Saturday, 25 February 2012

Existential ‘There’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 119n):
… this there is a pronoun. The proportionality is:
the : that : it :: a(n) : one : there

Commonality Of Theme, Subject & Medium: Anchor

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 119-20):
The guiding axiom is the metafunctional one: just as the Theme is best understood by starting from the concept of the clause as message, so the Subject is best understood by starting from the concept of the clause as exchange, a move in dialogic interaction. Each of the two can be thought of as an anchor; … the Medium plays an analogous rôle in the clause as representation.

Validity & Subject

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 119):
The notion of validity relates to the arguing of the case, if it is a proposition, or to the putting into effect, if it is a proposal. The Subject is that element in which the particular kind of validity (according to the mood) is being invested.

Predication & Truth Value

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 119):
The problem only arises when predication is interpreted in terms of truth value, since proposals — commands and offers — have no truth value. This mistake arose because predication was assumed to be an experiential relation; but it is not — it is an interpersonal relation, enacting the form of exchange between speaker and listener.

Identity Of ‘Subject’ Established From A Trinocular Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 119): 
(i) From below, it is that nominal element (nominal group or nominalised phrase or clause) that is picked up by the pronoun in the mood tag.
(ii) From round about, it is that which combines with the Finite (operator) to form the Mood element in the clause; it is also that which constitutes the unmarked Theme if the mood is declarative, and which switches place with the Finite if the mood is yes/no interrogative.
(iii) From above, it is that which carries the modal responsibility; that is, responsibility for the validity of what is being predicated (stated, questioned, commanded or offered) in the clause.


Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 117):
Semantics has nothing to do with truth; it is concerned with consensus about validity, and consensus is negotiated in dialogue.

Subject As ‘Resting Point’ Of Argument

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 117):
The Subject supplies … something by reference to which the proposition can be affirmed or denied. … in a proposition this means the one on which the validity of the information is made to rest.

Polarity [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 116):
In order for something to be arguable, it has to be specified for polarity: either ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’ (proposition), either ‘do!’ or ‘don’t!’ (proposal).

The Commonality Of Primary Tense & Modality: Interpersonal Deixis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 116):
What these have in common is interpersonal deixis: that is, they locate the exchange within the semantic space that is opened up between speaker and listener. With primary tense, the dimension is that of time: primary tense construes time interpersonally, as defined by what is ‘present’ to you and me at the time of saying. With modality the dimension is that of assessment: modality construes a region of uncertainty where I can express, or ask you to express, an assessment of the validity of what is being said.

Modality [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 116):
Modality means likely or unlikely (if a proposition), desirable or undesirable (if a proposal).

Primary Tense [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 116):
Primary tense means past, present or future at the moment of speaking; it is time relative to ‘now’. … There is no primary tense in proposals.

The Function Of The Finite Element

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 115):
The Finite element … has the function of making the proposition finite. That is to say, it circumscribes it … so that it is something that can be argued about. … It relates the proposition to its context in the speech event. … [Either] by reference to the time of speaking [ie primary tense]; [or] by reference to the judgement of the speaker [ie modality].

Structural Realisations Of Indicative Mood

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 114-5):
(1) The presence of the Mood element, consisting of Subject plus Finite, realises the feature ‘indicative’.
 (2) Within the indicative, what is significant is the order of Subject and Finite:
(a) the order Subject before Finite realises ‘declarative’;
(b) the order Finite before Subject realises ‘yes/no interrogative’;
(c) in a ‘WH- interrogative’ the order is:
(i) Subject before Finite if the WH- element is the Subject;
(ii) Finite before Subject otherwise.

The Mistaken Notion Of Subject As “Purely Syntactic”

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 112):
The Subject is not a purely formal category; like other grammatical functions it is semantic in origin.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 120):
The notion of the Subject as a ‘purely syntactic’ element arose because it proved difficult to understand Subject + Predicate in an account of the grammar that recognised only the ideational kind of meaning; once we open up the other metafunctional spaces, just as Theme comes powerfully into the picture, so Subject becomes (equally powerful but) less mysterious.