Monday, 30 June 2014

Robin Fawcett On Why Hypotaxis Is Unnecessary

Robin Fawcett wrote to the sysfling list on 30 June 2014 at 09:57:
Just consider the concept of Hypotaxis" for a moment. It models a relationship between, let us say, two clauses, such that one clause is said to be "dependent" on another, but without functioning as an element of it - so without "filling`' it, in Cardiff Grammar terms.

An IFG analysis of "She knows his name" would show that "his name" is a nominal group that fills a Complement/Phenomenon, whereas an analysis of "She knows that he is called Peter" would show "that he is called Peter" as a clause that would be said to be "dependent on" the "main" clause but without filling an element of it. But that misses out a central aspect of the functional analysis. i.e. that "that he is called Peter"Is a Phenomenon in the Process of "someone knowing something". Moreover, this analysis asks us to accept that "She knows" is a main clause. I find that a rather unpersuasive position to take, because we recognize it - don't we? - as an incomplete clause that requires its Complement/ Phenomenon to complete it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] In the case of mental projection, the distinction between embedded clauses and dependent clauses is a very useful and important one.  It is the distinction between a pre-projected fact (embedded clause) and a reported idea (dependent clause).  It is the distinction between a metaphenomenon that is the Range or Agent of the mental Process (embedded clause) and a metaphenomenon that is projected into semiotic existence by the mental Process.  See sample analyses here, and Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 441-482).

However, contrary to claim made by Fawcett, an IFG analysis of She knows that he is called Peter would not
"show "that he is called Peter" as a clause that would be said to be "dependent on" the "main" clause but without filling an element of it".  
The clause that he is called Peter is here an embedded fact, not a dependent clause — She knows (the fact) that he is called Peter — and as such, functions as the Phenomenon of the clause, thereby "filling an element" or "completing the clause" in Fawcett's terms.  See analysis  here.  Cf agnate receptive clause: (the fact) that he is called Peter is known by/to her; agnate theme predication clause: it is (the fact) that he is called Peter that she knows.

In other words, Fawcett has misunderstood and misrepresented the IFG analysis of this clause and then "argued" against his own misunderstanding/misrepresentation in favour of the default SFL analysis.

[2] Unlike Halliday & Matthiessen (2004), Fawcett provides no actual reasoned grammatical argumentation for his unintentional agreement with them, merely:
… the central aspect of the functional analysis …
I find that a rather unpersuasive position to take …
… we recognise it — don't we? — as …
This might be compared to what Fawcett wrote on the Sysfling list at 02:32:43 (GMT) on 9/1/12:
Not all readers will be comfortable with my next point, which is that I suggest that contributions to sysfling that relate to how a given piece of text should be analysed should be expressed in the framework of the assumption that we are scientists of language, i.e. scholars who are seeking, using scientific methods appropriate to our subject of investigation, to understand the nature of language. But this means that we should regard it as inadequate to simply say "I would analyse Text X as follows: ....", without giving reasons for preferring that analysis to others that might be proposed.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

David Rose On Theme

David Rose wrote to the Sysfling list on 24 June 2014 at 21:07:
If theme is a clause rank system, whose textual function is point of departure for a message, and a message is realised by a finite ranking clause +/- dependent clauses, and an unmarked Theme is realised (in English) by the Subject of a clause, then a prepositional phrase or dependent clause preceding the Subject of the primary clause functions textually as a marked Theme of the message (if the duke gives anything to my aunt, it'll be that teapot; from the duke, my aunt received a teapot). An embedded (downranked) clause may function as Subject (what the duke gave my aunt was that teapot). (IFG editions notwithstanding:)

Blogger Comment:

Themes may be unmarked or marked, but not both; i.e. marked^unmarked is not a structural configuration of (topical) Theme.  When a marked Theme — Adjunct or Complement — is chosen in a declarative clause, the Subject does not function as (unmarked) Theme.  For example:

from the duke
my aunt
a teapot