Wednesday, 26 April 2017

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The Textual Component Within The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
… the resource for creating discourse — text that ‘hangs together’, with itself and its context of situation.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Theme + Rheme Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 114):
the Theme + Rheme structure is not so much a configuration of clearly bounded constituents as a movement running through the clause; this is one perspective which it is useful to keep in view.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Deicticity And Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113-4):
The WH- element in turn is part of a wider set embracing both WH- and TH- forms, which taken together fulfil a deictic or ‘pointing out’ function …
The generalisation we can make here is that all deictic elements are characteristically thematic …

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Commonality Of ‘Interrogative’ And ‘Relative’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 113):
Thus all WH- groups and phrases have this dual function: on the one hand, as an element in the experiential structure; on the other hand, as marker of some special status of the clause, interrogative (mood) or relative (dependence).  These two values, interrogative and relative, are themselves related at a deeper level, through the general sense of ‘identity to be retrieved from elsewhere’; the ‘indefinite’ ones illustrate a kind of transition between the two …
The category of WH- element opens up this semantic space, of an identity that is being established by interrogation, perhaps with an element of challenge or disbelief; or put aside as irrelevant; or established relative to some other entity.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

WH- Relative Items And Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112n):
The textual Theme of a relative element is inherently thematic; in this respect, it is like other structural Themes – binders and linkers. Consequently, the topical Theme part is also inherently thematic; but since it is inherent, it seems that it leaves some potential for other experiential elements to follow the WH- element, preceding the Finite.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The Twofold Thematic Value Of WH- Relative Items

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
Like WH- interrogatives, WH- relatives are also characteristically thematic — the group or phrase in which they occur is the unmarked Theme of a relative clause; and similarly they combine topical with a non-topical function, in this case textual …

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Twofold Thematic Value Of WH- Interrogative Items

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
… they are at the same time both interpersonal and topical — interpersonal because they construe the mood, topical because they represent participant or circumstance.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How To Identify Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 112):
… the Theme of a clause extends from the beginning up to, and including, the first element that has an experiential function — that is either participant, circumstance or process. Everything after that constitutes the Rheme.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Theme Summary

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111-2):
(i) Initial position in the English clause is meaningful in the construction of the clause as message; specifically, it has a thematic function.
(ii) Certain textual elements that orient the clause within the discourse, rhetorically and logically, are inherently thematic.
(iii) Certain other elements, textual and interpersonal, that set up a semantic relation with what precedes, or express the speaker’s angle or intended listener, are characteristically thematic; this includes finite operators, which signal one type of question.
(iv) These inherently and characteristically thematic elements lie outside the experiential structure of the clause; they have no status as participant, circumstance or process.
(v) Until one of these latter appears, the clause lacks an anchorage in the realm of experience; and this is what completes the thematic grounding of the message.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Non-Topical Themes And The Markedness Of Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111):
We could set up a paradigm as follows, showing the effect of different initial selections in the clause:
  1. no non-topical Theme, 
  2. with inherently thematic non-topical Theme,
  3. with characteristically thematic non-topical Theme;
it will be seen that the marked topical Theme becomes as it were more and more marked at each step.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Argument For Thematic Status

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 111:
The fact that we do find clauses such as unfortunately protein you can’t store, with marked topical Theme in such an environment, shows that the experiential element following the interpersonal Adjunct still carries thematic status — otherwise there would be no sense in fronting it. This in turn means that an ordinary unmarked Theme under the same conditions is just that — an unmarked topical Theme.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Interpersonal Themes: Characteristically Thematic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
If there is a Vocative in the clause, or a modal or comment Adjunct, it is quite likely to be thematic: these items are characteristic of dialogue, in which the speaker may be calling the attention of the listener, or else expressing his or her own angle on the matter in hand, whether probable, desirable and so on, and hence they tend to be brought in as key signature to the particular move in the exchange – in other words, as Theme of the clause.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Conjunctive Adjuncts: Characteristically Thematic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
The conjunctive Adjuncts (often called ‘discourse Adjuncts’), as noted above, cover roughly the same semantic space as the conjunctions; but whereas conjunctions set up a grammatical (systemic-structural) relationship with another clause, which may be either preceding or following, the relationship established by conjunctive Adjuncts, while semantically cohesive, is not a structural one (hence they can relate only to what has gone before). These Adjuncts often are thematic; but they do not have to be. We may have either therefore the scheme was abandoned, with therefore as textual Theme, or the scheme was therefore abandoned, with therefore falling within the Rheme.  Note how the Theme + Rheme analysis enables us to explain the difference in meaning between pairs of agnate clauses such as these.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Continuatives, Conjunctions And The Quantum Of Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 110):
By the same token, however, since these items are thematic by default, when one of them is present it does not take up the full thematic potential of the clause in which it occurs. What follows it will also have thematic status, almost if not quite as prominently as when nothing else precedes. We can demonstrate this by reference to the concept of ‘marked (topical) Theme’. On the one hand, after a continuative or a conjunction it is still possible to introduce a marked type of topical Theme, either in contrast or as a setting ... On the other hand, such marked Themes appear to be slightly less frequent when there is some inherently thematic item in the clause, suggesting that some of the ‘quantum of thematicity’ has already been taken up.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Inherently Thematic: Continuatives & Conjunctions

