Saturday, 12 May 2018

Tom Bartlett Advocating Theoretical Inconsistencies

When I produced data showing Circumstances could be coordinated with hypotactic clauses and nominal groups with projections the response was to falsify the data and to add missing features a la TG so that the theoretical tenet that only like elements can be subordinated was upheld at all costs.
I told the list the problem and that there was a need to solve it on various occasions and when it took my fancy.
To give examples of both : )

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, a circumstance is a class of element of function structure at clause rank, whereas a hypotactic clause is a class of form.  In SFL theory, co-ordination is the relation of paratactic extension that obtains between units of form at the same rank.

On the one hand, Bartlett confuses function with form; that is, he confuses two distinct levels of symbolic abstraction.

On the other hand, if the co-ordination is held to obtain between a clause and the formal realisation of circumstances, as a prepositional phrase or adverbial or nominal group, then Bartlett confuses clause rank with group/phrase rank; that is, he confuses two distinct levels of composition.

[2] To be clear, a nominal group and a projected clause are distinct levels on the rank scale.  The confusion is again one of level of composition.

[3] In SFL, such phenomena are accounted for by the cohesive system of ellipsis (Bartlett's "missing features").  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 635):
Ellipsis marks the textual status of continuous information within a certain grammatical structure. At the same time, the non-ellipsed elements of that structure are given the status of being contrastive in the environment of continuous information. Ellipsis thus assigns differential prominence to the elements of a structure: if they are non-prominent (continuous), they are ellipsed; if they are prominent (contrastive), they are present. The absence of elements through ellipsis is an iconic realisation of lack of prominence.
[4] To be clear, proposed theoretical changes that arise from theoretical misunderstandings and result in theoretical inconsistencies do not improve the explanatory power of a theory.  The larger problem here is that Bartlett is taking a syntactic perspective, which is the opposite of that from which SFL was theorised, as Halliday (1994: xiv) explains: