Saturday, 20 February 2016

David Rose Promoting Jim Martin's Misconstrual Of Context As Register (inter alia)

After Shooshi Dreyfus posted the following analysis to sysfling and sys-func on 19 February 2016 at 11:12 in which she asked about the final prepositional phrase:
an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels
Process: attributive
and Jing Fang offered the following analysis on sys-func at 11:55:

to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels

This is a great example of complementarity of grammar and discourse semantics in construing register
In field, ‘metal' and 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels' are construed as members of a more general class (of what I have no idea). This classification is construed in discourse semantics by relating these lexical items as co-hyponyms. This relation is construed in the grammar 1) at clause rank by configuring ‘metal' as Carrier and the relation itself as a classifying Attribute ‘an alternative’ 2) at group rank by embedding 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ as a Qualifier of ‘an alternative’.
In tenor, the usage of metal is explicitly negatively appreciated as ‘often-overlooked’, and this appraisal is configured in grammar as an Epithet of ‘an alternative’. This is why the relation is configured as Thing, so it can be evaluated non-negotiably with an Epithet. Secondly, 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ are positively appreciated as ‘energy-dense’, again configured as Epithet (perhaps explaining why they are preferred to metal). 
In mode, the textual function of all this metaphorical re-construal is to present ‘metal’ as the topic and ‘often-overlooked alternative’ as the point the writer is making.
We could also interpret the field implications of the lexical item ‘often-overlooked’, and of configuring 'liquid and gaseous solar fuels’ as a Location.

nice analysis.

Blogger Comments:

[1] By 'register' here, Rose means the SFL stratum of context (field, tenor and mode).  That is, he follows Martin in confusing the culture as a semiotic system (context) with a functional variety of language (register).  Martin's misunderstandings of register are explained here and his misunderstandings of context are explained here.  The misunderstanding is largely a confusion of stratification (context is more symbolically abstract that language) with instantiation (register is a subpotential of language).

[2] Here Rose confuses the ideational dimension of the context of situation (field) — which he misconstrues as register — with the ideational content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[3] Here Rose demonstrates that he doesn't understand the text, and that his analytical method provides him with no assistance.  In the lexicogrammar, on an attributive reading of the clause metals are construed as members of the class an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels

For the reason pointed out by Tom Bartlett, the clause can also be read as identifying. On an identifying reading, metals are identified as (an example of) an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.

[4] In SFL theory, hyponymic relations are modelled as lexical cohesion, which along with grammatical cohesion, is a non-structural resource of the textual metafunction.  As the words 'lexical' and 'grammatical' imply, cohesion is a system located on the lexicogrammatical stratum.  The model Rose is promoting here is Martin's experiential discourse semantic system, (inconsistently) named ideation.  As demonstrated here, this model of experiential semantics is mainly a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar, and logical relations between elements of clause structure, mostly misapplied.

[5] At clause rank in the grammar, the relation is realised, appropriately enough, by the relational process.  On the attributive reading, a relation of intensive attribution obtains between the Carrier metals and the Attribute an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  On the identifying reading, a relation of intensive identity obtains between the Identified Token metals and the Identifier Value an often-overlooked alternative to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  On both readings, the logical relation between the participants, as realised by the Process, is one of elaboration.

[6] At group rank in the grammar, the Thing alternative is qualified by to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels.  Semantically, alternative is itself a quality of extension (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 211), as Jing Fang (more or less) pointed out.

[7] Here Rose confuses the interpersonal dimension of the context of situation (tenor) — which he misconstrues as register — with the interpersonal content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[8] Here Rose mistakes a Classifier for an Epithet.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 320):
Classifiers do not accept degrees of comparison or intensity … and they tend to be organised in mutually exclusive and exhaustive sets …
[9] Here Rose confuses the textual dimension of the context of situation (mode) — which he misconstrues as register — with the textual content of the text that realises the context of situation.

[10] Here Rose relocates Martin's discourse semantic system of 'point' into the context of situation (mode) — which he misconstrues as register.  In SFL theory, the issue here is one of information distribution.  The lexical density of the Complement suggests that the clause is likely to be co-extensive with (at least) two information units, with the first focus of New information on alternative and another on solar fuels.

