Thursday, 7 December 2017

David Rose "In A Nutshell" [Part 2]

We can often categorise lexical items according to grammar or discourse patterns they tend to instantiate (as Michael and Christian like to do in IFG). But these categories are only one dimension of their meaning. Their more specific meanings can only be described in terms of register systems (the function of dictionary and thesaurus). So my instinct is to locate them at the level of register. This is hard to conceptualise because they only manifest as wordings, so we usually talk about them as if they are words. But the items themselves are meanings (at register level), that are realised in language as wordings. In text, they co-instantiate with grammar and discourse features to construe patterns of register. These probabilistic co-instantantions may be the basis of much linguistic description. 
in a nutshell

Blogger Comments:

[1] The claim here is that lexical items are categorised according to grammar or discourse patterns.  This is inconsistent with Halliday & Matthiessen (2004, 2014).  In SFL theory, lexical items are specified by bundles of the most delicate features of the systems of lexicogrammar.  The relation between a bundle of such features and a lexical item is symbolic identity: the more abstract Value (feature bundle) is realised by the less abstract Token (lexical item).

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, lexical items realise meaning.  That is, wording (lexicogrammar) is construed as a lower level of symbolic abstraction than meaning (semantics).

[3] Rose's argument can be characterised as follows:
Premiss: (reason) the more specific meanings of lexical items — as provided by dictionary and thesaurus — can only be described in terms of register systems.
Conclusion: (result) lexical items are located at the level of register.
Ignoring the theoretical misunderstandings for the moment, the argument itself is an instance of circular reasoning, in this case: the logical fallacy known as begging the question (petitio principii): providing what is essentially the conclusion of the argument as a premiss.  Moreover, the premiss itself is a bare assertion, unsupported by reasoned argument.

Turning to the theoretical misunderstandings, both the premiss and conclusion are inconsistent with the SFL architecture.  In the premiss, Rose does not recognise the stratal differentiation of a lexical item (lexicogrammar) and the meaning (semantics) that it realises.  In both the premiss and the conclusion, Rose misrepresents the SFL notion of register in terms of stratification (context vs language) and instantiation (system vs sub-system).

Stepping back a little, this is what Rose's previous three posts — in which he disingenuously described himself as "perhaps obtuse", "puzzled" and "generally puzzled" — have been leading to: his "instinct" to locate lexical items at the level of register.  Keeping in mind that, for Rose, register means "social context", which he distinguishes from language, his proposal is to locate lexical items outside language.

[4] As mentioned in a previous post, in SFL theory, 'lexical item' is one of two abstractions on the word, the other being a rank unit in the grammar.

[5] This is another bare assertion, made on the assumption that the previous circular reasoning, involving a bare assertion, has established it as true.  It contains the same theoretical confusions about lexical items and register that were identified in [3] above, with the addition of locating linguistic meaning at the level of context (characterised by Rose as 'social context', and misconstrued, following Martin (1992) as 'register').

[6] The claim here is that lexical items, at the level of social context, are realised in language as wordings.  This adds further to the previously identified theoretical inconsistencies by proposing a realisation relation between context and lexicogrammar, thereby skipping the intervening level of symbolic abstraction, semantics.

[7] The claim here is that lexical items are instantiated in text.  On Rose's model, lexical items are located in context, and as such, are not instances of language (text), but of social context, which Rose distinguishes from language.

[8] To be clear, in SFL theory, the relation between features co-selected across different strata is realisation.  On the model proposed by Rose, this means that lexical items (at the level of context) are realised by the realisation of discourse semantic features in lexicogrammatical features.  Here the notion of 'co-instantiation' helps to mask the fact that Rose has not accounted for the discourse semantic features that realise lexical items.

[9] To be clear, in SFL theory, the different probabilities of features being co-selected provide the quantitative means of differentiating registers — where registers are coherently construed: as sub-potentials of language.