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 109):
Those that are inherently thematic are the (textual) continuatives and conjunctions.  As the language evolved, they have, as it were, migrated to the front of the clause and stayed there. Essentially they constitute a setting for the clause (continuative), or else they locate it in a specific logical-semantic relationship to another clause in the neighbourhood (conjunction). In either case, their thematic status comes as part of a package, along with their particular discursive force.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Thematic Function Of Textual And Interpersonal Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 109):
Why do these items favour thematic position in the clause – or, to put the question more meaningfully, why are they associated with thematic function, either characteristically or, in some cases [continuatives and conjunctions], inherently? In the most general sense, they are all natural Themes: if the speaker, or writer, is making explicit the way the clause relates to the surrounding discourse (textual), or projecting his/her own angle on the value of what the clause is saying (interpersonal), it is natural to set up such expressions as the point of departure. The message begins with ‘let me tell you how this fits in’, and/or ‘let me tell you what I think about this’.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Elements Serving As Interpersonal Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 108):
  1. [interpersonal] Vocative. This is any item, typically (but not necessarily) a personal name, being used to address.
  2. [interpersonal] Modal/comment Adjunct. These express the speaker/writer’s judgment on or attitude to the content of the message.
  3. [interpersonal] Finite verbal operator. These are the small set of finite auxiliary verbs construing primary tense or modality; they are the unmarked Theme of yes/no interrogatives.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Elements Serving As Textual Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107-8):
  1. [textual] continuative. A continuative is one of a small set of words that signal a move in the discourse: a response, in dialogue, or a new move to the next point if the same speaker is continuing. The usual continuatives are yes no well oh now.
  2. [textual] conjunction. A conjunction is a word or group that either links (paratactic) or binds (hypotactic) the clause in which it occurs structurally to another clause. Semantically, it sets up a relationship of expansion or projection;
  3. [textual] conjunctive Adjunct (‘discourse Adjunct’). These are adverbial groups or prepositional phrases that relate the clause to the preceding text: they cover roughly the same semantic space as conjunctions.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Interpersonal Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107):
… modal/comment Adjunct ['modal Theme'] … vocative … finite verbal operator [in yes/no interrogative]

Friday, 7 April 2017

Textual Themes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 107): 
… continuative … conjunction ['structural Theme']… conjunctive Adjunct …

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Topical Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 105):
The guiding principle of thematic structure is this: the Theme contains one, and only one, of these experiential elements. This means that the Theme of a clause ends with the first constituent that is either participant, circumstance or process. We refer to this constituent, in its textual function, as the topical Theme.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Theme, Mood & Markedness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 104-5):
Thus the question which element of the clause is typically chosen as Theme depends on the choice of mood.  The pattern can be summarised as shown in Table 3-2.  When some other element comes first, it constitutes a ‘marked’ choice of Theme; such marked Themes usually either express some kind of setting for the clause or carry a feature of contrast. Note that in such instances the element that would have been the unmarked choice as Theme is now part of the Rheme.

Blogger Comment:

Note that this means that when a clause has a marked Theme, it does not have an unmarked Theme as well.  The misunderstanding that a clause can have both a marked and unmarked Theme — along with many other theoretical misunderstandings — can be traced to Martin (1992).

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Adjunct As Marked Theme In Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103, 104):
Imperative clauses may have a marked Theme, as when a locative Adjunct is thematic in a clause giving directions … The adjunct part of a phrasal verb may serve as marked Theme in an imperative clause with an explicit Subject, as in Up you get! … .

Monday, 3 April 2017

Predicator As Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
The imperative is the only type of clause in which the Predicator (the verb) is regularly found as Theme. This is not impossible in other moods … but in such clauses it is the most highly marked choice of all.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Unmarked & Marked Theme In Negative & Positive Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… the principle is the same as with yes/no interrogatives: the unmarked Theme is don’t plus the following element, either Subject or Predicator. Again there is a marked form with you, … where the Theme is don’t you. There is also a marked contrastive form of the positive, … where the Theme is do plus the Predicator … .

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Unmarked Theme In ‘You’ Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… although the ‘you’ can be made explicit as a Theme … this is clearly a marked choice; the more typical form is … with the verb in thematic position. … here, therefore, it is the Predicator that is the unmarked Theme.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Unmarked Theme In ‘You-&-Me’ Imperative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
… here, let’s is clearly the unmarked choice of Theme.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Interrogative Themes & Markedness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 103):
Thus in both kinds of interrogative clause the choice of a typical ‘unmarked’ thematic pattern is clearly motivated, since this pattern has evolved as the means of carrying the basic message of the clause. Hence there is a strong tendency for the speaker to choose the unmarked form, and not to override it by introducing a marked Theme out in front. But marked Themes do sometimes occur in interrogatives.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Thematic WH- Elements Not Directly Part Of The Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 102):
If the WH- word is, or is part of, a nominal group functioning as Complement in a prepositional phrase, this nominal group may function as Theme on its own, e.g. what in what shall I mend it with?, which house in which house do they live in? If the WH- element serves in a projected clause, it may serve as the Theme of the projecting clause, as in Who do you think pays the rent?, which is the interrogative version of you think somebody pays the rent.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Interrogative Clause Structure Embodies The Thematic Principle

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101-2):
Interrogative clauses, therefore, embody the thematic principle in their structural make-up. It is characteristic of an interrogative clause in English that one particular element comes first; and the reason for this is that that element, owing to the very nature of a question, has the status of a Theme. The speaker is not making an instantial choice to put this element first; its occurrence in first position is the regular pattern by which the interrogative is expressed. It has become part of the system of the language, and the explanation for this lies in the thematic significance that is attached to first position in the English clause. Interrogatives express questions; the natural theme of a question is ‘I want to be told something’; the answer required is either a piece of information about an element of the clause or an indication of polarity. So the realisation of interrogative mood involves selecting an element that indicates the kind of answer required, and putting it at the beginning of the clause.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Theme In WH- Interrogative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101):
In a WH- interrogative, which is a search for a missing piece of information, the element that functions as Theme is the element that requests this information, namely the WH- element.  It is the WH- element that expresses the nature of the missing piece: who, what, when, how, etc. So in a WH- interrogative the WH- element is put first no matter what other function it has in the mood structure of the clause, whether Subject, Adjunct or Complement. The meaning is ‘I want you to tell me the person, thing, time, manner, etc.’.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Theme In Polar Interrogative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101, 102):
In a yes/no interrogative, which is a question about polarity, the element that functions as Theme is the element that embodies the expression of polarity, namely the Finite verbal operator. … but, since that is not an element in the experiential structure of the clause, the Theme extends over the following Subject as well.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Theme In Exclamative Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 101):
There is one sub-category of declarative clause that has a special thematic structure, namely the exclamative. These typically have an exclamatory WH-element as Theme … .

