Thursday, 31 July 2014

Hyponymic Elaboration Vs Meronymic Extension

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 92): 
While the choice of ‘level’ in hyponymic elaboration is the choice in delicacy of categorisation, the choice of level in a meronymic taxonomy is the choice in delicacy of focus.  The focus is typically on the whole (i.e. the most inclusive region within the meronymy) even if a specific part is particularly important.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Meronymic Taxonomies As Local To Particular Regions Of The Hyponymic Taxonomy

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 90-1):
There would seem to be far too many discontinuities to create a global meronymy; meronymies tend to occur only where there are contiguous parts of an independent whole. Thus while concrete objects are regularly construed meronymically (with the human body as both a representative example and a model for other meronymies), substances are not; substances are extended through measure (‘unit of’) rather than through part (‘part of’). Similarly, taxonomies tend to be more extended meronymically for concrete regions than for abstract ones (although even things in an abstract region can have parts, e.g. aspect of an idea). Thus there is a generalised set of categories such as part, element, component, aspect; and also a generalised set of ‘facets’ of spatial and temporal orientation, top, bottom, side, front, back, middle, centre; beginning, middle, end.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Meronymic & Hyponymic Taxonomies: Extension & Elaboration

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 89):
The ideation base construes phenomena as organic wholes that may take on rôles in other kinds of phenomena; but it also deconstrues many such organic wholes into their component parts. When these component parts are phenomena of the same type […] this is known as meronymy (or meronymic taxonomy; cf meros ‘part’). We find local taxonomies of this kind, often interlocked with hyponymies. Taxonomies thus embody the two types of expanding relationships […] extension and elaboration. The meronymic type of taxonomy is extension, whereas the hyponymic type is elaboration.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Semantic Delicacy Is Construed Lexicogrammatically

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 87):
In general, then, we can say that the move in delicacy in the ideation base from ‘most general’ to ‘most delicate’ is construed lexicogrammatically as the move from ‘grammar’ to ‘lexis’. This is of fundamental significance in the construal of semantic categories. The early part of the scale of delicacy is construed in the grammatical ‘zone’. This zone provides the resources of grammatical schematisation for construing more delicate categories: those categories are realised lexically but construed according to the systemic parameters of the grammar.  For example, the grammar of the nominal group provides a schema for construing various delicate categories of things, by classifying, describing, ordering and other such strategies.
[Note that 'construe' means to intellectually construct, and that 'realise' is the relation between different levels of symbolic abstraction, such as between the strata of semantics and lexicogrammar.  Thus, the lexicogrammar intellectually constructs the semantics and, as a lower level of symbolic abstraction, the lexicogrammar realises the semantics.] 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Folk & Scientific Taxonomies Relative To Semantic Delicacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 86):
… in the overall meaning base, lexically construed folk and scientific taxonomies do not start at the highest degree of generality in delicacy; they are ordered in delicacy after those systems that are construed grammatically. For example, while ‘plant’ is the “unique beginner” of a particular folk taxonomy, there are several steps in the construal of things that are more general than this — steps that are constructed in the grammar, in categories such as ‘thing’, ‘conscious/non-conscious thing’, ‘countable/non-countable thing’ and the like.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Folk Vs Scientific Taxonomies

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 85):
The ideation base embodies not only folk taxonomies but also a range of taxonomic models such as those used by experts and by scientists. These are all variants within the overall ideational system. […] The move from folk taxonomies towards scientific ones involves both an increase in steps in delicacy and a change in the criteria used for classification.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Basic Level Categories & The Cline Of Instantiation

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 84):
… from the perspective of the system, we can observe that the basic degree of delicacy is most highly elaborated; from the perspective of the instance, we can observe that it is the most frequent. However, we have to allow for considerable variation within a language — in particular, functional or registerial variation within the system according to the context of use, as in the variation between the spoken system of everyday life and the written system of science …

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Delicacy: Basic Level Categories

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 84):
The most favoured ‘band’ in delicacy is that of the basic level: it is taxonomically most highly elaborated, it tends to be learnt first by children, and it construes categories with syndromes of usually salient functional and perceptual properties. […] It has been pointed out that basic level categories are most distinct in terms of how human beings interact with them.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 83):
Delicacy is a uniform ordering from most general to most delicate; but along this scale, semantic systems differ both in the number of distinctions at any one degree of delicacy and in the overall delicacy that is achieved. There are specific differences associated with particular taxonomic regions. For instance, humans and higher animals are much more highly elaborated than lower animals. But there are also general differences in the nature and degree of taxonomic elaboration associated with different ‘bands’ in delicacy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Features In System Networks

