Monday, 29 February 2016

Participants: The Nominal Group

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 518):
The participants, on the other hand, which represent the prototype of entities persisting in time and space, are usually not subject to this [grammatical] kind of modification; but they are organised in fairly elaborate taxonomies. These may be construed as systematic relations among different lexical items: thus eyes, nose, mouth, chin are all different parts of face, and lamb, pork, mutton, beef are all different kinds of meat. Something of the same sort happens with verbs, but to a much lesser extent.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Processes: The Expansion Of The Verbal Group

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 517-8):
Processes take place in space-time, which the grammar may model in a variety of different ways: the happening is upstream or downstream, past or future, real or imaginary. Typically, the point of reference is the speech situation: there is some deictic feature relating what is being said to the current “moment” in time and space. In English, the deixis is achieved by locating the process on a linear time-scale with ‘present’ as a fulcrum between ‘past’ and ‘future’, or else by locating it on one or other of a cluster of scales whereby the speaker intrudes his or her own judgement on it. There may be a wide variety of other attachment s to the verb — modalities, aspects, phases and the like, which the grammar construes as features of the process; consider English examples like wasn’t going to start trying to help. On the other hand, the processes themselves are not, in general, construed into systematic taxonomies, and the verb is expanded by grammatical rather than lexical means.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

The Elements That Make Up A Process Configuration

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 517):
As for the elements that make up a process configuration, we have seen that the foundation of the grammar’s theory of experience was laid down in the simplest terms in the evolution of word classes: verbs, nouns and others. But the constituents of a clause are not, in fact, verbs and nouns; they are more complex expressions that have expanded from verbs and nouns, which we call “verbal groups” and “nominal groups”. At this point, we find considerable difference between the two, in the kind of expansion that they engender. The formal patterns vary, as always, among different languages; but the underlying principles seem to be fairly constant.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Mental Processes: Impinging Vs Emanating

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 517):
When it comes to mental processes (and here is one of the contradictions referred to above [p516]), the grammar is uncertain whether the participant other than the Senser is doing duty as agent or not; if I’m doubtful about something, for example, I may say your story doesn’t convince me, which makes your story look like an agent, or I may say I don’t believe your story, which makes the rôle of your story very different — not exactly a goal, but like an expression of scope. Many languages display some such ambivalence about mental processes, which do not match up neatly with material processes in our experience in any obvious way.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Process Types: Commonalities

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 517):
At the same time, all processes are interpreted as having something in common, in that typically there is one participant that is inherently associated with the process — without which the process could not take place at all, like birds in birds are flying. That may be the only one, in which case that participant is held accountable (even if involuntarily!) and the process is said to stop there. Alternatively, another participant may be involved; either as an external agent, like children in children are flying kites, or as a goal, like letter in I’m writing a letter.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Process Types: Favourite Configurations Of Participants

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 516-7):
With each type of process, the grammar associates one or two favourite configurations of participants. These usually vary considerably from one process type to another; in English, there is a strong link between the rôle of “Senser” (the one who knows, thinks &c.) in a mental process and the personal pronouns he and she, such that putting it in this rôle (it didn’t believe me, for example) creates an anomaly — we wonder what this “it” could be?

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Process Types: The Grammar Provides A Flexible Semantic Space

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 516):
In construing experience in this way, the grammar is providing a resource for thinking with. A strict taxonomy of separate process types would impose too much discontinuity, while a bipolar continuum would precisely be too polarised. What the grammar offers is, rather, a flexible semantic space, continuous and elastic, which can be contorted and expanded without losing its topological order. Since it evolved with the human species, it is full of anomalies, contradictions and compromises; precisely the properties which make it possible for a child to learn, because only a system of this kind could accommodate the disorder that is inherent in experience itself.

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Grammar Of Clauses As A Theory Of Process Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514-5):
This part of the grammar, then — the grammar of clauses — , constitutes a theory about the types of process that make up human experience. In English (which is probably fairly typical), the three principal categories that we are calling the material, mental and relational are rather clearly distinct on a number of formal grounds; the other three appear as mixed or intermediate categories lying on the borderlines. (In fact the category of verbal process is more clearly distinct than the other two; and in view of its central place in the semantic system, we have treated it throughout the present study as a primary category.) The total picture is of a continuum; but not between two poles — rather something that we would represent in the form of a circle.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Existential Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514):
What is said to exist may be an entity, something that persists through time, like there’s a letter for you; but it may also, in many languages, be a happening, as in there was a fight. Here we have something that could alternatively be construed as a material process (people were fighting), which suggests that “existential” processes are another intermediate type, something between the relational and material.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Realisation As Identifying Process & Instantiation As Attributive Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514): 
They [relational processes] are modelled, in fact, on the two basic relationships that characterise semiotic systems: realisation (identifying processes such as this is (‘realises’) my sister), and instantiation (attributive processes such as she is (‘instantiates’) a student of law).

