Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Phylogenesis: The "Hamlet Factor"

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 555)
At the “instance” end, a single highly–valued instance may exert a disproportionate effect: quotations from the Bible and from Shakespeare are familiar triggers of this “Hamlet factor” in English … But such qualitative effects take place against a background of microscopic quantitative pressures, the sort of nanosemiotic processes by which a language is ongoingly restructured as potential out of the innumerable instantial encounters of daily life — the “sheer weight of numbers”, as we sometimes call it.