Friday, 24 March 2017

A General Principle Of Marking

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 100):
… while a given term may be marked globally in the language, it may be locally unmarked because it is motivated by register-specific considerations.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The ‘Most Marked’ Type Of Theme In A Declarative Clause: Complement

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 99):
The ‘most marked’ type of Theme in a declarative clause is thus a Complement: for example this responsibility in this responsibility we accept wholly. This is a nominal element that, being nominal, has the potentiality of being Subject; which has not been selected as Subject; and which nevertheless has been made thematic. Since it could have been Subject, and therefore unmarked Theme, there must be very good reason for making it a thematic Complement – it is being explicitly foregrounded as the Theme of the clause.* 
* It is also likely to be given the status of New information within its own unit of information. At the same time, some element other than the Complement will be a candidate for the status of New within the Rheme of the clause, as in this they should refuse.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Negative Adjunct Or Complement As Theme —> Finite^Subject

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 98-9):
Marked Adjunct and Complement Themes are followed by the Subject in Modern English — a[n] historical departure from the general principle in Germanic languages that the Theme is followed by, and thus marked off by, the Finite in a declarative clause. The general exception to this departure in Modern English is a clausal negative item as Theme — an Adjunct or Complement with a negative feature that pertains to the clause.*  Such negative Themes are followed by the Finite.

* This applies to circumstantial Adjuncts with a negative feature, e.g. nowhere as a locative Adjunct; and it also applies to modal Adjuncts with a negative (or quasi-negative) feature, e.g. never, hardly.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Marked Themes In Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 98, 100):
A Theme that is something other than the Subject, in a declarative clause, we shall refer to as a marked Theme. The most usual form of marked Theme is an adverbial group … or prepositional phrase … functioning as Adjunct in the clause. Least likely to be thematic is a Complement, which is a nominal group that is not functioning as Subject — something that could have been a Subject but is not … . Sometimes even the Complement from within a prepositional phrase functions as Theme … .

Monday, 20 March 2017

Unmarked Theme In Declarative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
In a declarative clause, the typical pattern is one in which Theme is conflated with Subject; … We shall refer to the mapping of Theme on to Subject as the unmarked Theme of a declarative clause. The Subject is the element that is chosen as Theme unless there is good reason for choosing something else.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Mood Selection

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
Every free clause selects for mood. … A free major clause is either indicative (giving or demanding information) or imperative (demanding goods-&-services) in mood; if indicative, it is either declarative (giving information) or interrogative (demanding information); if interrogative, it is either ‘yes/no’ interrogative or ‘WH-’ interrogative.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Mood: The Major Interpersonal System Of The Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 97):
MOOD is the major interpersonal system of the clause; it provides interactants involved in dialogue with the resources for giving or demanding a commodity, either information or goods-&-services – in other words, with the resources for enacting speech functions (speech acts) through the grammar of the clause: statements (giving information), questions (demanding information), offers (giving goods-&-services), and commands (demanding goods-&-services).

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Meaning Of Thematic Equatives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 95):
The thematic equative actually realises two distinct semantic features, which happen to correspond to the two senses of the word identify. On the one hand, it identifies (specifies) what the Theme is; on the other hand, it identifies it (equates it) with the Rheme. The second of these features adds a semantic component of exclusiveness: the meaning is ‘this and this alone’.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thematic Equatives: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 93, 95): 
In a thematic equative, all the elements of the clause are organised into two constituents; these two are then linked by a relationship of identity, a kind of ‘equals sign’, expressed by some form of the verb be. …
A thematic equative (… a ‘pseudo-cleft sentence’ …) is an identifying clause which has a thematic nominalisation in it. Its function is to express the Theme–Rheme structure in such a way as to allow for the Theme to consist of any subset of the elements of the clause. This is the explanation for the evolution of clauses of this type: they have evolved, in English, as a thematic resource, enabling the message to be structured in whatever way the speaker or writer wants.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Theme–Rheme & Information

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 92):
… if a clause is organised into two information units, the boundary between the two is overwhelmingly likely to coincide with the junction of Theme and Rheme.

Blogger Comment:

This might be true if we ignore conjunctive Adjuncts as textual Themes and comment Adjuncts as interpersonal Themes:
// However // information boundaries are highly likely between textual and experiential Themes //
// Actually // information boundaries are highly likely between interpersonal and experiential Themes //

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Theme–Rheme Vs Topic–Comment

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 89n):
Some grammarians have used the terms Topic and Comment instead of Theme and Rheme. But the Topic–Comment terminology carries rather different connotations. The label ‘Topic’ usually refers to only one particular kind of Theme, the ‘topical Theme’; and it tends to be used as a cover term for two concepts that are functionally distinct, one being that of Theme and the other being that of Given. It seems preferable to retain the earlier terminology of Theme–Rheme.  In the generative linguistic literature, Gruber (1976: 38) introduced the term ‘theme’ in an experiential (rather than textual) sense for a kind of participant role, a ‘theta role’ in generative terms. In work drawing on Fillmore’s (1968) ‘case grammar’, the term ‘theme’ has also been used as a label for deep case, or semantic case. In a different context, ‘theme’ is also used as the name of a stratum in verbal art: see Hasan (1985b: 96).

