Thursday, 19 October 2017

David Rose On Process Type Features

… Fourth, as Mick points out there are consistent (but also fuzzy) relations between the grammatical categories and domains of experience denoted by certain verbs (for example). I don’t think labels like behavioural, mental and so on are semantic. Rather they denote general fields of experience, beyond language. The grammar organises these fields, while lexical items are far more variable. 
A question I’m interested in is where do these relations come from? I mean our experience is so complex, fluid and variable. It seems a miracle that the grammar organises it as neatly as it does, despite the fuzz.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands the theory.  In SFL, the process type features are theorised as both semantic and lexicogrammatical.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
… we treat transitivity both within semantics (the paradigmatic and syntagmatic organisation of figures) and within lexicogrammar (the grammar of transitivity): it is a system construed within the content plane of language — both in the ideational component in the lexicogrammar and in the ideation base. This two-stratal approach to transitivity makes it possible to model the resource of grammatical metaphor and is fundamental to work on multilingual systems for generating text.
[2] On the one hand, this can be read as consistent with SFL theory, and so, as contradictory of Rose's previous statement.  On this reading, process type features, as ideational semantics do realise (Rose's 'denote') field, in the sense of 'field' as ideational context (the culture as semiotic system).  But this is not Rose's meaning here — as suggested by the contradiction — since Rose follows Martin's error in treating 'field' as a dimension of register.

On the other hand, this can be read as inconsistent with the epistemological assumptions on which SFL theory was developed.  On this reading, 'fields of experience beyond language' refers to the experience that is construed as ideational meaning.  On the SFL model, meaning is located within semiotic systems ("immanent"), rather than being transcendent of them.

In claiming that process type features denote (realise) 'fields of experience beyond language', Rose is (a) ascribing meaning to the domain outside semiotic systems, and (b) construing this domain as more abstract meaning than the meaning of language.  See also Philosophical Realism.

[3] On the one hand, this can be read as consistent with SFL theory if 'fields' is understood as the experience that is transformed into meaning, and if 'organises' is understood as 'construes as meaning'.  But this is not Rose's meaning here.  For Rose, 'fields' refers to (transcendent) meanings outside language, and it is the rôle of the grammar to organise them.

[4] This misunderstands the relation between grammar and lexis.  In SFL, lexical items are the synthesis of features of the most delicate systems of the lexicogrammar (just as phonemes are the synthesis of phonological features).

[5] This puzzlement arises from the epistemological inconsistencies identified above in [2] and [3].  The 'relations' arise as ideational meaning, construed of experience, in the logogenesis, ontogenesis and phylogenesis of meaning potential.