Wednesday, 28 March 2018

David Rose On Collocation

It is a loose definition [in Cohesion In English (Halliday & Hasan 1976)] as collocation is an intuitive category, that Halliday took from Firth but did not develop. It was re-conceptualised and systemically described by Martin 1992 as ideational discourse semantics, specifically the taxonomic lexical relations of repetition, synonymy, contrast, hyponymy and meronymy
A full account, including history of collocation, is in Ch 5 in
Martin, J R 1992 English Text: system and structure. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
A shorter account is in Ch 3 in
Martin, J.R. & Rose, D. (2007). Working with Discourse: meaning beyond the clause. London: Continuum (1st edition 2003)

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading, because it is manifestly untrue.  Halliday & Hasan (1976: 287-8) define precisely what they mean by 'collocation':
The analysis and interpretations of lexical patterning of this kind is a major task in the further study of textual cohesion.  Here we shall simply group together all the various lexical relations that do NOT depend on referential identity and are NOT … covered by what we have called 'reiteration' and treat it under the general heading of COLLOCATION, or collocative cohesion, without attempting to classify the various meaning relations that are involved.  But it should be borne in mind that this is simply a cover term for the cohesion that results from the co-occurrence of lexical items that are in some way or other typically associated with one another, because they tend to occur in similar environments: the specific kinds of co-occurrence relations are variable and complex …
Rose's use of 'intuitive' may derive from his misunderstanding of Martin's (1992: 287) assessment of Gutwinski (1976):
As collocational thesauri were not available to provide operational definitions of such sets, analysis of items belonging to the same co-occurrence group proceeded on an intuitive basis.
* For Martin's confusion of co-occurrence with lexical sets in this quote, see [4] below.

[2] This is misleading, because it is manifestly untrue.  Halliday developed Firth's original conception  theoretically by relating collocation systemically to repetition, synonymy, hyponymy and meronymy as types of lexical cohesion, and this to the three types of grammatical cohesion (conjunction, reference, substitution–&–ellipsis) as non-structural resources of the textual metafunction within the lexicogrammatics of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory.

[3] As demonstrated in great detail here, as well as being inconsistent with SFL theory in terms of both metafunction and stratification, Martin's "reconceptualisation" of Halliday's lexical cohesion as experiential discourse semantics — poorly named 'IDEATION' — is a confusion of (misunderstandings of) lexical cohesion and (misunderstandings of) 'lexis as most delicate grammar', inter alia.

[4] To "re-conceptualise" collocation as repetition, synonymy, hyponymy and meronymy, is to misunderstand syntagmatic (co-occurrence) relations between lexical items as paradigmatic (lexical set) relations.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 644):


[5] The system 'contrast' is Martin's invention only.  In Martin (1992: 294), contrast is a system whose entry condition is the feature 'superordination' (i.e. hyponymy), despite the fact that none of its subsystems (1992: 304) — which include antonymic relations — are more delicate choices in superordination.

[6] To be clear, Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 60n) write:
The notion of collocation was first introduced by J.R. Firth (1957) (but note Hoey, 2005), and gained wide acceptance, particularly in work based on corpus analysis, as in the Birmingham tradition, e.g. Sinclair (1987, 1991), Coulthard (1993), Hoey (2005) and Cheng et al. (2009). For further systemic functional accounts of collocation, see e.g. Halliday (1966b), Halliday & Hasan (1976: Section 6.4), Benson & Greaves (1992), Gledhill (2000), Tucker (2007) and Matthiessen (2009b); Matthiessen (1995a) relates collocational patterns to structural configurations such as Process + Medium, Process + Range, Process + Degree; Thing + Epithet (for a corpus-based study of Process + Degree, see Matthiessen, 2009b).

[7] For a thoroughgoing detailed critique of Martin (1992), which demonstrates the extent to which the Martin constructs self-inconsistent misunderstandings of SFL theory, see Martin's Discourse Semantics, Register & Genre.

[8] For an ongoing detailed critique of Martin & Rose (2007), which identifies the extent to which the authors construct self-inconsistent misunderstandings of SFL theory, see Working With Discourse: Meaning Beyond The Clause (Martin & Rose, 2007).

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Jim Martin On Lexical Density And "Reference"

The proportion of generic to specific reference as far as participant tracking is concerned is relevant, since with generic reference identity chains re-initiate more often, pushing up lexical density; I’m not sure, never having counted, but where the generic reference involves technical terms, this may push up the repetition and lexical density even further
Also, I don’t think the stylistic prescriptive taboo in English against repetition of lexical items holds for specialised or technical terms. 
In terms of mode, it is more sensitive to measure lexical density per ranking clause, rather than depend on context/function work ratios.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, the distinction between generic and specific reference is not a distinction in the cohesive system of reference. It is Martin's (1992: 103-10) invention only, and forms a system within his IDENTIFICATION network. Martin's system of identification is his rebranding of Halliday's system of cohesive reference, which he misunderstands and relocates from (non-structural) lexicogrammar to (structural) discourse semantics. Martin's misunderstandings in this regard are identified in explanatory detail here.

