Monday, 23 December 2019

Fact Nouns And Reference

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 538):
Like nouns of projection, fact nouns can be used anaphorically (or cataphorically) to create cohesion in discourse; for example:
Warwick Town Council originally decided to build its own crematorium, but in April last year it abandoned the idea and entered into a joint scheme with Leamington Town Council and Warwick Rural District Council. 
The Bill is short and modest in scope, and it is doubtful whether the other Private Members’ Bills in the offing will fill all the gaps. This fact may give the Government an extra excuse for counselling patience until the next report from the Molony committee. 
In the first place our business is foreign policy, and it is the business of the Presidential leadership and his appointees in the Department to consider the domestic political aspects of a problem. Mr Truman emphasised this point by saying, ‘You fellows in the Department of State don’t know much about domestic politics’.
Here a passage of text is picked up by anaphoric reference, as in the case of text reference by means of this and that on their own; but fact nouns add a classification and often an assessment (which may be supported by post-Deictics or Epithets) of the discursive antecedent:
There is a subdued aspect of the current political voices: with all the tension generated by the electoral process, it is only a means to an end. The end actually is the transformation in the quality of lives of the people. We must never lose focus of this as an issue. This obvious point can certainly not be over-emphasised.

Blogger Comments:

Here again Matthiessen misrepresents Halliday's model of cohesive reference.  Like nouns of projection, fact nouns do not refer anaphorically or cataphorically.  It is the reference item that precedes the noun (the, this etc.) that refers.  The absence of a reference function of a noun can be made obvious by simply removing the reference item that precedes it, and trying to identify the referent of the noun.

To be clear, any classification or assessment of a fact noun is made through nominal group structure, and is distinct from the system of cohesive reference.