Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Text Types Vary With The Contextual Features They Realise

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 29):
The criteria we use when we compare the texts in our sample could, in principle, come from any of the strata of language – as long as they are systematic and explicit. However, research has shown that texts vary systematically according to contextual values: texts vary according the nature of the contexts they are used in. Thus recipes, weather forecasts, stockmarket reports, rental agreements, e-mail messages, inaugural speeches, service encounters in the local deli, news bulletins, media interviews, tutorial sessions, walking tours in a guide book, gossip during a tea-break, advertisements, bedtime stories, and all the other innumerable text types we meet in life are all ways of using language in different contexts.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Looking ‘Up’ The Cline Of Instantiation: Text Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 29):
If we start at the instance pole, we can study a single text, and then look for other texts that are like it according to certain criteria. When we study this sample of texts, we can identify patterns that they all share, and describe these in terms of a text type. By identifying a text type, we are moving along the cline of instantiation away from the text pole towards the system pole.

Monday, 28 November 2016

The Cline Of Instantiation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 28-9):
System and text are thus related through instantiation. Like the relationship between climate and weather, the relationship between system and text is a cline – the cline of instantiation. System and text define the two poles of the cline – that of the overall potential and that of a particular instance. Between these two poles there are intermediate patterns. These patterns can be viewed either from the system pole as sub-systems or from the instance pole as instance types.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

System Vs Set Of Instances: System As Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 27-8):
Why then do we refer to them as different things? We can see why, if we consider some recent arguments about global warming, the question is asked: ‘Is this a long-term weather pattern, or is it a blip in the climate?’ What this means is, can we explain global warming in terms of some general theory (in this case, of climatic change), or is it just a set of similar events? An analogous question about language would be if we took a corpus of, say, writings by political scientists and asked, are these just a set of similar texts, or do they represent a sub-system of the language? The climate is the theory of the weather. As such, it does have its own separate existence – but (like all theoretical entities) it exists on the semiotic plane. It is a virtual thing. Likewise with the system of language: this is language as a virtual thing; it is not the sum of all possible texts but a theoretical entity to which we can assign certain properties and which we can invest with considerable explanatory power.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Language As System Vs Language As A Set Of Texts

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 27):
… there are not two separate objects, language as system and language as a set of texts. The relationship between the two is analogous to that between the weather and the climate (cf. Halliday, 1992a). Climate and weather are not two different phenomena; rather, they are the same phenomenon seen from different standpoints of the observer. What we call ‘climate’ is weather seen from a greater depth of time – it is what is instantiated in the form of weather.  The weather is the text: it is what goes on around us all the time, impacting on, and sometimes disturbing, our daily lives. The climate is the system, the potential that underlies these variable effects.

Friday, 25 November 2016

The System Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 27):
The system of language is ‘instantiated’ in the form of text. … The system is the underlying potential of a language: its potential as a meaning–making resource. … This use of ‘system’ is thus different from — although related to — its meaning as a technical term in the grammar. The system in this general sense is the totality of all the specific systems that would figure in a comprehensive network covering every stratum.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Stratal Realisation: Conventional vs Natural

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 27):
The realisational relationship between content and expression, more specifically between lexicogrammar and phonology is largely conventional, or ‘arbitrary’ (with certain interesting exceptions relating to prosody and to two areas of articulation, phonæsthesia and onomatopœia). However, the realisational relationship between the two sets of content strata (semantics and lexicogrammar) and the two sets of expression strata (phonology and phonetics) is natural rather than conventional. Patterns of wording reflect patterns of meaning. Part of the task of a functional theory of grammar is to bring out this natural relationship between wording and meaning. The natural relationship between semantics and lexicogrammar becomes more complex and less transparent with the development of lexicogrammatical metaphor … but the relationship is still fundamentally natural rather than arbitrary.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Stratification: From Protolanguage To Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 26-7):
This protolanguage is a child tongue rather than a mother tongue; it is not yet like the adult language spoken around young children. Children develop their protolanguages in interaction with their immediate caregivers, gradually expanding their protolinguistic meaning potentials. In doing so, they learn the principles of meaning. At some point, typically in the second year of life, they are ready to build on this experience and to begin to make the transition into the mother tongue spoken around them. This transition involves a number of fundamental changes in the linguistic system. A key change – one that makes possible other changes – is the splitting up of each of the two stratal planes into two content strata and two expression strata. Content gradually splits into semantics and lexicogrammar, and expression gradually splits into phonology and phonetics.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Stratification: Protolanguage vs Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 26):
Language is thus organised into four strata – semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology, and phonetics. But these four strata are grouped into two stratal planes, the content plane and the expression plane. When children learn how to mean, they start with a very simple semiotic system, a protolanguage, usually sometime in the second half of their first year of life (see Halliday, 1973, 2003); and we hypothesise that language evolved in the same way (see Matthiessen, 2004a). This system is organised into two stratal planes, content and expression; but neither is internally stratified: content is mapped directly onto expression (vocal or gestural).

