Wednesday, 15 February 2017

John Bateman On 'Genre Mixing'

John Bateman wrote to sys-func and sysfling on 10 February 2017 at 23:57: 
So, yes, one can well get a variety of 'mixes' when we cross strata, and perhaps the more abstract, the more this is possible (semiotically because the body or weight of distinctions instantiated at the less abstract strata begins to be sufficiently substantial as to be able to 'stand against' other collections of instantiations)Isn't this just heteroglossia? Doesn't sound too contentious.
As a text unfolds, there is then sufficient material to realise syndromes of choices that appear to realise several 'genres' either simultaneously or within locally distinct portions of the text as a whole. Taking the weather-climate metaphor: some texts may have patchy weather, perhaps even microclimates, generically. This shouldn't lead to theoretical difficulties.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands stratification.  There is no "crossing of strata" during logogenesis.  In SFL, strata are different levels of symbolic abstraction, not interacting modules.  Since "going up the strata" cannot occur, it cannot increase the likelihood of a text being attributed to more than one text type ("genre mixing").

[2] To be clear, on the SFL model, the way that genres differ is in terms of the frequencies of feature selections (if viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation, as text types), or in terms of the probabilities of feature selections (if viewed from the system pole, as registers).

[3] In SFL, the criterial stratum for genre classification is semantics. This is because genre/text type/register is a semantic concept.  Halliday in Halliday & Hasan (1985: 38-9):
A register is a semantic concept.  It can be defined as a configuration of meanings that are typically associated with a particular situational configuration of field, mode, and tenor.  But since it is a configuration of meanings, a register must also, of course, include the expressions, the lexico-grammatical and phonological features, that typically accompany or REALISE these meanings.
[4] This is not heteroglossia.  Heteroglossia refers to the same wording realising different meaning in different contexts.  Bakhtin (1981: 428):
The base condition governing the operation of meaning in any utterance. It is that which insures the primacy of context over text. At any given time, in any given place, there will be a set of conditions — social, historical, meteorological, physiological — that will insure that a word uttered in that place and at that time will have a meaning different than it would have under any other conditions; all utterances are heteroglot in that they are functions of a matrix of forces practically impossible to recoup, and therefore impossible to resolve.
[5] This misconstrues instantiation as stratification, following Martin (1992).  In SFL, the relation between text and genre is instantiation, not realisation.  Some of the theoretical problems with Martin's construal of genre as a stratum of context are detailed here.  It can be briefly noted, for instance, that if genre is modelled as a stratum of context, then a text is not an instance of a genre, since text is an instance of language, not context, and genre is modelled as context, not language.

[6] This misunderstands the weather-climate metaphor that is used to explain the cline of instantiation.  On the basis of that metaphor, the meteorological counterpart of a text that "mixes genres" is weather that "mixes weather types".  That is to say, the meteorological counterpart of a text that fits the statistical profile of more than one genre is weather that fits the statistical profile of more than one weather type.