[10] From Fawlty Towers (The Hotel Inspectors):
Mr Hutchinson: In a nutshell.
Basil Fawlty: Case, more like.
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more: a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

David Rose "In A Nutshell" [Part 1]

a different but hopefully complementary perspective. I’m interested in social context as a semiotic plane that is organised systemically and realised by language, including grammar and discourse systems. Grammar and discourse construe register (field/tenor/mode) in different ways, partly by configuring lexical items. Eg IDEATION configures items in taxonomies, figures and sequences, TRANSITIVITY in processes, participants and circumstances. Each of these contribute general types of patterns to unfolding construals of a field. Lexical items contribute more specific features of register. …
in a nutshell

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, 'context' means the culture construed as a semiotic system.  This is distinct from the material setting in which interlocutors create texts.  The context is realised by what the interlocutors say (and think).

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, taking metaredundancy into account, context is realised by the realisation of semantics (meaning) in lexicogrammar (wording).

[3] To be clear, in SFL theory, language construes context — where construes means intellectually constructs — and field tenor and mode are the metafunctional systems of context.

[4]  To be clear, in SFL theory, register means a functional variety of language, and it is modelled as a  language sub-potential of the content plane (semantics and lexicogrammar).  As sub-potentials of language, different registers realise different sub-potentials of context.  Thus, context and register differ in terms of stratification (context vs language) and instantiation (potential vs sub-potential).

Rose, on the other hand, confuses register with context (field, tenor and mode), and in doing so, misconstrues language as non-language (his "social context"). 

[5] To be clear, in SFL theory, lexical items are not configured.  What are configured are functions in structures, whereas lexical items are the synthetic realisation of the most delicate lexical systems.  

[6] The experiential discourse semantic system of IDEATION is from Martin (1992).  As demonstrated in great detail here, and summarised here, it is a confusion of lexical cohesion (textual metafunction), lexis as most delicate grammar, and misapplied logical relations.

[7] This is seriously misleading.  Figures and sequences are types of phenomenon in the ideational semantics of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 48ff).  They do not appear in Martin (1992), where 'activity sequences' —misunderstood from Barthes (1977) — are modelled as field (ideational context), which Martin misconstrues as register.

[8] To be clear, the system of TRANSITIVITY does not configure lexical items "in processes, participants and circumstances".  The system of TRANSITIVITY provides the potential for construing experience as a configuration of process, participants and circumstances.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 212, 213):
…experientially, the clause construes a quantum of change as a figure, or configuration of a process, participants involved in it and any attendant circumstances. …
The system of transitivity provides the lexicogrammatical resources for construing a quantum of change in the flow of events as a figure – as a configuration of elements centred on a process.
[9] Here Rose follows Martin (1992) in misconstruing ideational semantics (the meaning construed) during logogenesis as ideational context (the field of culture construed) — which Martin further misconstrues as a dimension of register.  For Martin's misunderstandings of context see here; for Martin's misunderstandings of register, see here.

[10] There is a sense in which the wording of this is consistent with SFL theory, even if it is not the meaning that Rose has in mind (see [Part 2]).  It is consistent in the sense that registers, in the SFL use of the term, differ in terms of the probabilities of systemic features being instantiated, and given that lexical items realise bundles of the most delicate features, the probabilities of these most delicate features being instantiated are the most delicate means of specifying different registers.
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:
In a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more: a nutshell.
Case, more like.

Read more:

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

David Rose "Generally Puzzled"

Personally I like co-instantiation for integrating instantiation with stratification 
Only problem I have with Ruquaiya’s [sic] "only lexical item capable of functioning” is absence of probability. Isn’t the item/structure relation probabilistic? I’d be happy with probabilities of co-instantiation of strike (back) with either middle material or 1-Role Process. 
I’m still interested in where people locate lexical items in the architecture. Ruqaiya was trying to prove they could be delicate grammatical options. 
generally puzzled

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, the process of instantiation is the selection of features and the activation of realisation statements (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 45) at the instance pole of the cline of instantiation in logogenesis (the unfolding of text).  This necessarily entails the co-selection of features that are related along the dimensions of the theory, including delicacy, rank and strata.  Martin's superfluous notion of "co-instantiation" is merely an acknowledgement that features are co-selected.  In terms of semogenesis, what matters is the relations between the selected features — the place of features in the system.  For some of Martin's misunderstandings of instantiation, see here.

[2] In SFL theory, the cline of instantiation and the stratification hierarchy are distinct dimensions, organised according to different principles: class membership and symbolic identity, respectively.  As distinct dimensions, they jointly define the theoretical spaces in the following matrix:

The notion of co-instantiation "integrating instantiation with stratification" thus demonstrates a misunderstanding of these dimensions and the relation between them.

[3] This confuses the specification of a lexical item by lexical features with the probability of the instantiation of those features.

[4] In SFL theory, at the system pole of the cline of instantiation, features in systems are said to have relative probabilities of being selected (instantiated).  At the midway point on the cline of instantiation, different registers differ by the different probabilities of features being selected.  At the instance pole of the cline of instantiation, texts differ by the different frequencies of selected features.

Rose's notion of an "item/structure relation" is nonsensical, as explained in a previous post here.

[5] Translating this into SFL theory, it becomes: the co-selection probabilities of the features that specify the lexical item 'strike back' and the clause rank features 'material' (PROCESS TYPE) and 'middle' (AGENCY) from the system network of TRANSITIVITY.  Again, following from [3] above, Rose confuses the specification of a lexical item by lexical features with the probability of the co-selection of those features with grammatical features.

[6] The way to find out where lexical items are in the theoretical architecture is to both read about the theory and learn from it.  For example, Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 198-9) are quite helpful in this regard:
The paradigmatic strategy … is typically associated with feature networks: that is, networks made up of systems of features, such that each lexical item (as the name of a thing) realises a certain combination of these features selected from different systems within the network — a particular clustering of systemic variables. … This resource, the construal of systematically related lexico-semantic sets, illustrates well the principle of “lexis as most delicate grammar”. …
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.  Thus lexis (vocabulary) is part of a unified lexicogrammar; there is no need to postulate a separate “lexicon” as a pre-existing entity on which the grammar is made to operate.

[7] This is misleading, since it misrepresents the following quote from Hasan (1987: 198):
In English, the only lexical item capable of functioning as the Event in a clause with the above selection expression is 'scatter'. 
Hasan was not "trying to prove" that lexical items "could be delicate grammatical options", as demonstrated by the fact that she distinguishes between 'lexical item' and the bundle of features ('selection expression') that the lexical item realises.

Monday, 4 December 2017

John Bateman Endorsing David Rose's Misunderstandings Of SFL

David Rose wrote:
But it's not just Gordon’s phrasing… it’s normal SF talk, as in your own “the Medium isn't implicit: it's the empire;” which, forgive me, seems to imply the role and lexical item are identical
John Bateman replied:
yup, you're absolutely right. The phrasing is certainly less than unproblematic. It is just that I have difficulty in remembering that the packaging that has to be thought around Medium, Process etc. to have them make any sense at all even could be forgotten. 
So you're right as well to point this out — although language use is always underspecified in these ways: the consequences of the underspecification will depend on audience of course, which on this list is sufficiently diverse as to advise caution I guess.
David Rose wrote:
And how can a grammatical function structure be ‘realized’ by a lexical item? Where in the theory’s architecture is that possible?
 John Bateman replied:
lots of shorthand and slippage ... but I don't think that they are particularly unresolved or unresolvable, if necessary. You raise the more interesting set of issues around relations between information organised lexically and information organised grammatically, and I don't think that particular nut is going to be solved any time soon; there has been little sign of it going away in the past. Here there is more architecture than actual solutions I think.

Blogger Comments:

[1]  As demonstrated in the previous post, Rose is far from right on this matter, since he misconstrues a nominal group the empire as a lexical item, and the phrasing is not problematic, since it encodes a theoretical Value the Medium by reference to a language Token the empire.

[2] Apparently, Bateman has "difficulty in remembering" that something "even could be forgotten".

[3] As demonstrated in the previous post, the notion of a grammatical function structure being ‘realised’ by a lexical item is nonsensical, since a lexical item is the synthetic realisation of the most delicate lexicogrammatical features, whereas a grammatical function structure is constituted by the relations between the functional elements.