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 83):
Any option (category, semantic type) is thus located in the network relative to other options, first within its own system, and secondly in terms of the location of that system relative to others.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Construing As Locating In A Network Of Relations

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82-3):
From a typological point of view, construing experience in terms of categories means locating them somewhere in this network of relations. When we examine this network more closely, we find that there are actually three types of network involved: (1) taxonomic in the strict sense (i.e. based on hyponymy, ‘a is a kind of x / x subsumes a, b, c’), (2) taxonomic in the extended sense (i.e. based on meronymy, ‘d is part of y / y has parts d, e, f’), and (3) eco-functional (i.e. based on selection, ‘g has function m in environment z / environment z comprises functions m, n, p, and function m may be filled by g, h, j’). Of these three, the first provides the global organising principle of elaboration in delicacy; while the third relates paradigmatic organisation to organisation on the syntagmatic axis.
Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 95):
Construing a category thus includes locating it not only taxonomically and meronymically but also eco-functionally …

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Ideation Base As Semogenic Resource For Construing Itself

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
The ideation base is a resource for construing extra-linguistic experience (such as visual experience). But it is also a semogenic resource for construing itself, since it is built up out of the kinds of relations it itself construes — relations such as intensive ascription. Once critical semantic mass has been built up, new categories can be construed internally within the system of the ideation base.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Construing Categories As System Network

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
Categories are thus located within the ideational network. The network defines a multidimensional, elastic space; and locations within this space are not fixed, clearly bounded regions but rather regions with core or focal areas and more peripheral areas that shade into one another.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Construing Categories Globally, Locally And Transcategorially

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
Categories are construed in the network of the ideation base in terms of different kinds of relations they enter into: [1] globally, they are construed in terms of taxonomic elaboration: they form part of a system that is located somewhere in delicacy within the meaning base; [2] locally, they may be construed in terms of meronymic extension: they may form part of a local meronymic taxonomy, such as the cat and its body parts; [3] transcategorially, they may be construed in terms of the rôles they play in some other type of category, such as cat serving in certain participant rôles of figures.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Construing Perceptual Experience As General And Abstract Meanings

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
The earlier experiences are clearly situated by virtue of the child’s perception. But once the process of construal has been established, experience can be generalised in the form of semantic classes, and classes of classes; it can be further explored in terms of the semantic system itself; it can be developed vicariously through discourse, and extended to include purely abstract categories.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Construing Perceptual Experience As Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 82):
Initially the child construes experience of phenomena that are in, or are brought into, a shared visual field; once constituted into meaning, the experience can be shared, validated and scaffolded dialogically in collaboration with other members of his/her meaning group.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Figure As Property

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 81):
As well as being figures in their own right, such configurations can also be used as qualifications of a class of participant, such as cat — as figures serving to qualify that category with respect to its own rôle in the figure. Here the figure is being viewed in a participant perspective; this is achieved by downranking the figure so that it acquires the status of a property. Grammatically, this perspective would be realised in the nominal group as a Qualifier of some Thing …

Monday, 14 July 2014


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 76):
… the definition construes a token-value relation between a fairly delicate semantic type that is lexicalised within the lexicogrammar and a restatement of this type by means of other resources in the ideation base. The restatement draws more on the resources towards the grammatical end of the scale, so that in the definition a lexicalised token is construed as a grammaticalised value. This entails a shift from construing experience through depth in the experiential taxonomy towards construing experience through expansion in a logical sequence.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Construing The Organisation Of Meaning: From Ascriptive To Identifying Mode

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 75):
… in his fourth year [the child] begins to extend his deployment of figures of being to include not only the ascriptive mode (‘a is a member of x’) but also the identifying mode (‘y equals x’) so that he can explicitly relate meanings in his ideation base in the form of definitions. […] He is now in a position to construe new meanings in terms of the semantic system itself; that is, they do not necessarily have to be ‘imported’ from direct extra-linguistic experience.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Construing The Organisation Of Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 74):
When [the child’s] meaning potential has gained critical semantic mass, he begins to construe its own internal organisation explicitly in an effort to sort out taxonomic relations within the system. … Again, the resource for construing ‘categories’ is the intensive ascriptive figure of being; but now both the Carrier and the Attribute are meanings internal to the semantic system.