Monday, 13 March 2017

Theme: Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 89):
The Theme is the element which serves as the point of departure of the message; it is that which locates and orients the clause within its context.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Clause As Message

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 88):
The structure which carries this line of meaning is known as thematic structure. … a form of organisation whereby it fits in with, and contributes to, the flow of discourse.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Clause As Three Meanings Realised In One Wording

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 88):
… we introduced the notion of a clause as a unit in which meanings of three different kinds are combined. Three distinct structures, each expressing one kind of semantic organisation, are mapped on to one another to produce a single wording.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Constituency: Simplest & Prototypical Type Of Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 85):
It is the segmental kind of structure, with clearly separated constituent parts organised into a whole, that has traditionally been taken as the norm in descriptions of grammar; the very concept of ‘structure’, in language, has been defined in constituency terms. This is partly because of the kind of meaning that is expressed in this way: experiential meaning has been much more fully described than meaning of the other kinds. But there is also another reason, which is that constituency is the simplest kind of structure, from which the other, more complex kinds can be derived; it is the natural one to take as prototypical — in the same way as digital systems are taken as the norm from which analogue systems can be derived, rather than the other way round.

Blogger Comment:


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Discreteness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of discreteness means that each structural unit has clearly defined boundaries. But while this kind of segmental organisation is characteristic of the clause as representation, the clause in its other guises – as message, and as exchange – departs from this prototype. In its status as an exchange, the clause depends on prosodic features — continuous forms of expression, often with indeterminate boundaries; while in its status as message it tends to favour culminative patterns — peaks of prominence located at beginnings and endings.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Hierarchy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of hierarchy means that an element of any given rank is constructed out of elements of the rank next below. This is a feature of the constituent hierarchy made up of units and their classes: clause, verbal group, and so on. But the configurations of structural functions show further ramifications of this general pattern. Thus, in the clause as exchange there is slightly more layering in the structure, while in the clause as message there is rather less.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure: Exhaustiveness

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
The general principle of exhaustiveness means that everything in the wording has some function at every rank. But not everything has a function in every dimension of structure; for example, some parts of the clause (e.g. interpersonal Adjuncts such as perhaps and textual Adjuncts such as however) play no rôle in the clause as representation.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Metafunctions And Constituent Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
So far, we have referred to constituent structure as if it was something uniform and homogeneous; but as we embark on the detailed analysis of clause structures this picture will need to be modified. The model of constituent structure that we presented — the rank scale — is the prototype to which all three metafunctions can be referred. But the actual forms of structural organisation depart from this prototype, each of them in different ways.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Metafunction: One Of The Basic Concepts Of SFL Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
… these three kinds of meaning run throughout the whole of language, and in a fundamental respect they determine the way language has evolved.  They are referred to in systemic accounts of grammar as metafunctions, and the concept of ‘metafunction’ is one of the basic concepts around which the theory is constructed.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Significance Of Functional Labels: Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83-4):
The significance of any functional label lies in its relationship to the other functions with which it is structurally associated. It is the structure as a whole, the total configuration of functions, that construes, or realises, the meaning. … It is the relation among all these [functions] that constitutes the structure.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Structure Vs Syntagm

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
… Actor + Process + Goal. A configuration of this kind is what is referred to in functional grammars as a structure (as opposed to a syntagm of classes).

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Clause As Representation: Actor [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as a representation of some process in ongoing human experience; the Actor is the active participant in that process. It is the element the speaker portrays as the one that does the deed.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Clause As Exchange: Subject [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as an exchange, a transaction between speaker and listener; the Subject is the warranty of the exchange. It is the element the speaker makes responsible for the validity of what he is saying.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The Clause As Message: Theme [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 83):
A clause has meaning as a message, a quantum of information; the Theme is the point of departure for the message. It is the element the speaker selects for ‘grounding’ what he is going on to say.

Monday, 27 February 2017

The Typical Unmarked Form [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 82):
That is the form we tend to use if there is no prior context leading up to it, and no positive reason for choosing anything else.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Traditional “Subjects” Differentiated By Metafunction

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 80):
psychological Subject: Theme
grammatical Subject: Subject
logical Subject: Actor

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Class & Function

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 76):
The class of an item indicates in a general way its potential range of grammatical functions. … But the class label does not show what part the item is playing in any actual structure. For that we have to indicate its function. The functional categories provide an interpretation of grammatical structure in terms of the overall meaning potential of the language … .

Friday, 24 February 2017

Group, Phrase & Clause Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 76):
We shall also refer to three classes of group: verbal group, nominal group, adverbial group (also preposition group and conjunction group); and to one class of phrase: prepositional phrase. … We shall not need to discuss clause classes explicitly, although they are in fact present as part of the overall description, as in the distinction between major and minor clauses and within major clauses between free and bound clauses.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
Word classes were traditionally called ‘parts of speech’, through mistranslation of the Greek term meroi logou, which actually meant ‘parts of a sentence’. These began, with the Sophists, as functional concepts, rather close to Theme and Rheme; but they were progressively elaborated into, and replaced by, a scheme of word classes, defined by the kinds of inflection that different words underwent in Greek … .

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Grammatical Class

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
A class is a set of items that are in some respect alike. The most familiar, in our traditional grammar, are classes of words: verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction (and sometimes also interjection), in the usual list. But every unit can be classified: there are classes of group and phrase, classes of clause, and, at the other end of the rank scale, classes of morpheme.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Why The Clause Is Significant

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
The clause, as we said, is the mainspring of grammatical energy; it is the unit where meanings of different kinds, experiential, interpersonal and textual, are integrated into a single syntagm.

Monday, 20 February 2017

What Grammarians Do

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
What grammarians do … is to construct an abstract model of the system of language, based on observation of language instantiated in use.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Evolution Of Language Involves Gradual Changes In Probabilities

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73-4):
If we include probabilistic information in the description of the lexicogrammar, we also pave the way for interpreting the system as one that is always in the process of becoming, not one that is in a frozen state of being: the evolution of language involves gradual changes in probabilities, over long periods of time but also over much shorter periods.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The System Of Lexicogrammar Is Probabilistic In Nature

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73):
Variation in lexicogrammar across varieties of English is, of course, not only qualitative but also quantitative; the system of lexicogrammar is probabilistic in nature, and probabilities vary across varieties of English – dialectal, codal and registerial varieties.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Dialectal, Codal and Registerial Variation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 73):
In general, like any other language, English needs to be interpreted and described as an assemblage of varieties — varieties that are differentiated along different dimensions, with fuzzy boundaries. Thus, English is subject to dialectal, codal and registerial variation, each type of variation having a different locus within the strata of the language and covering a different range along the cline of instantiation.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Language As The Outcome Of Ongoing Grammaticalisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68-9):
So when we talk of the ‘system’ of language, as the underlying potential that is instantiated in the form of text, we are in effect theorising a language as the outcome of ongoing grammaticalisation in all these three dimensions of time [phylogenetic, ontogenetic, logogenetic].

