Monday, 23 May 2022

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The Trinocular Perspective On Process Topology

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503-4):
In our treatment of figures in the ideation base, we stressed the fluidity of the boundaries among the various types of figure: doing-&-happening, sensing, saying, being-&-having. We construe these in the grammar as a system of process types: at primary delicacy, material, mental, verbal, relational. These are sections on a continuum — or, better, regions in an n-dimensional semantic space; but they are not demarcated by any uniquely self-selecting set of criteria. 
A stratified semiotic defines three perspectives, which (following the most familiar metaphor) we refer to as 'from above', 'from roundabout', and 'from below': 
looking at a given stratum from above means treating it as the expression of some content
looking at it from below means treating it as the content of some expression, while
looking at it from roundabout means treating it in the context of (i.e. in relation to other features of) its own stratum.
Adopting this trinocular perspective we have identified the various process types in terms of their nuclear transitivity; this seems to us the most operationally useful approach, since it takes account of 
what they mean
how they are expressed, and
what their systemic potential is
— without privileging any one perspective at the expense of the other two.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

The Functionality Of The Indeterminacy Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
We have drawn attention at various points to the overall indeterminacy of language, something that we see as a necessary condition of its ability to function in the construal of experience. Our experience of the 'goings-on' in and around ourselves is so rich and many-faceted that no semiotic system that attempted to impose on it a rule-bound, determinate frame of reference would be 'functional' as a resource for survival.
We have tried to show such indeterminacy as a positive feature, and build it into our suggested meta-construal — not as some wayward or exceptional extravagance but as an unmarked state of affairs that is recognised to be the norm. To this extent, our grammatics becomes itself a metaphor for the grammar — that is, to the extent that we are able to enact this indeterminacy in our own representations.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

A Two-Stratal Approach To Transitivity

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.

Friday, 20 May 2022

The Semantics And Grammatics Of Intentionality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 478):
To the extent that intentionality enters into the semantic system of a language, it could in principle be construed ideationally as some aspect of the overall system of figures or be enacted interpersonally as a modality of inclination. If it is construed ideationally, it could in principle be a global property of a figure as a whole or a local property of the process or a participant.

In English, intentionality can be enacted within the interpersonal system of imperative modality (modulation) in the form of inclination, as in he won't be ordered around ('refuses to be'). It is independent of ideational agency; inclination is oriented towards the Subject, i.e. the modally responsible element of the clause, rather than (say) the Actor or Agent (as our passive example illustrates).

Intentionality can be construed in the clause as circumstances of Manner ('according to plan', e.g. he found the book by chance; he turned left by mistake; he turned left intentionally) and as verbal group complexes of projection or enhancement realising the Process (e.g., she intended to leave at 4; she happened to be in the neighbourhood). It may also be a factor in certain lexical contrasts within delicate process types; but we have no evidence that intentionality is a primary variable in the semantic system of figures and its grammatical construal in transitivity. Rather, whether an example is read as construing something as intentional or non-intentional will depend on a variety of factors, such as the consciousness of the most active participant.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

The Transitivity And Temporal Files Of The Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 468-9):
As we have seen, the two perspectives represent two different kinds of profile. One is the configuration of process, participants, and circumstances — the transitivity profile; and the other is the occurrence or unfolding of an event through time — the temporal profile.

The two perspectives are not unrelated, of course. As we shall see, the specification of an element of transitivity structure may determine the temporal profile: the created Goal that constitutes the completion of the performance of the process (as in Mr. Standings built a house), a Range that constitutes its finite scope (They sang two Hungarian folk songs), a destination that gives its spatio-temporal endpoint (He walked to the store), a resultative Attribute that constitutes the (qualitative) endstate (He was shot dead), and so on. But the mere presence of such an element is not sufficient to determine the temporal profile; it is also influenced by the 'boundedness' of the elements: are they in infinite supply or not — a definite number of units, or an indefinite number? In general, then, the temporal profile is determined by other factors such as the presence, and the boundedness in quantity, of participants and circumstances.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Temporal Instantiation Perspective On The Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 468):
In the temporal instantiation perspective, the issue is the occurrence of the process as an event located in time: how does it unfold through time, and what is its temporal profile? Here the relevant variables are such as the following:
1. Is the process homogeneous during its occurrence or does it decompose into a sequence of distinct phases (stages); is it a mini-tableau or a mini-drama?
2. Is the period of occurrence a relatively short interval, or is it an extended interval?
3. Is the whole period of occurrence in view or only a phase of it (e.g. beginning or end)?
4. Does the process tend to occur once or repeatedly?
These questions lead to typologies that include terms like stative, dynamic, perfective, imperfective, punctiliar, iterative, durative, and so on.