Friday, 19 February 2016

Relational Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514): 
… these [verbal processes] shade into something else, which the grammar again construes as phenomenally distinct: relations of identity (including symbolic identity, like red means stop) and attribution. Expressions of this kind, which in English often have the verb be, hardly seem to fit the label “process” at all; but the grammar firmly represents them as such, so we call them “relational processes”.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Verbal (Symbolic) Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514): 
Language itself, of course, is a form of human behaviour; “languaging” constitutes, for the grammar, another distinct type of process, that of “verbal” (or better, “symbolic”) processes. An act of saying is not simply externalising inner events; it is actively transforming them, into an event of a different kind. It then resembles other semiotic events, many of which do not require a conscious information source (… the light says stop).

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Behavioural Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 514):
Here [in English] the grammar postulates a third type of process intermediate between these two [material and mental]: “behavioural” processes, in which inner events are externalised as bodily behaviour, like staring, thinking (in the sense of pondering) or crying.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Material Vs Mental Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 513-4): 
At the same time, while recognising a general category of “process” to construe our experience of change, the grammar also recognises that not all processes are alike. As human beings we become aware (and again we can see this in the actions of tiny infants) that phenomena fall into two distinct types: those happening outside ourselves, which we can see and hear, and those happening within our own consciousness — thoughts and feelings, and also the sensations of seeing and hearing, as distinct from whatever is seen or heard. The grammar construes this as a distinction between “material processes” and “mental processes”. Mental processes are specifically attributed to conscious beings …

Monday, 15 February 2016

Circumstantial Function Of Prepositional Phrases

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 513):
Typically, the most complex is the class of circumstantial elements, because these are themselves often formed as complex constructions; there may be simple words (a class of adverbs), but here may also be constructs like English prepositional phrases, the function of which is to bring in other potential participants but to bring them in indirectly … The theory behind this is that there are two ways in which an entity can be involved: either directly as a participant in the process, or indirectly in a circumstantial rôle, such as the place where the process happens. This indirect participant is often construed as participating in a kind of secondary process tangential to the main one (grammatically, a prepositional phrase is a reduced variant of a clause).

Sunday, 14 February 2016

From Process Differentiation To Word Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 513):
… construing processes in this way clearly depends on generalising whole classes of phenomena; the grammar sets up classes of process, of participant, and of circumstance. There are various ways of doing this; one that is familiar in many languages is by means of a taxonomy of different kinds of word. The classes of word may be distinguished by their internal form, or by the way they are able to enter into larger constructions (or both).

Saturday, 13 February 2016

The Evolutionary Emergence Of Common Words Denoting Classes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 513):
[A] significant step that took place in human grammars … was … the evolution of common nouns — or rather, of common words, since verbs are “common” in this sense: that is, words denoting classes rather than individuals. It is usually assumed that these evolved out of “proper” words, prototypically the names of individual persons; the ontogenetic evidence suggests that this is one source but not the only one, another source being rather in the interpersonal function.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Experiential Metafunction Construes Change

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512):
The basic component of all experience is change: when something changes from one state to another, it projects itself on to our consciousness. This may be something in the external environment … The grammar construes this experience of change in the form of a process configuration: the fundamental element of grammar is the clause, and the clause presents the parameters within which processes may unfold
The grammar does this by deconstructing the process into component parts. Typically … these are of three kinds: first the process itself, secondly certain phenomena construed as participants in the process, and thirdly, other phenomena that are associated with the process circumstantially.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

It Is The Grammar That Construes The Semantics Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512): 
In all these metafunctions, the language does not take over and reproduce some readymade semantic space. There is no such space until the grammar comes along to construe it.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Discourse [Defined]

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512):
… the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

What The Textual Metafunction Enables

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512): 
Textually, the grammar is the creating of information; it engenders discourse, the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts. From one point of view, therefore, this “textual” metafunction has an enabling force, since it is this that allows the other two to operate at all. But at the same time, it brings into being a world of its own, a world that is constituted semiotically. With the textual metafunction language not only construes and enacts our reality but also becomes part of the reality that it is construing and enacting.

