Sunday, 31 January 2016

Relating System–&–Process Types By Adding Components

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 509):
A biological system is a physical system with the added component of “life”; it is a living physical system. In comparable terms, a social system is a biological system with the added component of “value” (which explains the need for a synoptic approach, since value is something that is manifested in forms of structure). A semiotic system, then, is a social system with the added component of “meaning”. […] Semiotic systems are social systems where value has been further transformed into meaning.

Blogger Comment:

Semiotic systems are the means by which social (and other) systems form.  No semiosis, no social system. In the unfolding of the universe, physical systems preceded biological systems, and biological systems preceded social systems; but social systems didn't precede semiotic systems.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Different System–&–Process Types Require Different Perspectives

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 508):
For understanding physical systems, the critical approach was that of measurement; the dominant theme was mathematics, and the perspective essentially a synoptic one. But this did not serve well for interpreting biological systems; these are better understood in terms of change, so the perspective had to be altered, to become dynamic, with evolution as the dominant theme. For social systems, however, the dynamic perspective lacked explanatory power, and in the [20th] century it was overtaken by another synoptic approach, the theme of structuralism. Our conception of the nature of social systems has been largely moulded in structuralist terms.

Friday, 29 January 2016

The Problem Of System–Instance Relations Across Different System–&–Process Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 508):
What is problematic is the relationship between the system and the instance; or, to put it another way, what is the nature of a “fact” in these different realms of experience? A biological fact is different from a physical fact, and a social fact is different again; the relationship between that which can be observed, and the system–&–process lying behind what is observed, is significantly harder to establish when the system is a social system, because the phenomena involved are simultaneously all three kinds.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

An Ordering In The Make Up Of System–&–Process Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 508):
Physical systems are just physical systems. Biological systems, however, are not just biological systems; they are at once both biological and physical. Social systems are all three: social, biological and social. This makes them increasingly difficult for us to comprehend. This is not the same as saying that social systems are more complex than biological ones, or biological than physical; there are too many ways in which things can be complex, for any such observation to make sense. But they are increasingly complex in this particular respect; and this means that it is increasingly difficult to recognise the essential nature of the phenomena concerned.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Why A ‘Linear’ Taxonomy Of System–&–Process Types?

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 507):
There is an ordering among these four types of system, which we can appreciate most readily, perhaps, at the “meta” level: this is the order in which they have come to be studied and interpreted, in the past five hundred years of human scholarship. […] In other words, there was a certain intellectual distance to be covered in bringing a comparable kind of insight into these different types of system–&–process.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Terms 'Semiotic' And ‘System’

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 507):
As we conceive of it, the term “semiotic” is framed within a linear taxonomy of “physical – biological – social – semiotic”; and the term “system” is a shortened form of “system–&–process”, there being no single word that encapsulates both the synoptic and dynamic perspectives (we have referred to the term “climatic system” with the same observation on how it is to be understood).

Monday, 25 January 2016

Polysystemicity Of The Semantic System

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 506):
The system is polysystemic from the point of view of contextual diversification: given a particular context type or a set of related types, some parts of the overall semantic system will be deployed in a systematic way whereas others will remain inactive. For instance, if contexts where the goal is to instruct somebody to a procedure were the only source of evidence for the semantic system, we could safely ignore figures of sensing and saying and the logical relationship of projection. And yet in the general system, which is the overall meaning–making resource deployed across all the different types of context, these figures and sequences turn out to be essential both to the functioning of the semantic system and to our understanding of its fundamental principles.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Complementarities In The Semantic System

