Friday, 31 January 2014

Trinocular Vision On Semiotic Systems

Halliday (2008: 141):
When we are observing and investigating language, or any other semiotic system, our vision is essentially trinocular. We observe the phenomenon we want to explore — say, the lexicogrammar of language — from three points of vantage. We observe it from above, in terms of its function in various contexts. We observe it from below, in terms of its various modes of expression. And thirdly, we observe it from its own level: from within, or from round about, according to whether we are focussing on the whole or some of its parts.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Complementarity Of Speaking And Writing Viewed “From Below”

Halliday (2008: 140-1):
When we look at it “from below”, in terms of its mode of expression, the complementarity is very obvious: speech happens, as ongoing transitory disturbances in the air, that we recognise as sound waves; writing exists, as simultaneous and relatively permanent visible marks, on stone or metal or vegetable matter processed into paper. It is only in the last few decades that these properties have come to be mixed together, so that we can now “capture” spoken language on tape, and “scroll” written language up (but also down) the computer screen. We don’t yet know what are going to be the longer-term consequences of this interpenetration of these two modes of expression, which were previously much more distinct. But changing pressures from below — and also those from above — are bound to have some significant effects.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Complementarity Of Speaking And Writing Viewed “From Above”

Halliday (2008: 140):
Writing is, as I said, parasitic on spoken language; it could not have come into existence except as a surrogate of speech. But it is not, and never has been, just the same thing in a new guise. Writing is not just spoken language written down, unlike the visual system of deaf sign (“sign language”), which is truly a variant of spoken language and shares the functions and fluidities of speech. […] This is to look at writing “from above”, in terms of its meaning and its function in human cultures.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Principles At Work In The Construal Of Time In The Lexicogrammar Of English

Halliday (2008: 137):
There is serial time reference to past / present / future, beginning with deictic time [i.e. time relative to now] and moving on recursively from there; this is fully grammaticalised as the tense system in the verbal group, which operates in partial concord with lexical realisations of the same temporal categories. That is the underlying potential, in terms of which actual instances are construed by speaker and listener.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Tense System Of English

Halliday (2008: 135):
But the tense system of English is organised on this serial principle: each choice of past, present or future may serve as a point of reference for a further move into past, present or future, and this can happen four or five times over. There is no requirement that each step should be made explicit; the speaker can move in at any point, and verbs with up to three tense choices are commonly used as dialogic openings, for example
  • I’ve been going to ask you: … future in past in present
“the present situation is that in the past I was contemplating the future”.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Our Angles Of Vision On Language

Halliday (2008: 126):
To revisit my earlier analogy of climate and weather: the power of weather to influence our daily lives, through storms and floods and droughts and all the rest, derives from the fact that it is the instantiation of something we call “climate” — because it is climate that has shaped our evolution and so determines the effect on us, and indeed on all of nature, of all the fluctuating processes and forces that we call “weather”. In the same way the power of the text resides in the system, because it is the system that determines the meaning and the significance of the ongoing choices made by writers and speakers. It is a mistake to restrict our angle of vision to just one perspective or the other, or to treat the discourse analyst and grammarian as if they inhabited two different realms of intellectual being.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The Power Of Language

Halliday (2008: 125-6):
Thanks to these two metafunctions, in the modern “globalised” world of corporate and state capitalism it is language that maintains and reinforces the political and economic power structures in which we live and move. Discourse analysts often refer to this phenomenon as “the language of power”. But there can only be a language of power because of the power of language; and the power of language depends, in turn, on the complementarity of system and text.

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Two Major Functions Of Language

Halliday (2008: 125):
Language has an almost unlimited capacity for construing our experience of reality — not surprising, because that is one of the two major functions, or “metafunctions”, in which it evolved. It sets up a virtual universe of meaning as interface between ourselves and the external world. The other major function was that of enacting our social identities, managing the complex interpersonal and institutional relationships within which human beings, and human cultures, have evolved.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Describing An Instance: Proportionality And Agnation

Halliday (2008: 121, 124):
It follows from these two properties that the description of any one instance is its relationship to other instances: describing and relating are one operation not two. Each instance has meaning by virtue of what it might have been (but was not).