The distinction most commonly drawn here is based on change. Is there change over time or not; i.e. is there a change in the course of the occurrence of the process? The most common dichotomy is state vs. non-state (with terminological oppositions such as stative/ dynamic); this has been favoured both by philosophers (see e.g. Nordenfelt, 1977, and his references) and by linguists (see e.g. Quirk et al, 1985 and their references). States and non-states have different temporal profiles. States are homogeneous; any time we check a process whose occurrence is a state, it will be the same. Non-states, or changes, are not homogeneous; during the course of the occurrence of a process something will have changed, for example the spatial location of a participant (as with processes of movement) or parts of a participant, or some other attribute of a participant (e.g. possession or location in a 'quality space' such as colour or temperature).

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

The Participant-Organising Perspective On The Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 467-8):
In the participant-organising perspective, it is the nature of the participants involved in the process that determines the different process types. Relevant variables include the following:
1. Is some participant created, brought into existence, by the process?
2. Is some participant restricted to conscious being?
3. Can some participant be a metathing as well as a thing?
4. Is the process directed towards some participant?
5. Does the process benefit some participant?
6. Does the process occur spontaneously or does it need an input of energy?
7. Does the process affect some participant materially or does it impinge on its consciousness?
8. Is the process symmetric?
9. Is the process reflexive?
Questions such as these lead to typologies with terms like action, transaction, happening, sensing, saying, relation, existential, ambient, and so on. In the typology presented here as part of the ideation base, there are two very general considerations:
1. process type: what kind of reality does the figure or process configuration pertain to (the material world, the world of consciousness, the world of symbolisation, the world of abstract relations)?

2. agency: is the occurrence of the process (in conjunction with the medium) caused by an entity that is external to it (an agent)?

Monday, 16 May 2022

How Formal Syntax Obscures The Different Perspectives On The Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 466-7):
The difference between the two perspectives has been obscured for two reasons. In the first place, syntacticians have continued to tend to fail to recognise the unity of the verbal group, favouring instead a Predicate-based constituent, the Verb Phrase, with the Auxiliary then detached within it or located outside it altogether; furthermore, parts of the verbal group complex have been exported to a higher node (e.g. seem, continue). In the second place, the preference for immediate constituency rather than rank-based models of constituency effectively masks the generalisations that can be made about any one rank.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Two Perspectives On A Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 466, 467):
… a process is both an organiser of participants and an event that is instantiable in time. These two perspectives lead to different criteria for establishing process typologies. For example, will have left is the Process part of they will have left the house by now, where it organises the participants they and the house; but it also has internal organisation as an event will —> have —> left: see Figure 12-1.
The two perspectives are associated with different grammatical units, the clause (for the participant organising perspective) and the verbal group (for the temporal instantiation).

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Syndromes Of Features That Occupy A Region Of Semantic Space

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 466):
For example, if we recognise figures of saying (usually overlooked as a distinct type), this goes together with certain other features: with the distinction between phenomena and metaphenomena, and between ideas and sayings, with the organisation of projections as sequences rather than as figures, with the identification of symbol sources as a kind of participant, and with the recognition of circumstances of matter. In other words, we have to consider syndromes of features that occupy a region of semantic space.

