Wednesday, 5 April 2017

David Rose On "Lexical Meanings And Lexical Relations In Grammatical Analysis"

… I am also intrigued by the roles of interpreting lexical items in the grammatical analysis. For example, the first clause is interpreted as receptive circumstantial identifying, subclassified as Cause:purpose, from synonymy of ‘purpose’ with the lexical item ‘aim’ and the embedded clause ‘to (do)’ 
The primary clauses are attributive, in which each 'experimental method’ is classified as 'an isothermal process’ or 'an isochoric process’. That seems to be the function of the non-specific Deictic “an”, to indicate a class of items.
What’s particularly intriguing to me is the extent of assumptions of lexical meanings and lexical relations in grammatical analysis. This is most apparent in Halliday’s discussion of relational processes in IFG, which I found baffling until I started recognising the lexical assumptions implicit in his categories.  Has anyone else experienced this?

Blogger Comments:

[1] These false claims proceed from a misunderstanding of the theoretical dimension of delicacy (but see also point [2] below).  The subtypes of process are located intermediate between the most general systems and the most delicate systems that specify individual lexical items.  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. 
Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 65) provide an example of how the combination of more delicate process type features can specify lexical items:

[2] This misunderstands the reasoning behind the grammatical analysis of the clause (shown here).  The clause construes a relation of identity between an embedded clause complex of cause: purpose (to investigate the properties of air…) and a nominal group of cause: purpose (the aim of this experiment); see Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 500ff) on 'nouns of expansion'.

[3] The two 'primary' clauses are embedded and identifying, not attributive (as detailed here).  Each identifies (encodes) one experimental method.  The nominal groups with the non-specific Deictic an function as Identifier Token, not Attribute.