Friday, 28 February 2014

The Semiotic Complementarity Of Speech And Writing

Halliday (2008: 165-6):
As written language evolved, itself as a metaphor for language in its original, spoken form, it opened the way to the metaphoric reconstrual of experience: to new ways of meaning, the forms of educational and technical knowledge that constitute the semiotic aspect of a set of massive changes in the human condition. This is where we find the complementarity, not of speech and writing as material modes (states of matter), but of spoken and written language as modes of meaning. The metaphorical and the congruent are complementary states of meaning — because speaking and writing both shape reality in their own image. Each one makes the world look like itself.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Material Complementarity Of Speech And Writing

Halliday (2008: 165):
But if we talk of speech as liquid, writing as solid (or whatever metaphorical variant we find suggestive), what particular feature are we referring to? Most obviously, or most immediately, it is the nature of the medium itself; we are looking at speech and writing “from below”. Speech unfolds in time; its material existence takes the form of disturbances in the air; it can be “reduced to writing”, but then it has become writing, like dancers captured in metal or stone. Writing extends in space; it can be “read aloud”, but then it has become speech, like the river flowing out of a frozen glacier. These are just the two modes of material being. But they have different states of meaning, different semiotic modes, associated with them.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Speech And Writing As A Complementarity Of State

Halliday (2008: 165):
One and the same semiotic system–&–process, that we call “language”, is being manifested (to use the material states by way of analogy) either as liquid or as solid. Spoken language is liquid (some might say it often reaches a gaseous state) and transitory; written language is solid and permanent. There are many such pairs we could use as analogy: mercurial versus crystalline, river vs glacier, dance vs sculpture. What any such pair of terms must suggest is that both states of being are equally rich and equally complex.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Notion Of Complementarity

Halliday (2008: 164-5):
I have used the term for three distinct dualities: first grammar and lexis, then system and text, and now speaking and writing. These three dyads are all distinct from each other. Grammar and lexis form a complementarity of focus, based on delicacy: meaning as generalities or as particulars. System and text form a complementarity of angle, based on instantiation: meaning as collections of instances or as potential. Speaking and writing are different from either of these. They form a complementarity of state, in the sense of different states of matter as solid, liquid and gas — except that here we are concerned with different states of meaning.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The Speech / Writing Complementarity

Halliday (2008: 164):
There is no denying that writing is parasitic on speech; or perhaps we should say epiphytic, since presumably it does not cause injury to its host. But once writing has evolved to the point where anything in the language can be written down, it adds a new dimension to the meaning potential. There is no point in arguing about which can develop more power; each has its own mechanisms and its own strategies, related to their complementary ways of achieving and managing complexity. But they generate power of rather different kinds.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Interpersonal Aspects Of The Spoken / Written Complementarity

Halliday (2008: 164):
Interpersonally, probably the most significant variable in this context is that of personality, the different personæ being taken on by the writer and the speaker. Writing departs much further from the dialogic foundations of language. There have always been monologic forms of speech; but writing alters the balance, shifting from the intersubjective to the subjective, with the interesting consequence that the writer is, relatively, more first-person oriented than the speaker. If you are writing, your addressees are, typically, virtual; whereas if you are speaking your addressee is typically actual, and this imposes constraints on the meaning-making process: it has to be more a matter of negotiation. So while the writer’s personal intrusion into the discourse may be less apparent, because the mood tends to be constantly declarative, it is clearly present in the lexicalised systems of appraisal that we have become familiar with in recent systemic work.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Grammatical Intricacy And The Logical Metafunction

Halliday (2008: 163):
The intricacy that is characteristic of spoken language is a different manner of deploying grammatical energy, exploiting the “logical” way of looking at phenomena (note that “logical” here always refers to grammatical logic, not to formal logic — which is a designed extension of it). The principle of setting up a logical-semantic relationship between two figures is extended recursively, so that it can be extended to construe complex sequences of figures that are related systemically: in grammatical terms, a “nexus” can initiate a “complex” of any length. […] It is a powerful resource; it suits the “choreographic” spoken language, which unfold in time and builds up its own discursive momentum.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Ideational Metaphor And Lexical Density

Halliday (2008: 163):
This [ideational metaphor] is a designed, or at least semi-designed, extension of the “experiential” way of looking at phenomena. It suits the “crystalline”, written mode of being; and in particular, as already said, it suits the elaborated discourses of organised knowledge, because it is good to think with — it enables you to build well-ordered conceptual structures and to spin tangled skeins of reasoning. High lexical density is the price to be paid.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Grammatical Intricacy And Lexical Density: Evolved Ways Of Managing Complexity