Friday, 13 May 2022

The Semantics Of Attributive Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 450):
More generally, the Medium is related as a member of a set, which is defined either by a quality or by a class. The relation is a composite of the participants (the Carrier and the Attribute) and the nuclear relation. The nuclear relation is not necessarily a state; it can be either a being or a becoming, both of which are located in time, as are processes in general.
But its participants are static things; the Carrier is an individual or class, and the Attribute is a lasting quality or a wider class. The Attribute of the relation of becoming applies to the Carrier in the final state of the becoming; it is a resultative Attribute.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

The Fundamental Problem With The View That Language Distorts

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 447-8):
In rejecting both these views of language as distortion, we are not propounding an alternative version according to which language is a perfect match. What is wrong with all such conceptions is that they misconstrue the nature of a semiotic system — the fundamental relation of realisation to which we are always having to return. A semiotic system is not some kind of outer garment which may either reveal or conceal what is beneath. Rather, it is a transformation of experience into meanings, and each stratum within the system is construed by, and construes, all the rest. A "language", in this sense, may be artificially constructed or engineered, like a scientific theory or a logic; but all such semiotics are ultimately related to natural language, and natural language is still an accomplice in their overall construction of reality.

But whether or not it is engineered in this way, natural language will continue to evolve. The artificial languages of the 17th century were never actually used; but this did not mean that the forms of natural language persisted without change. On the contrary, new registers were always evolving, some of them as part of the ongoing reconstruction of experience in the form of systematic knowledge and experimental science.

Blogger Comments:

It was Samuel Johnson who said 'Language is the dress of thought', but he also said 'Words are but the signs of ideas', that is: the realisations of meanings. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

The View That Syntax Distorts Semantics: Universalist Arguments

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 447, 447n):
Such analyses ['surface x is really deep y'] were often supported by universalist arguments such as "negation is a verb in certain languages, so it is reasonable to claim that it is really a verb in all". … they tended to make deep structure, the 'real' structure, look like predicate logic. Surface structure came out looking like a (transformationally) twisted version of logical structures. But predicate logic had been derived from one particular area of the grammar, a simplified version of the experiential aspect of the clause; it could be used as an idealised model of certain types of figure, for the purpose of explicit rule-based reasoning, but it was not intended to be a tool for analysing the entire semantic structure of a natural language.² This view has largely been abandoned and the notion of a semantically irresponsible surface structure is no longer generally held.


² In terms of our model of a stratified metalanguage, we can see that taking the categories of predicate logic (or any other logical systems) to be linguistic ones constitutes a strata! slippage: categories from the level of representation in the metalanguage are imported into the theoretical account of the object language.

Blogger Comments:

In Chomskyan linguistics, this is the relocation of the universals of Platonic realism — which are said to exist outside and independently of human minds — into the res cogitans of Cartesian dualism.

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The View That Syntax Distorts Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 446):
The view that syntax distorts semantics implies that the relation of grammar to meaning is indirect and arbitrary. This view became tenable in modern linguistics, where meaning was either excluded from its scope altogether, as among structuralist linguists in the U.S., or, with Chomsky, kept at a distance by the metaphor of deep and surface structure in the syntax, only the former being semantically responsible. This paved the way for a number of analyses on the model of 'surface x is really deep y'. We find suggestions such as the following: adjectives are really verbs (e.g. Chafe, 1970), nouns are really verbs (cf. Bach, 1968), pronouns are really articles (Postal, 1966), negation is really a [higher] verb, tense is really a [higher] verb (cf. Huddleston, 1969), auxiliaries are really full verbs, verbal group complexes are really reductions of embedded clauses, moods are really separate clauses of saying, and so on.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Language Defined In Communicational Terms

 Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 446):

The same view of language as distortion is frequently to be met with when language is contained within a model of communication, where a common motif is that language is a vehicle for lying, or at least for concealing the truth. One might surmise that, if language is defined in communicational terms, as a means of transmitting information — especially if this is combined with a semantics based on considerations of truth — then this is how it is likely to appear.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Origins Of The View That Language Distorts The Picture Of Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 445):
This belief in the distorting effect of language was propounded by the early European humanists, who held that mediæval scholars had focussed too strongly on language, whereas the real task of the scientist was to see through the verbal disguise and penetrate to the reality underneath (for example, Francis Bacon's well-known warnings against the seductive power of natural language). Natural languages were considered to be inadequate vehicles for the new scientific knowledge; hence it was necessary to construct artificial languages to record, transmit and extend it. These artificial languages would, it was thought, be more in harmony with the objective world of experience. This same attitude continues to prevail in the ways people talk about language in our own time.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Whorf's Critique Of The View That Language Distorts The Picture Of Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 445):