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

The Three Timescales Of Grammaticalisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
Nevertheless we can recognise grammaticalisation as a process taking place in time – in fact, in three distinct dimensions of time.
(i) We can see it in ontogenetic time when we observe children’s early language development, which is built around the creation of proto-grammatical and then grammatical systems. 
(ii) We cannot observe it directly in phylogenetic time, the evolution of human language; but we can track examples in the history of particular languages (for example, secondary tenses and the passive voice in English. 
(iii) We can see it in logogenetic time, the unfolding of discourse, when a passage of some extent – a clause or more – is recapitulated in a single word or group.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

The Term ‘Grammaticalisation’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
A systemic grammar is one that is organised around this concept of grammaticalisation, whereby meaning is construed in networks of interrelated contrasts.  The term ‘grammaticalisation’ itself, however, is problematic; it foregrounds the sense of ‘process’ — something being turned into a grammatical system, and this obscures the point that it is the inherent nature of language to be organised in grammatical systems.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Grammaticalisation: Realisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
Grammaticalisation is not dependent on how the categories are realised. They may be realised in a variety of ways: 
  • a change in the form, articulatory or prosodic, of some word or words; 
  • an addition of some element, to a word, a group or a clause; 
  • a change in the order of words, groups, or clauses. 
The realisation may not be the same for all categories or in all environments; but it will be systematic in some way in the majority of cases, enough to establish and maintain the proportionality – with only a minority of ‘exceptions’ (which are likely to include some of the more frequent items).

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Three Properties That Characterise 'Grammaticalised' Meaning

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 68):
If a meaning is ‘grammaticalised’, this means that it is organised in the language
(i) as a closed system of mutually exclusive terms [closure],
(ii) associated with some general category [generality], and
(iii) displaying proportionality throughout [proportionality].

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Lexical–Grammatical Complementarity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 67):
… even in a general account of the grammar it is important to maintain a comprehensive picture that will show the relation between choice of words (lexical items) and choice of grammatical categories — especially in view of the complementarity between these two.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Why The Grammar Description Hasn’t Been Elaborated To Maximum Delicacy

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 67):
If we maintain the grammarian’s viewpoint all the way across the cline, lexis will be defined as grammar extended to the point of maximum delicacy.  It would take at least 100 volumes of the present size to extend the description of the grammar up to that point for any substantial portion of the vocabulary.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Between Grammar & Lexis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 66):
But if grammar and lexis are interpreted as the endpoints of a continuum, what lies in between them, around the middle? It is here that we locate those items that, on the paradigmatic axis, enter into series which could be regarded from both angles of vision: either, in a grammatical perspective, as rather large and fuzzy closed systems or, in a lexical perspective, as somewhat determinate and limited open sets. This would include, in English, things like prepositions, temporal and other specialised adverbs, and conjunctions of various kinds.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Logogenesis [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 63):
As the text unfolds, patterns emerge, some of which acquire added value through resonating with other patterns in the text or in the context of situation. The text itself is an instance; the resonance is possible because behind it lies the potential that informs every choice made by the speaker or writer, and in terms of which these choices are interpreted by listeners and readers. We refer to this ongoing creation of meaning in the unfolding of text as logogenesis.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Syntagm [Defined] Realises Structure [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 39):
Such a sequence of classes is called a ‘syntagm’. … The significance of such a syntagm is that here it is the realisation of a structure: an organic configuration of elements, which we analyse in functional terms.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Word Classes Viewed 'From Above' & 'From Roundabout'

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 59):
Word classes can be viewed ‘from above’ — that is, semantically: verbs typically refer to processes, nouns to entities and adjectives to qualities (of entities or of processes). They can also be viewed ‘from round about’, at their own level, in terms of the relations into which they enter: paradigmatic relations (the options that are open to them) and syntagmatic relations (the company they keep). On either of these two axes we can establish relationships of a lexical kind (collocations and sets) and of a grammatical kind (structures and systems).

Sunday, 5 February 2017

The SFL Description Of English Grammar Is Designed For Text Analysis

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 57):
The description of English grammar presented here is not designed as a reference grammar. However, unlike the recent reference grammars — or all previous ones for that matter, this description has been designed as one that can be used in text analysis — a task that imposes quite stringent demands on the description.

Blogger Comment:

Cf the (self-promoting) misrepresentation of Systemic Functional grammar (and grammarians) by Martin & Rose in Working With Discourse: Meaning Beyond The Clause (2007: 1, 4):
In this book we are concerned with interpreting discourse by analysing it. For us this means treating discourse as more than words in clauses; we want to focus on meaning beyond the clause, on semantic resources that lead us from one clause to another as a text unfolds. … In a sense then this book is an invitation to grammarians to reconsider meaning in the clause from the perspective of meaning in texts; …
Grammarians are particularly interested in types of clauses and their elements. But texts are usually bigger than single clauses, so a discourse analyst has more to worry about than a grammarian (expanded horizons).
Critiques of these and other misrepresentations can be found at the blog working with discourse.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Systemic Functional Grammar In Relation To Other Accounts Of Grammar: Description