In short, Martin confuses the textual system of referring with the experiential meanings of the referred to, the referents, as shown by the (unstructured) unit of this system, the participant.  This confusion also shows up in the distinction between generic and specific reference, where what is presented as a distinction of reference is actually a distinction in the referents.  Martin (1992: 103):
Generic reference is selected when the whole of some experiential class of participants is at stake rather than a specific manifestation of that class.
[2] Martin's 'participant tracking' derives from the notion of participant identification — introduced by the Hartford stratificationalists (Martin 1992: 95).  It is Martin's attempt to integrate their ideas with Halliday's notion of cohesive reference that leads to the confusion of the reference with the referent in Martin's model.  Martin's IDENTIFICATION is concerned with chains of instantial participants, and this naturally leads to confusion between reference chains of participants and lexical strings (documented here), the latter derived from Martin's misunderstandings of Halliday's lexical cohesion (as demonstrated here).

[3] This is a bare assertion, unsupported by argument or data.  The claim is that chains of a class of participant (e.g. 'human') restart in a text more often than chains of a specific manifestation of a class (e.g. 'Donald Trump').  Readers are invited to test this claim for themselves.

[4] This is another bare assertion, unsupported by argument or data.  The claim is that the more often reference chains restart, the higher the lexical density.  It can be seen that the former does not necessarily entail the latter, since the number of lexical items per clause can be entirely independent of how often a chain of participants restarts.

More to the point, the critical factor in increasing lexical density is ideational metaphor.  Halliday (2008: 163):
This [ideational metaphor] is a designed, or at least semi-designed, extension of the “experiential” way of looking at phenomena. It suits the “crystalline”, written mode of being; and in particular, as already said, it suits the elaborated discourses of organised knowledge, because it is good to think with — it enables you to build well-ordered conceptual structures and to spin tangled skeins of reasoning. High lexical density is the price to be paid.

[5] This is speculation based on a non-sequitur.  See [4].

[6] This is another bare assertion, unsupported by argument or data.

[7] To be clear, Martin misconstrues mode as a dimension of register, rather than a dimension of context that is realised in texts, registers and language as a whole (the cline of instantiation).

[8] This is a false dichotomy.  Lexical density is a measure of the number of lexical items per ranking clause, and nothing else.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 727):
To measure lexical density, simply divide the number of lexical items by the number of ranking clauses.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Jim Martin On ‘Subjunctive’

Jim Martin wrote to sysfling on 9 March 2018 at 09:05:
Some queries for those of you introducing the term ‘subjunctive’. 
Are you referring to a word class, a group class or a clause class? 
If a word class, which group class is it realising; if a group class, which clause class is it realising; if a clause class, are there relevant clause complex relations to consider? 
In each case, what is the relevant valeur, specified in terms of the entry condition to the relevant system and agnate features? And what is the realisation of the feature ‘subjunctive’? 
Then, reasoning from above, what is the discourse semantic system that the ‘subjunctive’ class is realising? Are we talking about appraisal engagement [heterogloss: expand: entertain] options? And/or are we talking about connexion [cause: contingency: condition] relations?

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misunderstands the architecture of SFL theory.  In accordance with the principles of SFL theory, the term 'subjunctive' does not refer to a class of word (noun, verb etc.), nor to a class of group (nominal, verbal etc.), nor to a class of clause (adverbial etc.).  The term 'subjunctive' is a potential feature in systems whose entry conditions are the rank of word, group or clause.  Martin's focus here on classes of form, rather than functional features, takes a formal perspective, not a functional perspective.

[2] This misunderstands the architecture of SFL theory.  The relation between word, group and clause is not realisation, but composition: a clause is composed of groups/phrases, a group/phrase is composed of words.  With regard to the rank scale, realisation is the relation between function and form, as where an element of the function structure at clause rank, such as Process, is realised by a unit (simplex or complex) of the rank below, such as verbal group.

[3] According to Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 143n), in Modern English, the subjunctive tends to be restricted to the dependent clause of a hypotactic nexus of condition or projection:
Many languages also have an interpersonal system of the verb(al group) that has been referred to as ‘mood’: it involves interpersonal contrasts such as indicative/subjunctive, indicative/subjunctive/optative. To distinguish these verbal contrasts from the clausal system of MOOD, we can refer to them as contrasts in mode. The subjunctive mode tends to be restricted to the environment of bound clauses — in particular, reported clauses and conditional clauses having the sense of irrealis. In Modern English, the subjunctive mode of the verb is marginal, although there is some dialectal variation.
[4]  On the basis of Halliday & Matthiessen's characterisation, the relevant system is an interpersonal system termed MODE with the features indicative vs subjunctive.  The entry condition includes 'verb' at the rank of word, and the feature 'subjunctive' is realised by a reduced set of forms, relative to the indicative.

[5] On the basis of Halliday & Matthiessen's characterisation, the grammatical feature 'subjunctive' realises the semantic feature 'irrealis'.

[6] The stratum of discourse semantics is Martin's invention only.  As demonstrated in great detail here, it is theorised on fatal misunderstandings of SFL theory, with the result that it is inconsistent with SFL theory — as well as being inconsistent with itself.

[7] For some of the misunderstandings of the feature 'heterogloss' in the appraisal system of ENGAGEMENT in Working With Discourse (Martin & Rose 2007), see the explanatory critiques here.

[8] By 'connexion', Martin means his logical discourse semantic system of CONJUNCTION, which is his rebranding of Halliday's conjunctive cohesion, misunderstood, relocated from grammar to discourse semantics, and applied inconsistently to both logical structures and non-structural textual relations alike, as demonstrated in great detail here.