After characterising the position of 'natural logic' in this way, Whorf (op cit.: 211) goes on to identify two problems with it:
Natural logic contains two fallacies: First, it does not see that the phenomena of a language are to its own speakers largely of a background character and so are outside the critical consciousness and control of the speaker who is expounding natural logic. Hence, when anyone, as a natural logician, is talking about reason, logic, and the laws of correct thinking, he is apt to be simply marching in step with purely grammatical facts that have somewhat of a background character in his own language or family of languages but are by no means universal in all languages and in no sense a common substratum of reason.

Second, natural logic confuses agreement about subject matter, attained through use of language, with knowledge of the linguistic processes by which agreement is attained: i.e., with the province of the despised (and to its notion superfluous) grammarian.

Friday, 6 May 2022

Whorf's Exposition Of The View That Language Distorts The Picture Of Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 444-5):

The view that language distorts the picture of reality, and that there is a mismatch between language and thought … was discussed many years ago by Whorf, in terms which are still relevant today; Whorf refers to it as the "natural logic" view:
According to natural logic, the fact that every person has talked fluently since infancy makes every man his own authority on the process by which he formulates and communicates. He has merely to consult a common substratum of logic or reason which he and everyone else are supposed to possess. Natural logic says that talking is merely an incidental process concerned with communication, not with formulation of ideas. Talking, or the use of language, is supposed only to "express" what is essentially already formulated nonlinguistically. Formulation is an independent process, called thought or thinking, and is supposed to be largely indifferent to the nature of particular languages. Languages have grammars, which are assumed to be merely norms of conventional and social correctness, but the use of language is supposed to be guided not so much by them as by correct, rational, or intelligent THINKING.

Thought, in this view, does not depend on grammar but on laws of logic or reason which are supposed to be the same for all observers of the universe — to represent a rationale in the universe that can be "found" independently by all intelligent observers, whether they speak Chinese or Choctaw. In our own culture, the formulations of mathematics and of formal logic have acquired the reputation of dealing with this order of things: i.e., with the realm and laws of pure thought. Natural logic holds that different languages are essentially parallel methods for expressing this one-and-the-same rationale of thought and, hence, differ really in but minor ways which may seem important only because they are seen at close range. It holds that mathematics, symbolic logic, philosophy, and so on are systems contrasted with language which deal directly with this realm of thought, not that they are themselves specialised extensions of language. (Whorf, 1956: 207-8)

Thursday, 5 May 2022

The Notion Of Language Distorting Reality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 444):
Attempts to create an ontology without reference to language in general, or without reference to lexicogrammar in particular, seem to derive from the belief, familiar in the history of Western thinking, that language comes between us and a 'real' or scientific understanding of the world, that it somehow distorts our awareness of reality. There are two somewhat distinct versions of this belief.  
The first is the notion that language distorts reality — or, as a variant of this, that language distorts our thinking (which includes our thinking about reality). This is extra-linguistic deception: language is deceiving us by the way it represents something else.  
The second is the notion that syntax distorts semantics. This is intra-lingiiistic deception: language is deceiving us by the way one part of it represents another part.

Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Language As The Primary Semiotic System For Transforming Experience Into Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 444):
Here let us just reiterate our view that all of experience is construed as meaning. Language is the primary semiotic system for transforming experience into meaning; and it is the only semiotic system whose meaning base can serve to transform meanings construed in other systems (including perceptual ones) and thus integrate our experience from all its various sources. 
It might be objected that this view leaves no room for scientific or metaphysical models — for example, that we do not allow for the possibility that science has advanced our understanding of the world. This objection would be misplaced: such models are construed in the ideation base as domain models within the overall meaning potential.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

The Interstratal Accountability Of A Theory Of Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 441-2):
Throughout our discussion of the organisation of the meaning base, we have made reference both to intra-stratal considerations (such as patterns of agnation and the transphenomenal types that emerged in the course of our exploration) and to inter-stratal considerations. With respect to the latter, we have foregrounded considerations 'from below', from the stratum of lexicogrammar. 