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 56-7):
This introduction to (systemic) functional grammar differs in various ways from other accounts — in terms of both theory and description. … (ii) In terms of description, this book is of course an introduction to a systemic functional description of the grammar of English — constituting one descriptive strand evolving among other ones in systemic functional linguistics. This description may be compared with other descriptions of the grammar of English that have appeared over the past 500 years or so. These descriptions naturally vary in many ways, e.g. 
  • relationship to theory (homogenous or heterogeneous [‘eclectic’]), 
  • relationship to corpus, relationship to time (diachronic vs. synchronic, or some kind of synthesis), 
  • relationship to dialectal variation (what varieties of English are included), 
  • coverage of phenomena — from grammars of very selective coverage via grammars with a registerial focus (such as grammars of spoken English) to reference grammars, and 
  • relationship to intended users — ranging from language learners to professional grammarians.
Reference grammars are, in principle, the most comprehensive descriptions.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Systemic Functional Grammar In Relation To Other Accounts Of Grammar: Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 56):
This introduction to (systemic) functional grammar differs in various ways from other accounts – in terms of both theory and description. (i) In terms of theory, we can locate systemic functional theory of grammar within a general family of functional theories of grammar, contrasting these with formal theories of grammar. Within the family of functional theories, systemic functional theory is unique in its paradigmatic orientation – its orientation to grammar as system, represented by means of system networks; other functional theories are syntagmatic in their orientation. Systemic functional theory also differs from many other functional theories in its emphasis on comprehensive, text-based descriptions – descriptions that can be used in text analysis; other functional theories have tended to foreground linguistic comparison and typology based on descriptive fragments from a wide range of languages.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Description Of The System Of MOOD Is Specific To English

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55-6):
However, this theoretical template does not include details that are specific to particular languages or even to large sets of languages. For instance, the description of the system of MOOD is specific to English: according to this description, there is a system of INDICATIVE TYPE, with ‘indicative’ as its entry condition and ‘declarative’ and ‘interrogative’ as its two terms, and the term ‘declarative’ is realised by the sequence of Subject followed by Finite. This description is grounded in generalisations about English data, i.e. spoken and written texts; and all descriptions must be based on empirical evidence. … Typological generalisations are both possible and desirable, serving many purposes; but they are still grounded in empirical evidence, not based on theoretical hypotheses.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The Theoretical Architecture Of Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55):
The theory includes the ‘architecture’ of grammar — the dimensions that define the overall semiotic space of lexicogrammar, the relationships that inhere in these dimensions — and its relationship to other sub-systems of language — to semantics and to phonology (or graphology). Thus, according to systemic functional theory, lexicogrammar is diversified into a metafunctional spectrum, extended in delicacy from grammar to lexis, and ordered into a series of ranked units.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Particular Description Vs General Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 55):
While a description is an account of the system of a particular language, a theory is an account of language in general. So we have descriptions of various languages such as English, Akan and Nahuatl; but we have a theory of human language in general.  This introduction to (systemic) functional grammar is both an introduction to the general theory of grammar and to the description of the grammar of a particular language, English.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Register: Generalised Analysis Vs Specialised Description

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 54-5):
Analysis and description thus operate at the outer poles of the cline of instantiation within a given language. Regions intermediate between these two poles can be approached in terms of either analysis or description: the account of a text type can be interpreted as a generalised analysis of a sample of texts, and the account of a register can be interpreted as specialised description of the general system; but, in either case, the account will ultimately be grounded in textual data.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Describing A Language: Generalising From The Analysis Of Textual Data

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 54):
If there is no description to draw on, this means that we will gradually have to develop one based on the analysis of a representative sample of texts (a corpus). In other words, describing a language is a process of generalising from the analysis of textual data. The outcome of this process is a description of the system of the language, and we keep testing such descriptions by deploying them in continued text analysis and by applying them to different tasks such as language education or natural language processing.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Analysis Vs Description As Instance Vs Potential

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 54):
If we have access to an existing account of the system of the language (at the potential pole of the cline of instantiation), then we will analyse texts by relating instantial patterns in the system. In other words, we undertake the analysis of texts by means of the description of the system that lies behind them, identifying terms in systems and fragments of structures that are instantiated in the text. In the course of undertaking the analysis, we are likely to find gaps in the description, or even mistaken generalisations. Text analysis is a very rigorous way of testing, and thus improving, existing descriptions because everything in a given text has to be accounted for in the description.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Theory And Data: A Dialectical Complementarity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 53):
We would argue for a dialectical complementarity between theory and data: complementarity because some phenomena show up best if illuminated by a general theory (i.e. from the ‘system’ end), others if treated as patterns within the data (i.e. from the ‘instance’ end; dialectical because each perspective interpenetrates with and constantly redefines the other.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Grammatical Systems Are Probabilistic

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 52):
It is clear by this time that grammatical systems are probabilistic in nature: that, for example, the system of POLARITY in English has to be modelled not simply as ‘positive/negative’ but as ‘positive/negative with a certain probability attached’ (which has been found to be of the order of 0.9 : 0.1).

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Text As The Product Of Instantiation And Realisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 51):
But ‘text’ is a complex notion.  In the form that we typically receive it, as spoken and written discourse, a text is the product of two processes combined: instantiation and realisation. The defining criterion is instantiation: text as instance. But realisation comes in because what becomes accessible to us is the text as realised in sound or writing. We cannot directly access instances of language at higher strata — as selections in meaning, or even in wording.  But it is perhaps helpful to recognise that we can produce text in this way, for ourselves, if we compose some verse or other discourse inside our heads. If you ‘say it to yourself’, you can get the idea of text as instance without the additional property of realisation.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Text & System As Data & Theory

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Whenever we shift our perspective between text and system — between data and theory — we are moving along this instantiation cline. The system … is the potential that lies behind the text.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Grammatical Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Structure is analysed in functional terms, explaining the part played by each element in the organic configuration of the whole. We shall see later on that the configurational view of structure is oversimplified, if not distorted, because the way linguistic units are structured tends to vary according to metafunction. But it is possible to reduce all types of structure to a configurational form, as a strategy for exploring the grammar.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Metafunction–Rank Matrix

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Each system has its point of origin at a particular rank: clause, phrase, group and their associated complexes. … the clause is the primary channel of grammatical energy … . Systems at every rank are located in their metafunctional context; this means, therefore, that every system has its address in some cell of a metafunction-rank matrix … .  For example, the system of MOOD is an interpersonal system of the clause; so it is located in the ‘clause’ row, ‘interpersonal’ column in the matrix.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Organising Principle Is System

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is one of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features. Explaining something consists not of stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness (agnation).