[11] Here Rose misconstrues the Qualifier to energy-dense liquid and gaseous solar fuels as a Location, presumably on the basis of the minor Process to.  On the other hand, the field implications of the "lexical item" ‘often-overlooked’ may forever remain a mystery, at least to this reader of the single-clause text.

For the benefit of those who don't understand what goes on in the Sydney SFL community — which appears to be most of the people in it — normally Rose uses any grammar question on the email lists as an excuse to promote Martin's discourse semantics.  However, here he is using a grammar question as an excuse to promote Martin's "register".

The reason for Rose's switch to promoting Martin's "register", on this occasion, is in order to help endorse Martin's claim, made two days before, at the symposium to honour the late Ruqaiya Hasan, that the model she used is flawed and that, therefore, everyone should be using his model instead. A recording of the session in which Martin misrepresented the deceased can be heard here.

Friday, 12 February 2016

David Rose Following Jim Martin In Confusing Description With Theory

Responding to a post by Annabelle Lukin, David Rose wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 11 February 2016 at 07:24:
Great point 
The theory is SFL 
Appraisal is an SFL description, alongside other discourse semantic systems 
The description of appraisal filled a void that is not accounted for in grammar, so lots of people have adopted it without recognising other discourse semantic systems, hence ‘appraisal theory’
We don’t talk about ‘transitivity theory’. Many imagine that transitivity is sufficient to account for experiential meaning, that tabulating process types describes what a text means. They can't see the void.

Blogger Comments:

Given Martin's dichotomy of theory versus description*, the systems of appraisal are not description; they are part of SFL linguistic theory.  Description is what theory affords. Theory provides the potential for describing (construing) phenomena — in its terms.  

The distinction can be understood in terms of instantiation.  Just as texts are linguistic instances of linguistic potential, descriptions of language are metalinguistic instances of metalinguistic potential.  Linguistic theories like appraisal are metalinguistic potential: the potential for 'languaging' about language, texts about texts.

Moreover, it is the system networks that constitute the (metalinguistic) hypotheses, generated by the theoretical assumptions, to be tested against data descriptions (metalinguistic instances).  See Butt (2000) on the system network as a form of argumentation.

In any case, the term 'appraisal theory' originates from Martin and White (2005: xi, 6, 29) — in which publication can also be found the term 'register and genre theory' (p24).

And, interestingly, although Martin does not regard appraisal theory as a theory, he does regard editorials as theoretical texts.  Martin (1992: 518):
Genre-structured texts are divided into those which review field-structured texts (e.g. movie reviews), and so are partially determined by their activity sequences, and theoretical texts which are not organised around a sequence of events in any respect (e.g. editorials).

[2] In SFL theory, linguistic content is viewed from two perspectives: two levels of symbolic abstraction.  The higher level is meaning (semantics), the lower level is wording (lexicogrammar).  In the absence of grammatical metaphor, the two perspectives are in agreement (congruent).  This stratification means that systems of linguistic content can be viewed from either perspective.  Halliday (2008: 49) provides the view of appraisal from the perspective of lexicogrammar:
Some interpersonal meanings are highly generalised, like the enactment of dialogic rôles (speech function) … .  With options in the way something is evaluated (“I approve / I disapprove”), or contended (“I agree / I disagree”), the borderline between grammar and lexis is shaded over; systems of appraisal, as described by Martin & White (2005), represent more delicate (more highly differentiated) options within the general region of evaluation.
On the appraisal system of attitude, Halliday (2008: 179) writes:
This is a grammatical system that is realised by a selection of lexical items. Each such item is uniquely identified as a set of intersecting grammatical features; eg complicated is
appraisal: attitude: appreciation: composition: ( complexity : complex /  polarity: negative …)
as well as other general grammatical features (e.g. as distinct from confusing, which is “effective”, as in it confuses mecomplicated is “descriptive”).  Note that I am interpreting the feature "undesirable" (the "snarl" member of the "purr/snarl" opposition) as negative in the environment of the interpersonal.
But it is important to understand that it is the lexicogrammar that makes the type of semantics that language has possible — as demonstrated by the limitations of semiotic systems without stratified content.  As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512) put it, it is the grammar that construes 'semantic space': 
In all these metafunctions, the language does not take over and reproduce some readymade semantic space. There is no such space until the grammar comes along to construe it.
[3] This is misleading.  See the two Halliday (2008) quotes above in [2] or at The Thought Occurs.

