As [1,2,3] demonstrate, Rose's view is not that which has developed in SFL, just a misconstrual of it that fosters confusion.

Monday, 17 February 2014

David Rose On Meaning

At 13:17 on 17/2/14 David Rose to sys-func:
My point was similar, that 'the SFL model of grammar differs sharply from the traditional (formal) model of syntax' (which you've usefully discussed). To elaborate slightly, meaning is not simply a token/value relation between strata of 'wording' and 'meaning', but is construed through multiple relations of abstraction and generality within and between each stratum.
A model of lg content plane stratified into 'wording' and 'meaning' seems to me intermediate, both theoretically and historically, between the bricks-&-mortar model and the (post-60s) SFL model. It resembles Hjelmslev's 'content substance/content form' duality.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Rose's partial construal of meaning as "a token/value relation" between strata of 'wording' and 'meaning' is logically incoherent.  Compare: X is a relation between Y and X.

[2] The stratification of the content plane into wording and meaning is the "(post-60s) SFL model" — see Halliday (1985, 1994) and Halliday & Matthiessen (1999, 2004) — so it is logically incoherent to construe it as intermediate between itself and another model.  Compare: Z is intermediate between Y and Z.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

David Rose On All Strata As Meaning

David Rose at 22:57 on 15/2/14 wrote to sys-func:
The SFL model is more elaborate, and further from the folk model... within each stratum, meaning is construed in relations between 1) systemic potentials and their structural instantiations, 2) functions and classes at each rank, and 3) unfolding structures (e.g. Subject^Finite). Within the grammar, clause rank functions like Actor, Process, Location are realised by classes of groups and phrases, and group rank functions like Deictic, Epithet, Thing are realised by classes of words, etc. The function labels denote types of meanings, whose valeur is mapped in relation to other functions, as systems at each rank. 
So the SFL model of grammar differs sharply from the traditional (formal) model of syntax, in that grammar is modelled as intrinsically meaningful. There seems a contradiction between this elaborate relational theory of meaning in SFL, and the synonymous term 'semantic' applied to just one stratum
As far as I can make out, we think not only in wordings and soundings (as you, Bill, Brad and Phil have suggested), but in discourse (as you imply here). I'd never argue that the content plane of lg is not stratified, but that each of these strata contributes a distinct layer of meanings to the whole.

Blogger Comments:

[1]  Here Rose makes his usual error of mistaking semogenesis (making meaning) for stratification (meaning as a level of symbolic abstraction), and ascribing 'meaning' to all strata — thereby nullifying the theoretical function of stratification.  Clearly, when Rose uses the wording 'meaning', he is expressing the meaning 'language'.  This can be demonstrated by paraphrasing his last clause as: each of these strata contributes a distinct layer of language to the whole — where his wording 'distinct layer' has the meaning 'level of symbolic abstraction'.  (Note that 'distinct layer' invites a misconstrual of 'stratum', as on the geological model.)

[2]  Rose again mistakes the relation between system and structure as instantiation instead of realisation.  The difference between instantiation and realisation can be characterised by the two kinds of relational process: instantiation is an attributive relation, whereas realisation is an identifying relation (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 14-5, 145).  Where realisation is a relation between a lower level of abstraction (Token) and a higher level (Value), instantiation is a class membership relation between a specimen (Carrier) and a species (Attribute); between a token and a type.  Clearly, a structure is not a specimen of 'system'; a structure is not a member of the class 'system'.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Halliday On Wording As 'Twice Cooked' Content