[4] In SFL theory, the relation between "information" (i.e. content) "organised grammatically" and "organised lexically" is one of delicacy.  As will be seen in a later post, "the more interesting set of  issues around relations between information organised lexically and information organised grammatically" arise not only from confusing lexical items with word rank units, but also from the confusion of lexis as most delicate grammar with lexical cohesion — a theoretical confusion that first occurs in Martin's (1992) discourse semantic system of IDEATION, as critiqued in great detail here.

[5] Leaving aside the conundrum of "solving a nut" and it "going away", any problem here arises from not understanding the theory, and so any solution will necessitate getting to know the theory, especially in terms of its architecture.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

David Rose "Puzzled"

Thanks John But it's not just Gordon’s phrasing… it’s normal SF talk, as in your own “the Medium isn't implicit: it's the empire;” which, forgive me, seems to imply the role and lexical item are identical.  Is it possible our shorthand masks some unresolved slippage? Hence my question about the relation. ‘Filled’ is too syntax and vocab isn’t it? And how can a grammatical function structure be ‘realized’ by a lexical item? Where in the theory’s architecture is that possible? The problem is two distinct construals of field that come together in an instance like 'the hurricane struck the coastal area of Haiti’… lexical and grammatical

Blogger Comments:

[1] To say the Medium is the empire does not imply that 'the role and lexical item are identical' — not least because the empire is not a lexical item, but a nominal group.  In construing an element of clause structure (the Medium) and a nominal group (the empire) as higher (Value) and lower (Token) levels of abstraction, the clause is consistent with SFL theory:

the Medium
'the empire'
Identified Value
Identifier Token

But this misses the point.  The clause construes an identifying relation between linguistic theory and language data, such that a theoretical value (the Medium) is encoded by reference to a token of language (the empire).

[2] The notion of a grammatical structure being realised by a lexical item is nonsensical.  A lexical item is the synthetic realisation of the most delicate features of the lexicogrammatical system, whereas a grammatical structure is constituted by the relations between its functional elements. Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83-4):
The significance of any functional label lies in its relationship to the other functions with which it is structurally associated. It is the structure as a whole, the total configuration of functions, that construes, or realises, the meaning. … It is the relation among all these [functions] that constitutes the structure.

[3] This heralds a cluster of theoretical misunderstandings that Rose elaborated in a later sysfling post.  See David Rose "In A Nutshell" [Part 1] and David Rose "In A Nutshell" [Part 2].

Saturday, 2 December 2017

David Rose "Being Obtuse"

David Rose wrote to sysfling on 30 Nov 2017 at 14:05:27:
Perhaps I'm being obtuse, but can I ask if, whether our perspective is transitive or ergative, when we describe items like 'strike' or 'strike back’ in terms like 1-Role Processes or 2-Role Processes (or ergative/transitive or whatever), we are actually classifying lexical items according to grammatical criteria? By the term Process do we mean a lexical item or an element in a function structure, such as Actor+Process? If the latter, then what is the relation between the function structure and the lexical item?

Blogger Comments:

[1] In describing 'strike' and 'strike back' as lexical items, instead of verbs, Rose is taking the lexical perspective on the notion of 'word' and ignoring the grammatical perspective.  As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568-9) point out:
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical and one grammatical.
(i) Vocabulary (lexis): the word as lexical item, or "lexeme". This is construed as an isolate, a 'thing' that can be counted and sorted in (alphabetical) order. People "look for" words, they "put thoughts into" them, "put them into" or "take them out of another's", and nowadays they keep collections of words on their shelves or in their computers in the form of dictionaries. Specialist knowledge is thought of as a matter of terminology. The taxonomic organisation of vocabulary is less exposed: it is made explicit in Roget's Thesaurus, but is only implicit in a standard dictionary. Lexical taxonomy was the first area of language to be systematically studied by anthropologists, when they began to explore cultural knowledge as it is embodied in folk taxonomies of plants, animals, diseases and the like. 
(ii) Grammar: the word as one of the ranks in the grammatical system. This is, not surprisingly, where Western linguistic theory as we know it today began in classical times, with the study of words varying in form according to their case, number, aspect, person etc.. Word-based systems such as these do provide a way in to studying grammatical semantics: but the meanings they construe are always more complex than the categories that appear as formal variants, and grammarians have had to become aware of covert patterns.
From a grammatical perspective, 'strike' is a verb and 'strike back' is a phrasal verb, both at word rank.  As verbs, they feature as constituents of verbal groups, where they realise the functional element 'Event'; and verbal groups, in turn, feature as constituents of clauses, where they realise the functional elements 'Process', experientially, and (Finite +) Predicator, interpersonally.