Friday, 20 January 2017

Functional Grammar Is ‘Semanticky’

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
Being a ‘functional grammar’ means that priority is given to the view ‘from above’; that is, grammar is seen as a resource for making meaning — it is a ‘semanticky’ kind of grammar. But the focus of attention is still on the grammar itself.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Trinocular Perspective

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 48):
We cannot expect to understand the grammar just by looking at it from its own level; we also look into it ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, taking a trinocular perspective. But since the view from these different angles is often conflicting, the description will inevitably be a form of compromise.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Overall Meaning Potential As An Aggregate Of Registerial Subpotentials

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 48):
Language has evolved as a fully systemic semiotic system: it is possible to posit and describe the overall meaning potential for a given language, interpreting this meaning potential as an aggregate of registerial subpotentials.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Other Semiotic Systems And The Cline Of Instantiation

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 48):
Another interesting issue is to what extent different semiotic systems extend all the way along the cline of instantiation from the instance pole to the potential pole.  We can ask of any one given semiotic system how systemic it is — which clearly relates to the question of how much individual variation there is across a speech fellowship (or speech community). … it is theoretically quite possible that certain other semiotic systems are more usefully interpreted as operating with systems located somewhere midway along the cline of instantiation; in other words, they are most usefully described in register-specific terms. For example, if we consider semiotic systems that have been included under the heading of ‘visual semiotics’, we can note how highly contextually adapted and specialised systems such as technical drawing, mass transport route cartography and press photography are; it is not immediately clear that they can all be regarded as registerial subsystems of a general visual semiotic system.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Cline Of Integration Of Semiotic Systems

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 48):
One interesting issue that relates to both questions posed above is to what extent the different semiotic systems operating in context are integrated with one another and to what extent they operate independently of one another. To explore this issue, we can posit a cline of integration, extending from completely integrated systems to completely independent ones (cf. Matthiessen, 2009a).

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Relations Between Instantiations Of Language And Other Semiotic Systems

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 47):
If we take ‘text’ to mean an instance of the system of a language operating in a context of situation, then we can ask: (1) how it relates to instances of other semiotic systems operating in the same context of situation, and (2) how semiotic labour is divided among these different semiotic systems – how they complement one another.

Blogger Comment:

Theoretical caveat: Here text (Token) is construed metaphorically as a material Actor, and the cultural situation (Value) it realises is metaphorically construed as its Location.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Language And Gesture

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 46-7):
Most accounts of ‘multimodal text’ so far have probably focused on combinations of written texts and instances of ‘visual semiotic’ systems. From a developmental and evolutionary point of view, it would make more sense to start with spoken texts unfolding together with instances of other somatic semiotic systems (i.e. other semiotic systems using some aspect of the body as their expression plane; see Matthiessen, 2009a, and cf. Thibault’s, 2004, notion of the ‘signifying body’) before moving on to interpret and describe exo-somatic semiotic systems. Indeed, the protolanguages of early childhood tend to be both vocal and gestural in their expression (see Halliday, 1975, 1992d, 2004); and we can hypothesise that the same was true of protolanguages in human evolution (see Matthiessen, 2004a). … An early systemic functional contribution to the study of language and gesture is Muntigl (2004), and the systemic functional work on language and gesture has been followed up by Hood (2011).

Blogger Comment:

Not insignificantly, the theoretical basis of "Hood's contribution to the study of language and gesture" is the unpublished work of this blogger (Cléirigh 2009), which distinguishes — on the basis of ontogenesis and phylogenesis — between protolinguistic, linguistic and epilinguistic gesture–&–posture systems.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Text As Instance Across Semiotic Modes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 46):
The term ‘text’ includes both spoken and written instances of the linguistic system. … However, the sense of text is being extended to other semiotic systems, and scholars refer to instances of e.g. ‘visual semiotic’ systems as ‘(visual) texts’ (thus a painting would be a visual semiotic text) and they also refer to ‘multimodal texts’ — instances of more than one semiotic system.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Textual Semantic Units

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 45-6):
Textually, a text is a flow of information, or, more accurately, waves of information. These wave patterns extend from the whole text through rhetorical paragraphs to local waves, or messages — quanta of information that are realised by clauses in their textual guise, and (in spoken language) also by information units.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Interpersonal Semantic Units

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 45):
Interpersonally, a text is a series of exchanges between speaker and addressee – even if it is a one-sided monologue that is essentially a series of statements acknowledged silently by the addressee. These exchanges are propelled forward locally by moves, which are realised by clauses in their interpersonal guise.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Ideational Semantic Units

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 45):
In describing the structure of the text, we have foregrounded the perspective of the ideational metafunction. Sequences are construed through logical resources and figures through experiential ones; and rhetorical paragraphs and groups of paragraphs can be interpreted as being formed by logical resources – in terms of logico-semantic relations (cf. Halliday, 2001; Matthiessen, 2002a). At the same time, texts are also organised in terms of interpersonal and textual patterns of meaning.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Grammar Beyond The Clause Complex: Cohesion

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 44):
Thus the grammar makes the local structure of the text ‘tighter’, more highly integrated, by constructing it not only as meaning but also as wording. However, the grammar also provides some important guidance beyond the domain of the clause complex, i.e. beyond the most extensive domain of grammatical structure. It does this by means of the resources of cohesion, e.g. by means of cohesive conjunctions such as for example, in addition, in contrast, therefore, meanwhile, which can mark relations between sequences realised by clause complexes and also between (groups of) rhetorical paragraphs.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Relationship Between Situation, Text, and Clause