Halliday (1992: 23-5): 
The result [of the "explosion" into language] is a semiotic of a new kind: a stratified, tristratal system in which meaning is 'twice cooked', thus incorporating a stratum of 'pure' content form. It is natural to represent this, as I have usually done myself, as 'meaning realised by wording, which is in turn realised by sound'. But it is also rather seriously misleading. If we follow Lemke's lead, interpreting language as a dynamic open system, we can arrive at a theoretically more accurate and more powerful account. Here the key concept is Lemke's principle of metaredundancy. 
Consider a minimal semiotic system, such as a protolanguage — a system that is made up of simple signs. This is based on the principle of redundancy. When we say that contents p, q, r are "realised" respectively by expressions a, b, c, what this means is that there is a redundancy relation between them: given meaning p, we can predict sound or gesture a, and given sound or gesture a we can predict meaning p. This relationship is symmetrical; "redounds with" is equivalent both to "realises" and to "is realised by".
Let us now expand this into a non-minimal semiotic, one that is tri- rather than bi-stratal. The expressions a, b, c now realise WORDINGS l, m, n, while the wordings l, m, n realise MEANINGS p, q, r. In terms of redundancy, however, these are not two separate dyadic relationships. Rather, there is a METAredundancy such that p, q, r redounds not with l, m, n but with the redundancy of l, m, n with a, b, c; thus:
l, m, n ( a, b, c                                    p, q, r ( (l, m, n ( a, b, c)
Why has it to be like this? Because there is not, in fact, a chain of dyadic relationships running through the system. (If there was, we would not need the extra stratum.) It is not the case, in other words, that p ( l and l ( a.   p, q, r is realised by l, m, n; but the system at l, m, n is sorted out again for realisation by a, b, c, so that what p, q, r is actually realised by is the realisation of l, m, n by a, b, c.  This is the fundamental distinction between redundancy and causality. If realisation was a causal relation, then it would chain: l is caused by a and p is caused by l - it would make no sense to say "p is caused by the causing of l by a". But realisation is not a causal relation; it is a redundancy relation, so that p redounds with the redundancy of l with a. To put it in more familiar terms, it is not that (i) meaning is realised by wording and wording is realised by sound, but that (ii) meaning is realised by the realisation of wording in sound.
We can of course reverse the direction, and say that sounding realises the realisation of meaning in wording:
p, q, r ( l, m, n                                    (p, q, r ( l, m, n) ( a, b, c
For the purpose of phonological theory this is in fact the appropriate perspective, But for the purposes of construing the 'higher' levels, with language as connotative semiotic realising other semiotic systems of the culture, we need the first perspective. Thus when we extend 'upwards' to the context of situation, we can say that the context of situation s, t, u redounds with the redundancy of the discourse semantics p, q, r with the redundancy of the lexicogrammar l, m, n with the phonology a, b, c. Thus:
s, t , u ( (p, q, r, ( (l, m, n ( a, b, c))
Once the original protolinguistic redundancy has been transformed into metaredundancy in this way, the relation becomes an iterative one and so opens up the possibilities for construing, not only the context of situation, but also higher levels such as Hasan’s symbolic articulation and theme in verbal art, or Martin's strata of genre and ideology.
The metaredundancy notion thus formalises the stratal principle in semogenesis. What makes meaning indefinitely extendable is the evolutionary change from protolanguage to language — whereby instead of a simple plane with two interfaces to the material (the phenomenal), we have constructed a semiotic SPACE, a three-dimensional (potentially n-dimensional) system in which there is a purely symbolic mode of being between these two interfaces. It is this that we call grammar, or more explicitly lexicogrammar. Without this semiotic space, situated in the transduction from one purely symbolic mode to another, and hence not constrained by the need to interface directly with the phenomenal, we could not have a metafunctional organisation in the grammar, and we could not have the phenomenon of grammatical metaphor.
The metaredundancy theory explains the 'stratal' organisation of language, and the semiotic principle of realisation. It explains them synoptically: by treating realisation as a relation.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