[2] A lexical item is the synthetic realisation of the most delicate features of lexicogrammatical systems — just as a phoneme is the synthetic realisation of phonological features.  The relation between lexicogrammatical features and a lexical item is thus one of symbolic identity — lexical item as Token, features as Value — not class membership (attribution).

[3] The architectural dimensions of the theory provide the means of relating any regions within it.  To relate function structure to lexical item, the following path can be taken:
  • from structure to system: syntagmatic axis to paradigmatic axis (related by realisation),
  • within system, from most general features to most delicate (related by delicacy),
  • from bundle of most delicate features to lexical item (related by realisation).

But the question itself arises from taking a lexical perspective on the word instead of the grammatical.  The grammatical question would be 'how do we get from clause structure to word?', and the answer is via the rank scale and realisation, as described in [1] above.

See a related post from 2015 David Rose On Lexical Items.

Friday, 1 December 2017

David Rose On Metaphor And Levels Of Comprehension

A common definition that teachers use is in relation to similes, that compare one thing with another with ‘like’, while metaphors say one thing is the same as another. My strategy is to show them that metaphors have ‘two meanings’, the ‘literal' meaning of the wording and an ‘inferred' meaning that is different. And comparison is only one type of metaphor. They can be recognised because the literal meaning doesn't make sense in the co-text. The relation to SFL theory that teachers recognise is three levels of comprehension, literal, inferential and interpretive, where literal is defined simply as recognising meaning with a sentence, inferential as recognising connections from sentence to sentence and page to page, and interpretive as recognising connections to one’s knowledge and values. In technical SFL terms these are explained stratally as lexicogrammar, discourse semantics and register. This and much much more can be found in… Rose, D. (2017). Reading to Learn: Accelerating learning and closing the gap. Teacher training books and DVDs. Sydney: Reading to Learn

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misconstrues (literary) metaphors as similes — the comparison ('same') of phenomena — despite having already identified similes as concerned with comparison ('like').  The general frame of literary metaphor X is a Y, not X is the same as a Y.

A similar misunderstanding of metaphor can be found in Working With Discourse (Martin & Rose 2007: 45), as demonstrated here.

[2] Here Rose misrepresents levels of symbolic abstraction in the modelling of language as levels of comprehension of readers.

[3] In SFL theory, the "meaning in a sentence" is not lexicogrammar; it is the semantics (sequence) realised by the lexicogrammar (clause complex).  'Sentence', on the other hand, is a graphological unit.

Moreover, the (lexicogrammatical) wording may be congruent with the meaning ('literal') or incongruent (grammatical metaphor).

[4] In SFL theory, the "connections from sentence to sentence" are those of lexicogrammatical cohesion, the non-structural resource of the textual metafunction.  Martin (1992) misinterprets these non-structural textual systems of the lexicogrammar as structural experiential, logical and textual systems of his 'discourse' semantics, as demonstrated here.

[5] In SFL theory, 'register' is a functional variety of language, and as such, is modelled as a sub-potential of language, midway on the cline of instantiation between system and instance.  Martin (1992) confuses registers of language with the cultural contexts they realise and misconstrues register as context potential — i.e. neither language nor sub-potential — as demonstrated here.

[6] The use of the term 'accelerating' is interesting here, given that Reading To Learn is largely Rose's rebranding of Brian Gray's Accelerated Literacy.  Rose's doctoral research was concerned with providing an SFL description of an indigenous language; he worked with Brian Gray after its completion.