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 505-6): 
The system often embodies complementarities providing more than one way of construing similar types of experience — for example, construing perception either as inert sensing or as active behaviour, or construing phenomena of all kinds either congruently or metaphorically. If one is concerned with a restricted, designed semiotic system, then the appropriate strategy, when one is faced with more than one option in natural language, may be to select one canonical form; but if one’s concern is with language as a whole, the only response that will hold up in the long term is to acknowledge the variation and explore its function.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Choosing Between Descriptions: Fawcett’s Relational Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 505):
Fawcett’s alternative model for relational processes, with its particular features such as treating ‘giving’ and ‘placing’ as agentive possessives and locatives (‘make…have’, ‘make…be at’) rather than as material dispositives, has to be understood in its total explanatory context: 
(i) in relation to its repercussions within the transitivity system, both the trinocular perspective on transitivity itself (from above, as generalisations about meaning; from roundabout, its consequences for agnateness, delicacy and the move towards lexis; from below, as regularities in the realisation) and the overall topology of content — transitivity in relation to the semantic construal of causality, agency, disposal, and so on; 
(ii) in relation to Fawcett’s architectural design, which differs from ours in having a single system–structure cycle for the two strata of semantics and lexicogrammar (his “syntax”) and then adding a further level of description that is expressed in cognitive terms.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Choosing Between Descriptions

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 505):
This is not to say, of course, when a choice is made among a set of alternative descriptions for representing features in grammar that are inherently indeterminate, like the types of process in a transitivity system, that the choice is insignificant, or merely random. On the contrary: it resonates through the grammatics as a whole (or should do, if the description has any claim to be comprehensive). Again there is the analogy between the grammatics and the grammar: just as no region of the grammar is isolated from the rest, so every descriptive statement has consequences throughout the description.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

No Unique ‘Correct’ Description

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
… there is no unique ‘correct description’ of a semiotic system, or any other phenomena that have to do with meaning. Stratal relations are not relations of cause & effect, and a stratified system cannot be reduced to constructions of content–expression pairs.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Fawcett’s Relational Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
His abandonment of the distinction between attributive and identifying seems harder to motivate, since this cannot in fact be explained as a textual (thematic) system in the way that Fawcett proposes.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Fawcett’s Relational Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
Fawcett incorporates into the “relational: possessive” category, processes of giving and acquiring; reduces the circumstantial to locational processes only; and includes within these, processes of going and sending. As is to be expected, this alternative analysis embodies certain generalisations that are not made in our account of figures, and ignores certain others which are.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Martin’s Nuclear Transitivity As Orientation

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
As we have already noted, Martin, in his systemic treatment of processes in Tagalog, offers a different interpretation of nuclear transitivity: he defines it in terms of orientation, rather than configuration, and hence operates with a significantly different concept of participant function.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Trinocular Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 504):
A stratified semiotic defines three perspectives, which (following the most familiar metaphor) we refer to as ‘from above’, ‘from roundabout’, and ‘from below’: looking at a given stratum from above means treating it as the expression of some content, looking at it from below means treating it as the content of some expression, while looking at it from roundabout means treating it in the context of (ie in relation to other features of) its own stratum.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Process Types As Regions In An N–Dimensional Semantic Space

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503-4): 
In our treatment of figures in the ideation base, we stressed the fluidity of the boundaries among the various types of figure: doing–&–happening, sensing, saying, being–&–having. We construe these in the grammar as a system of process types: at primary delicacy, material, mental, verbal, relational. These are sections on a continuum — or better, regions in an n–dimensional semantic space; but they are not demarcated by any uniquely self-selecting set of criteria.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Grammatics As Metaphor For The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
We have tried to show that such indeterminacy [inherent in language] as a positive feature, and build it into our meta-construal — not as some wayward or exceptional extravagance but as an unmarked state of affairs that is recognised to be the norm. To this extent, our grammatics becomes itself a metaphor for the grammar — that is, to the extent that we are able to enact this indeterminacy in our own representations.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Inherent Indeterminacy Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503): 
We have drawn attention at various points to the overall indeterminacy of language, something that we see as a necessary condition of its ability to function in the construal of experience. Our experience of the ‘goings-on’ in and around ourselves is so rich and multi-faceted that no semiotic system that attempted to impose on it a rule-bound, determinate frame of reference would be ‘functional’ as a resource for survival.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Why Take A Two-Stratal Approach To Transitivity

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503): 
… we treat transitivity both within semantics (the paradigmatic and syntagmatic organisation of figures) and within lexicogrammar (the grammar of transitivity): it is a system construed within the content plane of language — both in the ideational component in the lexicogrammar and in the ideation base. This two-stratal approach to transitivity makes it possible to model the resource of grammatical metaphor and is fundamental to work on multilingual systems for generating text.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Alternative Perspectives On Transitivity

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
The participant rôles Medium, Agent, Range and Beneficiary embody not just a different degree of generality from the process-specific participant rôles Actor, Goal, Recipient; Senser, Phenomenon; etc but more importantly, a different perspective. They capture different kinds of facts about the transitivity system of a language.