There were two main reasons for this: on the one hand, the meaning base has to be realised in worded texts and the statements of realisation will be simpler if the resources of wording are part of the picture from the start; on the other hand, the relationship between meaning and wording, between the system of semantics and that of lexicogrammar, is a natural one: they are both strata of the content. 

Although it has not been part of the central argument about particular distinctions in the meaning base, we have also referred to the relationship between semantics and context. Just as the meaning base has to be accountable lexicogrammatically, it also has to be accountable contextually. In our discussion, we emphasised register or functional variation as one of the keys to the relationship between semantics and context.

Monday, 2 May 2022

Autonomous Syntax vs A Natural Relation Between Lexicogrammar And Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 437-8):
In the logical-philosophical approach, within generative linguistics, interpretive semantics has focussed on the question of how semantic representations can be derived from below, from syntactic ones; and an important aspect of the debate in the late 60s and early 70s was precisely concerned with the directionality of interstratal mappings and the nature of the inter-stratal boundary.  
One key question that emerged, particularly in the 1970s and early 1980s, was whether syntax is autonomous or not. In the standard Chomskyan theory it was; but this was rejected by Montague and those who were influenced by his idea of building syntactic and semantic specifications "in tandem" (as in the successive developments of GPSG and HPSG).  
Within the rhetorical-ethnographic approach, we have taken the position that not only is lexicogrammar not autonomous, but it is natural in relation to semantics: our approach to the ideation base rests on this theoretical assumption. This is what explains the further possibility of grammatical metaphor, opened up at the interface between semantics and lexicogrammar.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Fawcett's Cognitive Model Of An Interactive Mind vs SFL Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 429):
… in our model there are two system-structure cycles, one in the semantics and one in the lexicogrammar. Terms in semantic systems are realised in semantic structures; and semantic systems and structures are in turn realised in lexicogrammatical ones. As we saw in Chapter 6 in particular, grammatical metaphor is a central reason in our account for treating axis and stratification as independent dimensions, so that we have both semantic systems and structures and lexicogrammatical systems and structures. Since we allow for a stratification of content systems into semantics and lexicogrammar, we are in a stronger position to construe knowledge in terms of meaning. That is, the semantics can become more powerful and extensive if the lexicogrammar includes systems. 

It follows then … that for us "knowledge of the universe" is construed as meaning rather than as knowledge. This meaning is in the first instance created in language; but we have noted that meaning is created in other semiotic systems as well, both other social-semiotic systems and other semiotic systems such as perception. Our account gives language more of a central integrative role in the overall system. It is the one semiotic system which is able to construe meanings from semiotic systems in general.

Fawcett's model, although in certain ways closer to mainstream cognitive science than ours, is also a systemic-functional model. In other words it is within the same general theoretical framework as that within which our own work is located.

Blogger Comments:

Fawcett's model is actually a development of Halliday's first theory, Scale and Category Grammar, not Systemic Functional Grammar, as Fawcett (2010) readily admits, and, as a model of syntax, its focus is on structure and form, not system and function. See the close examination of Fawcett's model here.

Fawcett's view of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) is less than complimentary, and writing on Sysfling on 29 June 2011, he unwittingly disclosed his inability to understand its content:
Indeed, if Michael Halliday and Christian Matthiessen had formed a clear view of the way in which the choices described in their Construing Experience through Meaning determine the choices in the major system networks of the lexicogrammar, they would surely have said so in that book. I have looked hard for a section that makes this connection, but I have yet to find it. This suggests that the model proposed there is simply one possible, half-complete hypothesis that needs to be subject to the normal process in science of development, testing, evaluation, revision (or rejection), retesting, re-evaluation, and so on.

