Wednesday, 9 December 2015

The Outcome Of The Belief That Lexicogrammar (Syntax) Distorts Semantics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 446):
Such analyses were often supported by universalist arguments such as “negation is a verb in certain languages, so it is reasonable to claim that it really is a verb in all”. … they tend 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. This view has largely been abandoned and the notion of a semantically irresponsible surface structure is no longer generally held.