Wednesday, 24 October 2018

David Rose On The Tension Between Lexis And Grammar

David Rose wrote to sys-func on 21 Oct 2018 on 10:08 a message titled 'Whale snack?':
Headline in Sydney Morning Herald :)
Whale snack stops challenge feast or famine myth: Australian Museum
and on 24 Oct 2018 at 09:46:
... a revealing illustration of tension between lexis and grammar. To make sense of the grammar you have to know the field connoted by the lexis! So you have to read the article. What an ingenious hook :)

Blogger Comments:

[1] The instance does not illustrate tension between lexis and grammar.  A genuine example of "tension" between lexis and grammar would be the use of a lexical item like giggle as a projecting verbal Process, as in:
"You're stupid!" the child giggled.
In such cases, the lexical choice adds a behavioural feature to a verbal Process.

[2] In SFL, the way to analyse any clause is to take a trinocular approach, shunting between the grammar and the view 'from above' (the meaning being realised) and the view 'from below' (the realisation of the wording at lower ranks).  The difficulty in this clause lies in its grammatical constituency, even though there is only one possible reading, as shown here.

[3] Here Rose repeats Martin's misunderstanding of the theoretical term 'field'.  In SFL, 'field' refers to the ideational dimension of context: the culture as semiotic system; field is not a dimension of language.  When Martin and his students use the term 'field', they are usually referring to a domain, the semantic correlate of a contextual field (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 323).

This confusion is further complicated by the fact that Rose, following Martin, misunderstands field as a dimension of register, where register, a context-specific subpotential of language, is misunderstood as context, instead of language.

Evidence of Martin's (1992) misunderstandings of SFL theory can be viewed here; evidence of Martin & Rose's (2007) misunderstandings of SFL theory can be viewed here.