[4] Reasons for 'adopting' appraisal theory include the facts that it is very easy to use with very little linguistic knowledge — it can stand independently of SFL, let alone discourse semantics — and that it pays huge dividends for very little investment, as exemplified here.

[5] This is the motivation for misrepresenting appraisal as description rather than theory: its use without the recognition of its inclusion within discourse semantic systems.  For critiques of discourse semantic systems, see here.

[6] The systems of 'transitivity', within the grammatics, are part of SFL theory.  They are metalinguistic potential.  See [1].  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514) are quite clear on the matter:
This part of the grammar, then — the grammar of clauses — , constitutes a theory about the types of process that make up human experience.

[7] This is the logical fallacy known as the straw man fallacy — an argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument which was not advanced by that opponent.

It also exemplifies the form of argument termed 'polemic' (which Jim Martin warned us about on the sysfling list on 8/1/16, by means of a quote from Foucault).
polemic is a contentious argument that is intended to support a specific position via attacks on a contrary position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist or a polemic. The word is derived from Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning "warlike, hostile", from πόλεμος (polemos), meaning "war". 
Along with debate, polemics are one of the most common forms of arguing. Similar to debate, a polemic is confined to a definite thesis. But unlike debate, which may allow for common ground between the two disputants, a polemic is intended only to affirm one point of view while refuting the opposing point of view.
See Foucault's polemic against polemics here.

* For Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55), a description is an account of a particular language, whereas a theory is an account of language in general.  On this view, also, Appraisal is a theory of language.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

David Rose Promoting Misunderstandings Of SFL Theory

It seems to me that transitivity and ideation (lexical relations) are complementary resources for realising register. They make different kinds of generalisations about experience that both need to be captured in text analysis to interpret what it’s saying. Ideational metaphor is a particular type that makes this complementarity obvious. What’s more, neither transitivity nor ideation define lexical items, just relations between them. Recognising the relations depends on intuitive recognition of the lexical items that instantiate them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] By 'ideation', Rose means the experiential discourse semantic system in Martin (1992); see the many critiques here.  By 'register' Rose means the misconstrual of context as register in Martin (1992); see the many critiques here.

[2] As the critiques on Discourse Semantic Theory demonstrate, Martin's experiential discourse semantic system of ideation is a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar (delicacy) and logical relations between elements of clause structure (mostly misapplied).  As the critiques also demonstrate, Martin's model also misconstrues some ideational semantics as field.

On his model, Martin (1992: 325) writes:
The level of discourse semantics is the least differentiated as far as ideational meaning is concerned. This is mainly due to the fact that the description developed here has focussed on relationships between experiential meanings, rather than the experiential meanings themselves.

[3] Martin (1992) misunderstands and misrecognises grammatical metaphor, interpreting it largely in terms of the transcategorisation of elements through nominalisation.  Evidence here.  Moreover, the discourse semantic systems of ideation (experiential) and conjunction (logical) don't provide the means of determining congruent realisations from metaphorical realisations of the semantics in the grammar.  The system of conjunction is a confusion of textual (non-structural cohesion) and logical (structural) deployments of expansion relations, and largely misinterprets the expansion categories.  Evidence here.

[4] In SFL theory, lexical items are the synthetic output of the most delicate grammar.  That is, they are the output of increasingly more delicate subcategorisations of grammatical systems, such as process type and the rest.  A phonological analogue of this is the phoneme /p/ being the synthetic output of features from the systems of phonation, place, manner: [voiceless], [bilabial], [stop].

[5] This misunderstanding arises from the confusion in Martin's (1992) experiential discourse system of ideation between lexical cohesive relations (hyponymy etc.) and lexis as most delicate grammar, both subsumed there under 'lexical relations'.

[6] This misunderstands the architecture of SFL theory.  Defining is an identifying relation.  Identifying relations obtain between different levels of abstraction, such between strata or between system and structure.  On the other hand, the dimension of delicacy is structured by the attributive relation: i.e. class membership; more delicate features are members (carriers) of less delicate classes (attributes).  Lexical items are the output of attributive relations, and the question of identifying (defining) relations is irrelevant.

[7] The claim here is that recognising the relations between lexical items depends on intuitive recognition of the lexical items that "instantiate" the relations between lexical items.

Again, this misunderstanding arises from the confusion in Martin's (1992) experiential discourse system of ideation between lexical cohesive relations and lexis as most delicate grammar.  The relations of lexical cohesion — such as hyponymy, meronymy, synonymy and repetition — are mistaken for systemic relations between lexical items as the output of the most delicate grammatical systems.

Note, also, the illogicality of the claim that lexical items instantiate the relations between lexical items.

For Rose's misunderstanding and misuse of the notion of instantiation, see here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

David Rose Confusing Grammar With Lexis And Context With Register

Shooshi Dreyfus wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 10 February 2016 at 7:48:
Yeah the ones with grammatical metaphor like this are proving to be the most tricky!

One reason they [clauses with grammatical metaphor] are tricky is that what’s being classified are lexical items. We are still unable to say what a lexical item is. We call these items ‘verbs’, but a verb is a structural unit in grammar. A glance at a dictionary tells us that most lexical items can be realised as various word classes. Grammatical metaphor increases this potential. 
Relations between lexical items and grammatical units like ‘verb’ are really probabilistic, depending on register variables. So interpreting the ‘meaning’ or ‘sense’ of items really has to start with register. Hence the dictionary definitions in Eugeniu Costetchi’s word lists, or David Banks’ ‘conceptual’ analyses. This fact is problematic for models that would like to subsume lexical items within grammatical categories like process types, as though they were register neutral. … 
PS By register variables I mean field/tenor/mode

Blogger Comments:

[1] One thing that makes transitivity analysis, in general, difficult is not taking a trinocular perspective — the perspective on which SFG was theorised.  One thing that makes transitivity analysis difficult, in the specific case of grammatical metaphor, is not unpacking the metaphor, at least enough to see the junction of meanings being construed by the metaphor.  See, for example, Metaphor As Junctional Construct and Grammatical Metaphor: A Junction Of Perspectives.

[2] Despite being unable to say what a lexical item is, Rose is able to say that lists of verbs that can serve as specific process types are classifications of lexical items.

[3] As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568) point out:
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical [lexical item] and one grammatical [word rank].
When we are talking about words that can serve as a process type, we are talking about the grammatical abstraction, not the lexical.  Rose follows Martin (1992) in confusing these two abstractions, as demonstrated in the critiques Misconstruing The Difference Between Lexical Item And Grammatical Word and Confusing Lexis With Grammar

[4] A verb is not 'a structural unit in the grammar'.  A verb is a classification of form at the rank of word, just as a verbal group is a classification of form at the rank of group/phrase.

[5] The relations between verbs and lexical items are mapped out by the architecture of the theory. For example, verbs are related to processes by a chain of realisation along the rank scale, and processes are related to lexical items in terms of delicacy.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 198-9):
… we can differentiate both processes and participants into finer and finer subcategories, until we reach a degree of differentiation that is associated with the choice of words (lexical items). Note that it is not (usually) the lexical items themselves that figure as terms of the systems in the network. Rather, the systems are systems of features, and the lexical items come in as the synthetic realisation of particular feature combinations.
[6] Here Rose follows Martin (1992) in confusing context with register; see some of the critiques here. In SFL, context refers to the culture as a semiotic system whose expression plane is language.  Context is more abstract than language.  Language realises context.  Register, on the other hand, is a functional variety of language.  It is not more abstract than language, it is language.  Whereas context is a level in the stratification hierarchy, register is a point (of variation) on the cline of instantiation between language as potential (system) and language as instance (text).

[7] The so-called 'conceptual' analysis is the view of transitivity 'from above' — that is, viewing the wording in terms of the meaning it realises.

[8] The model that 'subsumes lexical items within grammatical categories like process types' is called Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory.  This subsumption is the systemic dimension termed 'delicacy'; see [5] above.  Registerial variation according to context is modelled in SFL in terms instantiation and stratification: in terms of different situation types being realised by different registers.

[9] The notion of 'register neutral' comes from Martin (1992: 289) and is based on misunderstandings of Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory, as demonstrated, for example, in the critique Relocating Lexis Outside Language.