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Fawcett's Cognitive Model Of An Interactive Mind

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 428-9):

Within systemic-functional linguistics, Fawcett (e.g. 1980) has pioneered a "cognitive model of an interactive mind". There are many fundamental similarities with the approach we are taking here, e.g. in construing an experiential system of process configuration within the content plane. However, there are two related differences of particular interest in the context of our present discussion:
(i) in Fawcett's model, there is only one system-structure cycle within the content plane: systems are interpreted as the semantics, linked through a "realisation component" to [content] form, which includes items and syntax, the latter being modelled structurally but not systemically;

(ii) in Fawcett's model, the semantics is separate from the "knowledge of the universe", with the latter as a "component" outside the linguistic system including "long term memory" and "short term sort of knowledge".

Blogger Comments:

This is misleading, because 'form' in Fawcett's model also includes expression. Fawcett (2010: 35n, 39):
I take a different view, as this book shows, in that I regard the level of meanings within the 'lexicogrammar' as the key level of linguistically-realised meaning, such that it is realised in any one of (1) syntax, (2) intonation or punctuation (depending on the medium of discourse) and (3) items. …
The term "form" is used here in a wider sense than that in "Categories" (or indeed any of Halliday's later writings) because it includes, as well as syntax and grammatical and lexical items, components for intonation or punctuation (depending on whether the medium is speech or writing).

Friday, 29 April 2022

Lakoff's Cognitive Semantics vs A Social Semiotic Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 428):
Thus while our view that the ideational semantic system construes human experience is similar to what Lakoff (1987; 1988) calls the position of "experientialist cognition" (the position he has himself espoused, in contrast with what he calls "objectivist cognition"), it differs in that for us construing experience is an intersubjective process. It is at once both semiotic (the construction of meaning) and social (as in Peter Berger's "social construction of reality": cf. Berger & Luckmann, 1966, Wuthnow et al, 1984). It is the intersection of these two perspectives that characterises the social semiotic we are attempting to present in this book (cf. Lemke, 1995; Thibault, 1993).

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Jackendoff's Conceptual Semantics vs A Socio-Semiotic Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 428):
Returning to Barwise's contrast between the mind-oriented view of meaning and the world-oriented view, we can note Barwise's general argument against the mind-oriented view:
... representational mental states have meaning in exactly the same way that sentences and texts have meaning, and saying what one means is a complicated matter. This makes attempts to explicate linguistic meaning in terms of mental representations an evasion of the main issue: How do meaningful representations of all kinds, sentences and states, mean what they do? (Barwise, 1988: 38)
We acknowledge this problem, but we believe the solution lies in a socio-semiotic view of meaning such as the one we are presenting here. Jackendoff views information about the projected world in conceptual terms; hence reality construction is seen as a process taking place within the consciousness of the individual. 
Our own view, that the projected world is a semantic construction, foregrounds the interpersonal perspective: meaning is construed in collaboration. Meanings are exchanged; and the "projected world" is constantly calibrated against the interpersonal negotiation of meaning. This means that consensus and conflict take over much of the domain that is usually conceptualised in terms of truth and falsehood (cf. Eggins, 1990). The semantic system (as part of the linguistic system) is shared; it is part of our social being.

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Some Limitations Of Jackendoff's Ontology

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 427-8):
Jackendoff contrasts his ontology with that of "standard first-order logic", and makes the important point that the ontological classes of logic are vastly under-differentiated from a linguistic point of view — that this type of logic is not an adequate theory of the semantic structure of natural language. Compared to this type of logic, Jackendoffs ontology is much more highly differentiated However, it is not very rich compared to what we believe is needed in an account of the ideation base.

The classes recognised are roughly a list of semantic correlates of word classes at primary or secondary delicacy (such as one finds in traditional grammars). The list is not exhaustive, it does not include any significant paradigmatic organisation (i.e., it contains no organisation showing how types are arranged into a subsumption lattice) and some of the most revealing distinctions of the ideational semantics of English are absent — e.g. the distinction between phenomena and metaphenomena, the recognition of the role played by projection, and the expansion of the system through grammatical metaphor.

These are general observations. Since Jackendoff relies on reference as a source of evidence for the ontological distinctions, he might in fact have taken note of the semantically crucial phenomena of 'extended reference' (the move to 'macro') and reference to fact (the move to 'meta') discussed in Halliday & Hasan (1976).