Halliday (2008: 161):
Grammatical intricacy [logical metafunction] and lexical density [experiential metafunction] are two ways of managing complexity: different strategies for transforming complex phenomena into edifices of meaning [ideational metafunction]. They are not intrinsically tied to the speech / writing complementarity; they derive from two variants both of which evolved in spoken language as a typological variable in the construal of complex processes.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Measuring Grammatical Intricacy

Halliday (2008: 161):
Grammatical intricacy can be measured as the number of ranking clauses in the clause complex. But this is more problematic: partly because it requires criteria for identifying the limits of a clause complex in spoken discourse, and partly because it makes no sense to calculate it as a mean. The reasons for this have nothing to do with the way spoken language construes experience; they are not ideational but interpersonal. Spoken language is inherently dialogic in nature, with very many short turns guiding the interaction; whereas intricate clause complex structures can only occur in the more monologic interludes in the dialogue. Thus the mean figure for intricacy would be essentially meaningless.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Measuring Lexical Density

Halliday (2008: 158):
Lexical density can be measured as the number of lexical items (“content words”) per ranking clause. (A “ranking clause” is one that is functioning as a clause, independent or dependent; not “rank-shifted” to become part of something else.) Since it is a comparative measure, it does not matter exactly where the line between content words and function words is drawn, provided it is drawn consistently for all the texts under study.

Monday, 17 February 2014

The Complexity Of Spoken Vs Written Language Viewed ‘From Round About’: Grammatical Intricacy And Lexical Density

Halliday (2008: 158):
The complexity of spoken language is, as I put it, choreographic; it can build up quite elaborately structured clauses, and string these out in equally elaborate clause complexes, giving a commonsense picture of the world that is intricate but not dense: intricate in movement, like a dance, but not on the other hand very densely packed. It is rather explicit in showing the semantic relationships among its various components. By contrast, the complexity of written language could be described as crystalline: its clauses tend to be rather simple in structure, but they can be extremely dense, with the elements compressed into lengthy expansions of words, most typically nominal groups, and the semantic relations among the constituent elements very largely left implicit — for the informed reader to supply. I have referred to these two types of complexity as “grammatical intricacy” and “lexical density” respectively.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Complementarity Of Congruent And Metaphorical Ideational Grammars

Halliday (2008: 157):
Once both grammars are in place, however, by the time the child enters secondary school, the two form complementary constructions of reality. Technical knowledge is construed almost entirely in these metaphoric terms. But since every adolescent started life as a child, the primary commonsense grammar is still in place, and the picture of the world that is being built up by language is not just the reconstructed version but a composite. The result is a multi-faceted perspective on reality which, if you come to terms with it, gives a plausible representation of the contemporary human environment.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Ideational Metaphor, Mode And Ontogenesis

Halliday (2008: 157):
… there are various reasons why this metaphoric [nominal-based] kind of grammar is associated with writing while the congruent, clause-based grammar is associated with speech. The metaphoric grammar could not function as the primary construction of reality — “primary” in the sense of the child’s mother tongue, the grammar through which experience is first construed. This is because this grammar is interpretable only as a transformation of something else: only as metaphor, in fact. … This kind of grammar can only function as a secondary construal of experience — just as writing can only function as a secondary construal of meaning, because writing is also metaphoric to speech.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Technical Term Vs Ideational Metaphor

Halliday (2008: 155):
A technical term […] is a dead metaphor, one that can no longer be “unpacked” — replaced by a non-metaphorical expression.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Lexical Metaphor Vs Grammatical Metaphor

Halliday (2008: 155):
In metaphor in its traditional sense, one word (lexical item) is replaced by another; here it is one grammatical category that is replaced by another.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Not All Trancategorisation Creates Semantic Junction (Grammatical Metaphor)

Halliday (2008: 154-5):
If we use the noun mover, “one who moves”, as when are the movers coming to shift the furniture, mover is indeed an entity; but it is an entity that is defined by a process — it does not embody the semantic feature of “process”. There is no semantic junction going on here.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Power Of Writing

Halliday (2008: 153):
Writing creates conditions in which in which knowledge can be recorded and transmitted, and hence systematically extended as new experience accrues; it provided the soil in which new ways of meaning could germinate and flourish. But there is another feature of writing which gives it its special power.  Whereas speech is transitory and in flux, writing is permanent and stable; and this serves both as metaphor and as model for the grammar of written language: its own mode of being is the model for the meanings it construes.  In the commonsense world of doing and happening, which is created, and ongoingly maintained, by the spoken language, the unit of organisation is the clause, which construes experience in terms of movement and change.  But in the written language the organising unit becomes the noun, or rather the nominal group, which construes experience in terms of taxonomies of things.  And things are better to think with; they stay where they are.  So the written language makes the world look like writing itself: something that is stable, observable, and made up of clearly defined parts.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Language And Technology: Theory, Metaphor And Transcategorisation