David Rose Confusing 'Inner Speech' With How The Grammar Construes Projection

At 15:42 on 13/2/14, David Rose wrote to sys-func:
Vygotsky tells that we think in 'inner speech', that develops from children thinking aloud… 'Egocentric speech, splintered off from general social speech, in time leads to inner speech, which serves both autistic and logical thinking.'
Vygotsky rejects the notion that thought is wordless... 'thought is born through words. A word devoid of thought is a dead thing; and a thought unembodied in words remains a shadow.' 
He even outlines the structural characteristics of inner speech... 'With syntax and sound reduced to a minimum, meaning is more than ever in the forefront. Inner speech works with semantics, not phonetics.' 
An SFL interpretation of this could be that inner speech is primarily lexical, less interpersonalised and less textualised than articulated 'social speech'. This seems consistent with my own introspective impressions. Is it with yours? 
Now grammatically, reported ideas are obviously at once wordings and meanings, as are quoted locutions, but the latter quote articulated speech, while the former report inner speech. 
Perhaps when we are consciously writing, we might get the impression that 'a phenomenon of experience is construed first as a meaning and then in turn as a wording', but in spontaneous speech - inner or outer - meanings and wordings are simultaneous (one and the same thing)
Again may I ask if anyone can suggest evidence from the grammar that shows otherwise?

Blogger Comments:

[1] Grammatically, reported ideas are presented as meanings, since how the meanings are actually worded is not presented; whereas quoted locutions are presented as wordings: those used to realise meanings.

[2] On the stratification model, meanings and wordings, semantics and lexicogrammar, are not 'the same thing' but two angles on 'the same thing', differing in terms of level of symbolic abstraction.

David Rose On The Projection Of Meaning And Wording

David Rose 18:17 to sys-func:
What Im asking is for help in seeing blindspots in my own reasoning 
E.g. my interpretation of 'Meaning is construed in the linguistic system as a whole' is that meaning is construed in relations between systemic potentials and instantiated structures at all ranks and strata of the linguistic system
From that perspective, restricting 'meaning' to one stratum and 'wording' to another sounds more like the folk model, as in 'what's that (word) mean?' or 'can you say that (meaning) in other words?' 
Similarly, construing hypotactic ideas as 'meaning' vs paratactic locutions as 'wording' resembles the folk model in which thoughts pre-exist the words that express them
This model is repeated throughout IFG3 section 7.5 on projection, with analogues from the folk model, such as cartoons, as in Fig 7-20. As far as I can see, none of the description of the grammar of projection depends on this model (the description of 'Reporting speech, quoting thought' explicitly contradicts it), but the model appears to have the same status of linguistic fact as the grammatical description
My difficulty is that I can't see the evidence in the grammar that 'in the case of a wording, where a phenomenon of experience is construed first as a meaning and then in turn as a wording'... that 'A wording is, as it were, twice cooked.' (p451) 
Can anyone else?

Blogger Comments:

Blindspot [1] is more in theoretical understanding, than reasoning. In the technical sense, there are no "instantiated structures". Instantiation is a relation between the system of potential and an instance of a system (i.e. actualised feature selections and realisation statements of a system of potential). Axially, a system is paradigmatic, a structure is syntagmatic.  The relation between system and structure is realisation, not instantiation, as explained previously here here and here.

Blindspot [2] is, again, more in theoretical understanding, than reasoning. The theoretical purpose of the stratification hierarchy is to parcel out the complexity of language into different orders of symbolic abstraction.  The strata, as different levels of abstraction, are different angles, or vantage points, on a single phenomenon (language).  They are not, for example, analogous to geological strata; they are not modules.

Blindspot [3] is, again, more in theoretical understanding, than reasoning. As levels of symbolic abstraction, strata are not ordered in time: higher strata do not precede lower strata.  The relation between strata, realisation, as the term 'realise' suggests, is an intensive identifying relation; it is not a temporal circumstantial identifying relation.

Blindspot [4] is as much in reasoning as in theoretical understanding. Halliday and Matthiessen's discussion of 'Reporting Speech, Quoting Thought' (2004: 453-7) does indeed contradict Rose's misreading that the level of projected content, meaning or wording, depends on the mode of projection, hypotactic or paratactic, rather than the level of projection, sensing or saying. This would have led most other readers to question their own grasp of the material.  (In reporting speech, a wording is presented as a meaning (op cit: 453), and in quoting thought, a meaning is presented as a wording (op cit: 456).