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Jackendoff's Ontology

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 427):
Jackendoff takes seriously the relation between conceptual organisation and syntactic organisation; this might be challenged from a classical formalist point of view, but from a functional point of view it is quite natural. In particular, he identifies correspondences between syntactic classes (i.e., categories in generative terms) and conceptual ones. Such correspondence is in fact a major source of evidence for the conceptual ontology. 

In particular, Jackendoff uses wh-items and non-interrogative reference items to support the ontology; he recognises things, amounts, places, directions, manners, events and actions. For instance, both things and places have to be recognised because English has both the forms what did you buy? and where is my coat? 

The ontology is tabulated in Table 10(1) below together with the grammatical evidence for each type. The left-most column provides a rough translation into our ideation base ontology.

Monday, 25 April 2022

The Transcendent Orientation Of Conceptual And Cognitive Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 426):
Jackendoff and a number of others now prefer the second position [semantic structures as subset of conceptual structures]. It is also shared by e.g. Langacker (1987), representing cognitive semantics from the other US coastline:
Meaning is a mental phenomenon that must eventually be described with reference to cognitive processing. I therefore side with Chafe (1970, p. 74-76) by adopting a "conceptual" or "ideational" view of meaning ... I assume it is possible at least in theory (if not yet in practice) to describe in a principled, coherent, and explicit manner the internal structure of such phenomena as thoughts, concepts, perceptions, images and mental experience in general. The term conceptual structure will be applied indiscriminately to any such entity, whether linguistic or nonlinguistic. A semantic structure is then defined as a conceptual structure that functions as the semantic pole of a linguistic expression. Hence semantic structures are regarded as conceptualisations shaped for symbolic purposes according to the dictates of linguistic convention, (pp. 97-8)
From our standpoint, this appears as a transcendent interpretation of meaning: we on the other hand prefer an immanent approach to meaning, where "conceptual organisation" is interpreted as meaning that is created by various semiotic systems, among which language is the primary one.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

The Relation Of Conceptual To Semantic Organisation In Conceptual Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 425-6):
Jackendoff (1983) presents a major study of semantics and cognition from a generativist point of view. As part of that study, he presents an ontology of conceptual types that are linguistically motivated. While his purpose is theoretical rather than descriptive, and the ontology is not very extensive, it has become a frame of reference for work in this area.
Jackendoff sees semantic organisation as part of conceptual organisation — that part which can be verbalised; this is a position that distinguishes him from a number of other generativists. He identifies two possible positions on the relationship between semantic organisation and conceptual organisation (1983: Section 1.7; interpreted by us in Figure 10-3):
(1) "conceptual structure could be a further level beyond semantic structure, related to it by a rule component, often called pragmatics, that specifies the relation of linguistic meaning to discourse and to extralinguistic setting."
(2) "semantic structures could be simply a subset of conceptual structures — just those conceptual structures that happen to be verbally expressible".

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Cognitive Semantics: Lakoff, Langacker, Johnson, Chafe, Talmy

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 425):
On the West Coast, a number of linguists have developed a "cognitive" alternative to generative linguistics. Some of them (e.g., Lakoff, Langacker) come from a generative background (Lakoff s starting point was generative semantics), but have made a radical departure from this tradition. They have widened the scope of study relative to the generativist research agenda so as to include metaphor as a prominent feature (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, and other subsequent writings, such as Lakoff, 1987, 1988) and a detailed theoretical model of the relationship of language to cognition and perception (Langacker, 1987). A few have also oriented their work towards discourse (notably Chafe, e.g. 1979; 1987; cf. also Tomlin's, 1987a, discussion of the linguistic reflection of cognitive events). 

This version of cognitive semantics is arguably more closely associated with the rhetorical and ethnographic tradition (perhaps not so much in terms of its roots, but in terms of where it is headed); cognitive anthropology, with its interest in folk taxonomy and more recently in cultural models, provides a meeting point between the two.

Various aspects of the West Coast work in cognitive semantics are relevant to the organisation of the ideation base; for example, the work on metaphorical systems already mentioned, Talmy's (e.g. 1985) work on lexicalisation, and Chafe's (1970) early work on the organisation of meaning.