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Interpersonal Metafunction Constructs Social Relationships

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 511):
Interpersonally, the grammar is not a theory but a way of doing; it is our construction of social relationships, both those that define society and our own place in it, and those that pertain to the immediate dialogic situation. This constitutes the “interpersonal” metafunction, whereby language constructs our social collective and, thereby, our personal being. The word “construct” is used to suggest a form of enactment — though something on which we inevitably build a theory, of ourself and the various “others” to whom we relate.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Ideational Metafunction: Experiential And Logical

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 511):
Ideationally, the grammar is a theory of human experience; it is our interpretation of all that goes on around us, and also inside ourselves. There are two parts to this: one the representation of the processes themselves, which we refer to as the “experiential”; the other the representation of the relations between one process and another, and it is this that we refer to as the “logical”. The two together construe the “ideational” metafunction, whereby language construes our experiential world.  The word “construe” is used to suggest an intellectual construction — though one that, of course, we then use as a guide to action.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Multiple Aspects Of The Content Plane: Metafunctions

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 511):
We have stressed all along that a language is a system for creating meaning; and that its meaning potential has evolved around three motifs — what we refer to as the “metafunctions” of ideational, interpersonal and textual, with the ideational in turn comprising an experiential component and a logical component. These are the multiple aspects of the content plane — the grammar (in its usual sense of lexicogrammar) and the semantics. Since the powerhouse of language lies in the grammar, we shall refer to them here as aspects of the grammar; but it is important to insist that they could not be “in” the one without also being “in” the other. It makes no sense to ask whether the metafunctions are grammatical or semantic; the only possible answer would be “yes”.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Interpreting Physical And Biological Systems As Semiotic Systems

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 510):
Meanwhile what has become clear is that there is the (by now) familiar interplay between phenomenon and observer. Wehave talked of physical, biological, social and semiotic systems as being categories of phenomena — which in an important sense they are. But they may also be thought of as different stances taken by the observer; thus we find physical and biological systems being interpreted as semiotic systems, in a kind of intellectual game which turns out to reveal new aspects of physical and biological processes. It is obviously beyond our scope — and indeed beyond our capabilities — to pursue these matters here. But they add a whole new dimension to our grammatics, to the concept of a theory of grammar as a metatheory of human experience.

Blogger Comment:

On the other hand, construals of experience as physical and biological systems are semiotic systems: language supported by other semiotic modes made possible by language.  As such, the models can be reconstrued in terms of linguistic theory.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

The Problem Of Cracking The Code Of Language As A Semiotic System–&–Process

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 510):
There are two aspects to this problem. One is that we do not yet fully understand the nature of a linguistic fact: this is the problem of instantiation. The other is that we do not yet fully understand the relationship that is the semiotic analogue of the “cause : effect” of classical physics: this is the problem of realisation.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Why Language Is The Prototypical Human Semiotic System

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 509-10):
Language is set apart, however, as the prototypical semiotic system, on a variety of different grounds:
it is the only one that evolved specifically as a semiotic system;
it is the one semiotic into which all others can be “translated”; and
it is the one whereby the human species as a whole, and each individual member of that species, construes experience and constructs a social order.
In this last respect, all other semiotic systems are derivative: they have meaning potential only by reference to models of experience, and forms of social relationship, that have already been established in language. It is this that justifies us in taking language as the prototype of systems of meaning.

Blogger Comment:

Beyond the narrow world of one species, Homo sapiens, language is least typical of all semiotic systems, being mostly confined to humans and being, on the SFL model, the only semiotic system with a stratified content plane.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Studying Language As Different System–&–Process Types

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 509):
It can be studied as a physical system, in acoustics and in the physical aspect of articulation (air pressure measurements and so on). It can be studied as a biological system, in the physiological aspects of articulation and in the neurophysiology of the brain. It can be studied as a social system, as the primary mode of human interaction. And of course it can be studied as a semiotic system, in the core areas of lexicogrammar, phonology and semantics.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Why Meaning Is Value That Can Only Be Construed Symbolically

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 509):
Meaning can be thought of (and was thought of by Saussure) as just a kind of social value; but it is value in a significantly different sense — value that is construed symbolically. Meaning can only be construed symbolically, because it is intrinsically paradigmatic, as Saussure understood and built into his own definition of valeur.