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Systemic Agnation

Halliday (2008: 121):
Agnation means that the outputs of different passes through the same network will be related; and the distance between them can be measured, by the number and location of the features that they share — how much their “selection expressions” have in common.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Systemic Proportionality

Halliday (2008: 121):
Proportionality means that the terms in the system stand in a constant relationship to one another; their significance will vary according to the context, but (for example) hats is to hat as hairs is to hair as silk is to silks, even though hats are more than hat, hairs are less than hair, and silks are kinds of silk.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Understanding Instantiation: Proportionality And Agnation

Halliday (2008: 121):
Seen from the system end, instantiation means making a pass, or passes, through the network, selecting a systemic feature at each choice point. The key properties, for understanding this as a meaning-making operation, are proportionality and agnation.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Generativity Of System Networks

Halliday (2008: 120, 121):
One problem that has sometimes been raised in this connection is that the number of options seems too vast. […] But (as Wimsatt pointed out, criticising Chomsky’s notion of the innateness of grammar — what he referred to as “generative entrenchment” and the “developmental lock”), what is relevant is the number of choice points; […] The system network is not a modelling of neural processes — it is an analytical tool for the grammarian. But there is nothing improbable in the range of possibilities that such networks are able to represent.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

The Network As Theory Of The System

Halliday (2008: 120):
The network is a theory of the system — that is, of the linguistic system, at any one stratum, as a whole. It is a paradigmatic theory, because the concept of system itself is paradigmatic. […] Any theory of possibilities is essentially paradigmatic. It is by networking the system that we show, not just how meaning is made, but how it is possible for meaning to be made. The system networks of the grammar are an attempt to state the possibilities of the grammar as a whole, its total potential for construing meaning in wording.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Instantiation And Phylogenesis

Halliday (2008: 119):
The system is the potential that informs and gives value to the text. Each instance minutely perturbs the probabilities of the system. Any part of the system may remain stable over long periods of time; but the system as a whole is metastable: it persists by continually evolving within its overall eco-social environment.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Bernstein’s Concept Of “Code”

Halliday (2008: 114):
… Bernstein’s concept of “code”, which he defined as sociolinguistic coding orientation […] with its opposition of “elaborated / restricted”, was the basic mechanism of cultural transmission: it was the different semiotic practices, or “meaning styles”, of different social classes that was responsible for transmitting social class distinctions across the generations.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

“A Register” Vs “A Dialect”

Halliday (2008: 114):
Whereas dialect variation was variation according to the user, register variation was variation according to the use. Like dialect, register was the name of a kind of variation; so if we talk of “a register”, this is again analogous to “a dialect”, in the sense that each refers to a clustering of features that typically go together. In the case of register, these will be explained in terms of the view from above — the context of situation [i.e. context as instance] and the context of culture [i.e. context as system]. In other words, a pattern of regularities in this middle range of generality (pertaining to less than the language but more than the individual text) is most clearly observed from the “system” position, where it will appear as a motivated resetting of the global probabilities of the language.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Functional Variation: Intermediate Regions Between The Observational Poles Of System And Instance

Halliday (2008: 113-4):
System and instance are the two observational poles: observers, we may position ourselves up close, as instance observers, or else at a distance, as system observers. The two vantage points raise different questions about language. But the phenomena we are trying to explain may be just those whose regularities are found in some intermediate region along the instantiation cline, so that it is not all obvious which position we should be observing from. … [Functional variation] appears either instantially in the form of “text types” or systemically as variation in “register”. If we find systematic variation in the meanings selected in a number of specimens of discourse, we might group together those instances that are alike in certain respects, in their grammar or in their text structure, and recognise a set of text types. But if want to explain such variation, we shift our stance to that of the system observer and recognise specific sub-systems [i.e. registers] that are motivated “from above” — from the context, associated with some culturally defined forms of social practice.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Other Features Of The Metaphoric Code

Halliday (2008: 108-9):
Over and above this feature of comprehensiveness, the metaphoric code has other features which, while they might be mildly dysfunctional in a scientific context, can be exploited to some effect when it is transported into a bureaucratic setting. It can be oblique, impersonal and ambiguous: “oblique” because it stands at several removes from experience; “impersonal” because agents and other participants are often left out; “ambiguous” because the signals of syntactic relations among elements are usually absent.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Comprehensiveness Of The Metaphoric Code

Halliday (2008: 108):
… metaphoric variety is not, in fact, some kind of specialised sub-system. Rather, it is an alternative system, a parallel universe of discourse which offers — in fact imposes — its own account of any portion of reality. In other words, it can be brought into play in any context of situation.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Metaphoric “Rewordings” Are New Ways Of Construing Experience As Meaning

Halliday (2008: 107):
It has to be stressed that these metaphoric “rewordings” are not, in fact, new ways of saying old things (although it can be made to look as if they are). They are not so much “rewordings” as “remeanings”, new ways of semanticising human experience.