Blindspot [5] is more in epistemological understanding, than reasoning. Linguistic 'facts' are the data that are modelled, not the models themselves.  For example, in biology, the Theory of Natural Selection is not a fact; the data of evolution are the facts and the theory is an attempt to account for them.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

David Rose On The Projection Of Content

David Rose wrote on sys-func on 11 February 2014 at 13:38:
Christian's reasoning in this paper makes much of the contrasting tendency for hypotactic projection of mental processes vs paratactic projection of verbal processes. This is reconstrued as sensing projecting 'meaning' vs saying projecting 'wording', which are them mapped diagrammatically onto language strata as meaning realised by wording. 
Christian sees this as highly significant... 'the differentiation between the projection of ideas and locutions has evolved to reflect and reveal a fundamental aspect of the stratal organization of language', and uses it to support a stratal model of meaning realised by wording that later emerges as a theoretical model for H & M's Construing Experience through Meaning. 
My difficulty is that both paratactic and hypotactic projections involve both meaning and wording. There is no meaning without wording and vice versa. The difference between these types of projection cannot be meaning vs wording, but perhaps 'rewording', as in direct v indirect speech. 
Furthermore the characterisation of content strata as meaning vs wording seems to conflict with Christian's statement that 'Meaning is construed in the linguistic system as a whole - in the sense that language is a meaning-making system' (p 197). 
Christian argues cogently that cognitive science 'is basically an elaborate variety of a folk model'. But it seems to me that a model of language as 'meaning expressed by wording expressed by sounding' also appears to be an elaboration of a folk model, that contains multiple contradictions.
Blogger Comments:

[1] The defining factor as to whether meaning or wording is projected is whether the projecting figure is one of sensing or saying ('level of projection'), not whether the interdependency relation is paratactic or hypotactic ('mode of projection').  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 443):
Through projection, one clause is set up as the representation of the linguistic “content” of another — either the content of a ‘verbal’ clause of saying or the content of a ‘mental’ clause of sensing. … There are thus two kinds of projections.  On the one hand, the projection may be a representation of the content of a ‘mental’ clause — what is thought; we call such projections ideas.  On the other hand, the projection may be a representation of the content of a ‘verbal’ clause — what is said; we call such projections locutions.  Projection may thus involve either of the two levels of the content plane of language — projection of meaning (ideas) or projection of wording (locutions).
The mode of projection, quoting vs reporting, is concerned with orders of experience, first vs second. For a semantic angle on this, see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 111).

For the reasons why quoting locutions and reporting ideas are the natural default condition, see Halliday & Matthiessen (ibid.).

[2] The meaning vs wording distinction is one of symbolic abstraction, the organising principle behind the stratification hierarchy.  Meaning in the general sense of language as a meaning-making system refers to semogenesis, not stratification. This is a distinction Rose clearly cannot grasp, since he keeps making the very same mistake over and over again, as demonstrated here here and here on these pages.

[3] Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 599-601) outline an extension of the (evolved) folk model that could be used to enrich the (designed) scientific model.

[4] Any "multiple contradictions" in the stratification hierarchy are least likely to be found by someone who does/will/can not understand the model.

But what's particularly disturbing about Rose's misunderstanding is the utter contempt he obviously has for the intellectual ability of Halliday and Matthiessen, in imagining them to have made such a simple-minded blunder.  As Conan Doyle observed:
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognises genius.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Halliday & Matthiessen On The Concept Of 'Mind'

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603):
… the concept of ‘mind’ should be brought into close relation with other phenomena — biological, social, or semiotic. … But once this has been done, the mind itself tends to disappear; it is no longer necessary as a construct sui generis. Instead of experience being construed by the mind, in the form of knowledge, we can say that experience is construed by the grammar; to ‘know’ something is to have transformed some portion of experience into meaning. To adopt this perspective is to theorise “cognitive processes” in terms of semiotic, social and biological systems; and thus to see them as a natural concomitant of the processes of evolution.
See more quotes here and all quotes on the mind from Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) here.