Monday, 21 November 2016

Linguistic Strata As A Series Of Redundancies

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 25):
When we say that language is stratified in this way, we mean that this is how we have to model language if we want to explain it. A language is a series of redundancies by which we link our ecosocial environment to nonrandom disturbances in the air (soundwaves). Each step is, of course, masterminded by the brain. The relationship among the strata — the process of linking one level of organisation with another – is called realisation.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Stratification Of The Expression Plane

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 25):
It might be asked whether an analogous stratification took place within the expression plane; and the answer would appear to be ‘yes, it did’, and for analogous reasons, namely separating the organising function from the function of interfacing with the environment. Here, however, the environment is the human body, the biological resource with which sounding (or signing) is carried out. Taking sound (spoken language) as the base, the stratification is into phonetics, the interfacing with the body’s resources for speech and for hearing, and phonology, the organisation of speech sound into formal structures and systems.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

The Stratification Of The Content Plane

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 25):
The stratification of the content plane had immense significance in the evolution of the human species — it is not an exaggeration to say that it turned Homo … into Homo sapiens. It opened up the power of language and in so doing created the modern human brain.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Functions That Language Serves In Human Lives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 25):
We use language to make sense of our experience, and to carry out our interactions with other people. This means that the grammar has to interface with what goes on outside language: with the happenings and conditions of the world, and with the social processes we engage in. But at the same time it has to organise the construal of experience, and the enactment of social processes, so that they can be transformed into wording. The way it does this is by splitting the task into two. In step one, the interfacing part, experience and interpersonal relationships are transformed into meaning; this is the stratum of semantics. In step two, the meaning is further transformed into wording; this is the stratum of lexicogrammar. This is, of course, expressing it from the point of view of a speaker, or writer; for a listener, or reader, the steps are the other way round.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

The Stratification Of Content

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 24-5):
In infants’ protolanguage, which has as yet no grammar in it, the elements are simple signs; for example, a meaning ‘give me that!’ is expressed directly by a sound, like nananana, or maybe by a gesture of some kind. Here we have just two strata, a stratum of content and a stratum of expression (cf. Halliday, 1975, 2004). 
Adult languages are more complex. For one thing, they may have two alternative modes of expression, one of sounding (i.e. speech) and one of writing. More significantly, however, they have more strata in them. 
The ‘content’ expands into two, a lexicogrammar and a semantics (cf. Halliday, 1984a; Halliday & Matthiessen, 1999). This is what allows the meaning potential of a language to expand, more or less indefinitely.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Structural Operations

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 24):
Structural operations — inserting elements, ordering elements, and so on — are explained as realising systemic choices. … When we speak of structural features as ‘realising’ systemic choices, this is one manifestation of a general relationship that pervades every quarter of language. Realisation derives from the fact that a language is a stratified system.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Why 'Systemic' Theory?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 23):
Systemic theory gets its name from the fact that the grammar of a language is represented in the form of system networks, not as an inventory of structures. … structure … is interpreted as the outward form taken by systemic choices, not as the defining characteristic of language. A language is a resource for making meaning, and meaning resides in systemic patterns of choice.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Text As Product

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 23):
A text is the product of ongoing selection in a very large network of systems — a system network.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Delicacy (Elaboration) Vs Rank (Extension: Composition)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 23):
Delicacy in the system (‘is a kind of a kind of …’) is the analogue of rank in the structure (‘is a part of a part of …’).

Saturday, 12 November 2016

System: Underlying Principle (Elaboration)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 23):
The relationship on which the system is based is ‘a kind of’: a clause having the feature ‘positive’ is a kind of clause.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Why System Is More Abstract Than Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22):
It will be clear that [system] is a more abstract representation than that of structure, since it does not depend on how the categories are expressed.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

System [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22):
Any set of alternatives, together with its condition of entry, constitutes a system in this technical sense.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Structure Vs System

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22):
Structure is the syntagmatic ordering in language: patterns, or regularities, in what goes together with what. System, by contrast, is ordering on the other axis: patterns in what could go instead of what.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

The Linguistic CPU

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22):
Grammar is the central processing unit of language, the powerhouse where meanings are created …

Monday, 7 November 2016

Units Vs Complexes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22):
… the structure of each unit is an organic configuration so that each part has a distinctive function with respect to the whole; … some units may form complexes, iterative sequences working together as a single part.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Guiding Principle Of Compositional Hierarchies: Exhaustiveness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 21-2):
The guiding principle is that of exhaustiveness: thus, in the writing system, a word consists of a whole number of letters, a sub-sentence of a whole number of words, a sentence of a whole number of sub-sentences; the number may be more than one, or just one. At the same time, as always in language, there is much indeterminacy, or room for manoeuvre …

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Structure: Syntagmatic Order

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 21):
This is the compositional aspect of language, referred to in linguistic terminology as ‘constituency’. The ordering principle, as defined in systemic theory, is that of rank: compositional layers, rather few in number, organised by the relationship of ‘is a part of’.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Reasons For Adopting A Systemic Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 20):
… one is that languages evolve — they are not designed, and evolved systems cannot be explained simply as the sum of their parts. Our traditional compositional thinking about language needs to be, if not replaced by, at least complemented by a ‘systems’ thinking whereby we seek to understand the nature and the dynamic of a semiotic system as a whole.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Grammar In Functional Terms

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 20):
… from the standpoint of how it creates and expresses meaning.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The Perspective Of Grammar As System

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 10):
The perspective moves away from structure to consideration of grammar as system, enabling us to show the grammar as a meaning-making resource and to describe grammatical categories by reference to what they mean. This perspective is essential if the analysis of grammar is to be an insightful mode of entry to the study of discourse.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Grammatical CPU

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 10):
The clause is the central processing unit in the lexicogrammar — in the specific sense that it is in the clause that meanings of different kinds are mapped into an integrated grammatical structure.