Friday, 10 January 2014

How The Systemisation Of Grammatical Metaphor Enabled The Emergence Of Scientific Registers

Halliday (2008: 105):
The effect of the metaphoric processes, now operating in syndromes that permeated the entire text, was to create a new virtual reality in which phenomena of all kinds — not only entities but also processes, qualities, circumstances and logical relations — could be classified into taxonomies, measured, and used to reason with; and each new step in the argument could become the given for a further move. It was as if the grammar was holding the world still, in its place — freezeframing it, so to speak — as it was being observed, quantified, and theorised about. Where the grammar of daily life, with its commonsense theory of experience based on the clause, presented a flux of doings and happenings and the people and things that take part in them, the new grammar of science, based on the nominal group, stabilised the flux and imposed order on the phenomenal world.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Developing Technical, Theoretical Forms Of Discourse: Metaphoric And Transcategorising Potential

Halliday (2008: 100):
Two aspects of a language are involved: (1) the metaphoric potential, realigning the relations between the semantics and the lexicogrammar (“de- and re-coupling”); (2) the transcategorising potential, moving lexicalised elements across syntactic classes. The first of these is the essential operation; the second is the mechanism by which it is achieved.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Nominalisations: Systemic Vs Instantial

Halliday (2008: 97-8):
The nominalisations functioning as technical terms are those which have become systemic; they can no longer be “unpacked” (that is, replaced by a more congruent form). We can say — using a lexical metaphor — that the metaphor is “dead”: a technical term is, essentially, a dead grammatical metaphor. The ones functioning to build up the argument remain instantial; they can readily be unpacked and replaced by an agnate congruent wording.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Grammatical Metaphor As Theory-Building: Creating Technicality And Rationality

Halliday (2008: 97):
[Grammatical metaphor] is functional [in theory-building] in two distinct though complementary ways. 
  1. On the one hand, it creates technicality. The virtual entities that come into existence through semantic junction embody a large amount of technical knowledge; and these technical terms can be organised into technical taxonomies thanks to the constructional resources of the nominal group.
  2. On the other hand, it creates rationality. In the same way, by “packaging” a lot of previous information in the text, the nominalisation makes it possible to build up chains or sequences of logical argument; these are construed by the text-forming resources of the grammar (in English, the organisation of the clause into Theme and Rheme, and of the information unit into Given and New.)

Monday, 6 January 2014

Grammatical Metaphor As Temporal Process: Becoming Systemic Vs Remaining Instantial

Halliday (2008: 97):
A virtual entity such as heat resistance is construed logogenetically: it is built up in the course of the text — which may be a single text or, more probably, the macrotext of some scientific subdiscipline. (Virtual processes, on the other hand, like cause and inhibit, tend to be general across all registers of learned discourse.) Such an entity is quite likely to become systemic: it enters the system and becomes a “technical term”. Other nominalisations may remain purely instantial: they function at that moment in the text, but are created each time out of the general resources of the grammar.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Grammatical Metaphor As Temporal Process: Semogenic Timescales

Halliday (2008: 96-7):
All metaphoric processes take place in time. But there is more than one dimension of time involved. There is phylogenetic time: the history of the linguistic system. There is logogenetic time: the history of the text. There is also a third time dimension: ontogenetic time, the history of the individual, as learner and user of language.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Effect Of Semantic Junction: Virtual Phenomena

Halliday (2008: 96):
The effect of this semantic junction is to create virtual phenomena which exist on the semiotic plane. Thus motion and heat are virtual entities; cause and follow (“come after in time”) are virtual processes; while heat resistance is a virtual class of a virtual entity resistance. Such virtual phenomena are critical for the construction of theory;

Friday, 3 January 2014

Grammatical Metaphor As Semantic Junction

Halliday (2008: 96):
By these and other such metaphoric processes, new meanings are created at the intersection of the two categories involved. A “semantic junction” takes place, and this construes new and complex semiotic entities having the features of both. For example, motion is a junction of “process”, which is the category meaning of a verb move, and “entity”, which is the category meaning of a noun, as in motion. Likewise, heat is both entity, because it is a noun, and quality, because the congruent form is hot which is adjective. The verb cause is a junction of process, because it is a verb, and logical-semantic relation, because the congruent form is so which is a conjunction.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Grammatical Metaphor As Syndrome

Halliday (2008: 95):
Almost every instance of grammatical metaphor involves a syndrome of related features.  There are many different patterns of co-occurrence, but most involve one or more of the following three. 
  1. Processes and qualities, congruently realised as verb and adjective, get nominalised (transformed into nouns): move becomes motion, (be) hot becomes heat
  2. Logical-semantic relations, like cause and time, congruently realised as conjunctions, get verbalised (transformed into verbs): so becomes causes, then becomes follows
  3. Various clausal configurations are transformed into nominal groups, typically with structure Classifier + Thing: resists (the effects of) heat becomes heat resistance, replacing assets becomes asset replacement.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Four Essential Aspects Of Grammatical Metaphor

Halliday (2008: 95):
  1. metaphor as syndrome,
  2. metaphor as semantic junction, 
  3. metaphor as temporal process, 
  4. metaphor as theory-building.