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 44):
Globally, a text is structured according to the situation it operates in; the contextual structure is projected onto the text, and the contextual elements are realised by patterns of meaning in the text. As a semantic unit, the text consists of semantic domains of different sizes. It is likely to consist of rhetorical paragraphs (or parasemes (see Halliday, 2002d), which may or may not correspond to orthographic paragraphs in writing). In turn, these consist of sequences – sequences of figures, i.e. configurations of processes, participants involved in these and attendant circumstances. These more local domains, sequences and figures, are typically realised grammatically: sequences are realised by clause complexes, and figures by clauses.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Modelling Text Depth: Rank Scale vs Internal Nesting

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 44):
In general, two approaches to the account of the depth of texts have emerged in various traditions: the depth of layering may be modelled in terms of a semantic rank scale operating with some kind of constituency structure (analogous to the lexicogrammatical and phonological rank scales discussed above), as in Longacre’s work since the 1970s; or it may be modelled in terms of internal nesting of relational organisation — along the lines of Grimes (1975) and Beekman, Callow & Kopesec (1981). Within systemic functional linguistics, we also find these two models of the depth of text — the rank-scale model with rhetorical units proposed by Cloran (1994) and the internal-nesting model derived from Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST, e.g. Matthiessen & Thompson, 1988; Matthiessen, 1992, 2002a). The two are applied to the analysis of the same text by Cloran, Stuart-Smith & Young (2007). They are not, of course, mutually exclusive; they can be interpreted as capturing different aspects of the ‘depth’ of texts. And as grammarians we do not have to choose between the two as long as they provide us with motivated accounts of how to relate semantics to grammar.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The Depth Of Texts

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 43-4):
Texts have ‘depth’ – ordered layers of semantic patterns, ranging from the global semantic domain of the whole text to local semantic domain corresponding to domains of lexicogrammatical patterning. This depth is reflected in traditional accounts within composition and rhetoric in notions like rhetorical paragraph and topic sentence, and linguists and other scholars concerned with the analysis of texts and the description of the systems that lie behind them have proposed various frameworks for accounting for the ‘depth’ of texts, including pioneering contributions from the broad tradition of tagmemic linguistics …

Blogger Comment:

Notions like 'rhetorical paragraph' and 'topic sentence' are the concern of writing pedagogy.*  Writing pedagogy is a "macro-proposal" for the writing of texts, whereas linguistic theory is a "macro-proposition" for the modelling of language.

*Note that Martin (1992) rebrands 'introductory paragraph' as 'macro-Theme' and 'topic sentence' as 'hyper-Theme' and presents them as linguistic theory.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Context Structure Projected Onto Text Structure

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 43):
If the situation is one of ‘meaning’ in terms of the sociosemiotic activity then the entire structure of the situation is projected onto the text. For example, in a situation of telling a traditional folk tale, the structure would be (from Hasan, 1984, but slightly simplified):
(Placement ^ ) Initiating Event ^ Sequent Event¹⁻ⁿ ^ Final Event ( ^ Finale) (° Moral)
This structure is projected onto the text operating in the situation – and possibly also onto other accompanying semiotic processes such as a musical score. Each element, or stage, of the structure of the situation is realised by distinctive semantic patterns, as illustrated for Placement by Hasan (1984). These distinctive semantic patterns are, in turn, realised by distinctive lexicogrammatical patterns; but the patterns of wording in the lexicogrammar are always mediated by the patterns of meaning in the semantics.

Blogger Comment:

This new addition to IFG by Halliday's reviser, Matthiessen, reinterprets Hasan's work on 'Generic Structure Potential' (GSP) as 'context structure projected onto text structure'.

Hasan (1984) was concerned with deriving semantic structure 'from above', that is: from context, in accordance with the trinocular perspective advocated by Halliday, together with the principle that a functional theory prioritises the view 'from above'.

Hasan was concerned with semantic structure potential of particular genres, or text types; that is, of particular registers.

Here Matthiessen reinterprets Hasan's register-specific semantic structure potential as the structure of an instance of context that is projected onto the semantic structure of an instance of language.

Note that the aspects of the situation that are not projected onto the structure of the text include:
  • what's going on (field), e.g. a parent reading to a child at bed-time;
  • who's involved, e.g. the tenor relation between parent and child; and
  • the rôle of language, e.g. spoken mode.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Text As Semantic Unit

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 43):
A text is organised internally as patterns of logical, experiential, interpersonal and textual meaning. At the same time, it is organised externally as a unit operating in context: the structure of the context of situation that a text operates in is, as it were, projected onto the text.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This new addition to IFG by Halliday's reviser, Matthiessen, blurs the distinction between semantics and instantiation, as a result of blurring the distinction between 'text' as a unit of the semantic stratum and 'text' as an instance of a linguistic system.  (The topic under discussion is 'semantics'.)

On the SFL model of stratification, a text realises a context of situation.  The relation between them one of symbolic abstraction, a sub-type of intensive identity.  The relation between text and situation, therefore, is not spatio-temporal (text "in" situation).

The notion of a text as 'a unit operating in context of situation' construes 'text' as Actor of a material Process and 'context of situation' as its spatio-temporal Location:

in context of situation
Process: material

This is a (metaphorical) construal of text as a Medium of the instantiation process during logogenesis, not a construal of text as a unit of the semantic stratum.

[2] On the SFL model, context and language are construed together (as different levels of symbolic abstraction).  The metaphor that 'the structure of the context of situation is projected onto the text' construes 'the structure of the context of situation' as Goal/Medium of a material Process and 'the text' as its spatio-temporal Location:

the structure of the context of situation
is projected 
onto the text
Process: material