Friday, 11 July 2014

What 'Construing Experience As Meaning' Entails

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 73):
Construing experience as meaning means locating classes such as squares and circles somewhere in the semantic system, both locally as terms in systems and also more globally in the ordering of these systems in delicacy.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Construing Categories: Ontogenetic Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 73):
The first stage in categorisation is naming individuals as members of classes; instances of visual experience shared by the young child and his father or mother are ascribed to some general class of experience by means of a figure of being. … Here some perceived phenomenon of experience is brought “into intersubjective focus” by being referred to exophorically — pointing verbally, so to speak, to some feature of the material setting, sometimes accompanied by or replaced by a pointing as a gesture. This phenomenon is construed by [the child] as the Carrier of a figure of being, and is ascribed as a member of some general class of experience, construed as the Attribute of the figure. [The child] is ‘importing’ experience of instances into the semantic system by ascribing them to general classes in that system. This is an act of naming, and later this act itself gets named by call.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Construing Categories: Elaboration & Ascription

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 72-3):
Here one of the questions has been what resources are available in the semantic system for construing new meanings — for ‘category development’, both in the ontogenetic time frame and in the logogenetic time frame. One central semantic motif that has emerged from these studies is that of elaboration: both in relational clauses (realising figures of being & having) and in complexes, especially nominal ones (the traditional notion of apposition, realising sequences of participants). Here elaboration is at work ‘distilling’ new meanings over extended passages. That is, the semantic system includes a theory of how meanings are construed; and this theory is itself a resource for construing new meanings
Thus when a young child says cats also aren’t people, he is using a type of figure of being & having to construe a taxonomic relationship in the ideation base, so that the membership of ‘cats’ (construed as Carrier) in the class of ‘people’ (construed as Attribute) can be probed, in this case to ‘outclassify’ cats from the class of people. Figures of being & having of the intensive and ascriptive kind thus construe, among other things, the taxonomic relation among classes or types in the semantic system. The ideation base is thus a resource both for construing experience and for construing its own construal of experience. It has the potential for expanding itself precisely because it includes a theory of how meanings are construed.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Topological Perspective On Systemic Probability

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
The types in the semantic system are instantiated according to probability values; these are manifested as relative frequencies in text. The equivalent in the spatial interpretation of meaning would be curvature or ‘chreodisation’. Chreodisation embodies time and represents the change of systemic probabilities over time.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Topological Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
Here meaning is construed in terms of a spatial metaphor; we can view the ideation base as an elastic, multidimensional semantic space. […] The notion of a vowel space (with it ‘cardinal vowels’) provides a familiar analogy. As a material construction, it is limited to the three dimensions of physical space; but as physiological space, it accommodates variation along a number of dimensions, and brings an elasticity to the expression plane that is in some extent analogous to the metaphorical elasticity that we are ascribing to the plane of the content.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Typological Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
This is one theoretical perspective on the organisation [of the ideation base] — a perspective realised in certain conventional systems of representation, such as the system network. It allows us to bring out quite clearly the global organisation of the ideation base as a resource for construing experience; and it also allows us to show how the semantic types in this global organisation are interrelated …

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The Orientations Of Our Categorising

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
Naturally our categorisation tends to be oriented towards phenomena on a particular scale, those that lie within the bandwidth of those phenomena which are most readily accessible to our senses and which we engage with in day to day existence. This is the realm which impinges most closely on our physical, biological and social being; the semantic system has evolved with this as its primary semogenic environment. Lying beyond this are the micro- and macro-worlds that are accessible to us only by instrument and by inference. It is a powerful demonstration of the potential of the semantic system that it readily fashions new meanings that model these experientially remote domains. What is less obvious, perhaps, is that it has had to be equally resourceful in modelling the ongoing changes in our social environment, where both the overall social order and our local interpersonal networks are constantly being modified and realigned.

Friday, 4 July 2014

What Our Semantic Resources Enable Us To Do

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
There would be indefinitely many ways of construing analogies among different elements in the total flux of experience; what our semantic resources enable us to do is to construe those analogies which yield categories resonating with what as a species, and as members of a particular culture, we have found to carry material and symbolic value.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Categorising Transforms Our Experience Into Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 68):
Categorisation is often thought of as a process of classifying together phenomena that are inherently alike, the classes being as it were given to us by the nature of the experience itself. But this is not what really happens. Categorising is a creative act: it transforms our experience into meaning, and this means imposing a categorical order rather than putting labels on an order that is already there.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Semantic Types: Delicacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 66):
These semantic types are categories to which phenomenological instances are ascribed; they thus embody the fundamental principle of generalising across phenomenological variation. And they are located somewhere in delicacy between the most general type, the all-inclusive class of ‘phenomenon’, and the most delicate types we can recognise as being codified lexically in English.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 64):
Processes serve the most central or nuclear rôle in a figure; they embody the temporal properties of a figure unfolding in time. Other than metaphorical processes, the process element is either polar (positive/negative) or modal (some intermediate degree between positive and negative); it may embody phase, or aspect; and it will refer to the past, present or future time. Polarity and modality derive from the interpersonal perspective on the process.