Halliday (2008: 152-3):
Technology is based on things: complex things, whose parts are measured and consolidated into wholes. Grammatically, these things are construed as nouns and organised into taxonomies, on the principle of meronymy. Measuring and taxonomising are steps toward scientific theory; a theory is a designed construction of meanings (a piece of semiotic technology!) in which the grammar is being used to construe more elaborate and more abstract models of experience: cosmologies, geometries, theories of the socio-political and moral order. For the first two, at least, you need to theorise about generalised processes and qualities: [how] big things are, how fast and in what directions they move, how they change from one state to another; so the grammar turns these processes and qualities into pseudo-things, virtual objects like length, motion, speed, distance, proportion. To do this the grammar uses the resources of transcategorising, which is part of its architecture: it makes verbs and adjectives into nouns, the category which construes phenomena that can be measured, and that are stable and persist through time. Transcategorising is a syntactic operation; it may use formal marking, morphological and phonological, but there may be no formal variation at all.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Universe Of Meaning Created By Written Language

Halliday (2008: 149):
Language creates a metaphor for life, a semiotic universe, or “universe of meanings”, that is the analogue of the material universe in which we exists as physical beings. But the universe of meaning created by written language is one that can be frozen or suspended in time, and so can be reflected on and examined in relative tranquility.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Evolved Ideational Function Of Grammar

Halliday (2008: 147):
The grammar, in its ideational function, is a theory of human experience. And a very effective theory it is, because it has evolved along with ourselves, in what is now recognised to have been the co-evolution of language and the human brain. Constructing our model of reality along these particular lines has proved highly beneficial to our survival as a species on the planet. […] But this is how the grammar — the “content plane”, the lexicogrammar with the semantics — has evolved: it is the theory in terms of which we interpret and interact with our environment.

Friday, 7 February 2014

The Construal Of Experience: The Nucleus Of The Figure

Halliday (2008: 146-7):
Within the configuration we can recognise one part which is the nucleus of the figure; this consists of the process itself plus the one participant that is essential to it as the medium through which the process is actualised […] . This complex of process plus medium is what the grammar theorises as being the cornerstone of the phenomenal world.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Construal Of Experience: Kinds Of Process And Participant Rôles

Halliday (2008: 146):
The kinds of process distinguished by the grammar, in the most general terms, are doing and happening, sensing and saying, being and having; and the rôles played by the participants will vary according to the process type: the doer, the “done-to”, the senser, the “be-er” and so on.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

The Construal Of Experience: Figures

Halliday (2008: 146):
In it’s ideational guise, the grammar is making sense out of the diversity of human experience by construing it into discrete quanta, which we call “figures”. Each figure is in turn construed as a configuration of elements, which are of a small number of different types. If we take English as our exemplar (but English is very typical in this respect), the figure is made up of a process of some kind, a small number of entities playing particular parts in that process, and perhaps one or two circumstantial elements surrounding it.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Textual Semogenic Resource

Halliday (2008: 142):
This blending [of the ideational and the interpersonal into a lexicogrammar] entailed a third component, that we call the textual, whereby the meanings are organised into discourse in such a way that each element in this experiential-interpersonal complex (each clause, since that is the key grammatical unit where most of the blending takes place) makes sense with its surroundings, both its material environment of what is going on around and its semiotic environment of other clauses that have gone before.

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Blending Of Semogenic Resources Into A Lexicogrammar

Halliday (2008: 142):
But the real genius of the semogenic spirit was to blend the ideational and the interpersonal into a single semiotic mode, and integrated form of order that we call a grammar — or more accurately a lexicogrammar, since it includes the lexical items, the words. Meaning evolved as a complex act having both these components intertwined.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Ideational Semogenic Resource

Halliday (2008: 142):
Language evolved, simultaneously with this, as the construal of human experience; this is its ideational metafunction, including the strictly experiential part, construing the world of doings and happenings and the creatures and things that take part in them, and the more abstract logical part where these happenings are brought into relation one with another, relations of time and cause and so on.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Interpersonal Semogenic Resource

Halliday (2008: 142):
Language evolved as the enactment of human relationships: that is what we call the interpersonal metafunction, ranging from the expression of personal feelings, wants and concerns to the complex interactions with other people that create and maintain the social bond.