Monday, 11 January 2016

The Basis Of Process Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 495):
… the process types used in systemic interpretations are based on considerations of the nature of nuclear transitivity — how participants interact, what kinds of entities they are, whether projection is possible, etc.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Agent [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 494):
… in addition to the Medium, there may be another participant functioning as an external cause. … Either the process is represented as self-engendering, in which case there is no separate Agent; or it is represented as engendered from outside, in which case there is another participant functioning as Agent.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Medium: Characteristics

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 494):
… the Medium is restricted relative to the Process in the same way regardless of whether the clause is effective (+ Agent) or middle …
the Medium is the participant that is most bonded to the Process by lexical collocation.
the Medium is the element which combines with the Process to form the clause nucleus; it is the nucleus which determines how the process is subclassified and interpreted
the Medium is the one participant that cannot be treated circumstantially; hence (other than one special kind of clause, the medio-passive) it is never mediated by a preposition.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Medium [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 493-4):
Every process has associated with it one participant that is the key figure in that process; this is the one through which the process is actualised, and without which there would be no process at all. … It is the entity through the medium of which the process comes into existence.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Being–&–Having And Expansion Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 490):
…the different types of expansion (elaboration, extension and enhancement) are manifested as different subtypes of being & having — intensive, possessive, and circumstantial…

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Figures Of Sensing: Metaphenomena

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 490):
…one of the other reasons for recognising sensing as a distinct type: as we have seen, a figure of sensing may combine with a metaphenomenon or fact (It frightened/surprised/pleased John that there was no reply to his letter). They are, of course, quite different from figures of doing in this respect. For example, while metaphenomena can please and frighten conscious beings (sensing), they cannot open doors (doing).

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Figures Of Sensing: Impinging Vs Emanating

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 489):
In other words, a figure of sensing, configured as Senser + Process + Phenomenon, can be represented either as the Phenomenon impinging on the Senser’s mental processing (effective: Phenomenon as Agent) or as the Senser’s mental processing ranging over the Phenomenon (middle: Phenomenon as Range). This kind of a reversal of perspective on the figure (like/please, fear/frighten, believe/convince, etc.) is a special feature of sensing and one important reason for recognising it as a distinct type. (This is also true of the metaphorical variant; cf. John was afraid of the dog : The dog was scary [to John].)

Monday, 4 January 2016

Ideational Metaphor

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 489):
Grammatical metaphors do reorganise experience; that is one reason why they are identified as metaphors, rather than simply being incorporated into the congruent options.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Intentionality: Ideational

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 478):
Intentionality can be construed in the clause as circumstances of Manner (‘according to plan’, e.g. he found the book by chance; he turned left by mistake; he turned left intentionally) and as verbal group complexes of projection or enhancement realising the Process (e.g. she intended to leave at 4; she happened to be in the neighbourhood). It may also be a factor in certain lexical contrasts within delicate process types; but we have found no evidence that intentionality is a primary variable in the semantic system of figures and its grammatical construal in transitivity. Rather, whether an example is read as construing something as intentional or non-intentional will depend on a variety of factors, such as the consciousness of the most active participant.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Intentionality: Interpersonal

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 478):
In English, intentionality can be enacted within the interpersonal system of imperative modality (modulation) in the form of inclination, as in he won’t be ordered around (‘refuses to be’). It is independent of ideational agency; inclination is oriented towards the Subject, i.e. the modally responsible element of the clause, rather than (say) the Actor or Agent (as our passive example illustrates).

Friday, 1 January 2016

Intentionality: Ideational Vs Interpersonal

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 478):
To the extent that intentionality enters into the semantic system of a language, it could in principle be construed ideationally as some aspect of the overall system of figures or be enacted interpersonally as a modality of inclination. If it is construed ideationally, it could in principle be a global property of a figure as a whole or a local property of the process or a participant.