Friday, 30 September 2016

Levels Of Human Individuality

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 610-1): 
The human individual is at once a biological “individual”, a social “individual”, and a socio–semiotic “individual”:
as a biological “individual”, s/he is an organism, born into a biological population as a member of the human species.
as a social “individual”, s/he is a person, born into a social group as a member of society. “Person” is a complex construct; it can be characterised as a constellation of social rôles or personæ entering into social networks … 
as a socio–semiotic “individual”, s/he is a meaner, born into a meaning group as a member of a speech community. Meaner is also a complex construct. … 
These different levels of individuality map onto one other: a meaner is a person, and a person is a biological organism. But the mappings are complex; and at each level an individual lives in different environments — in different networks of relations.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Collective Consciousness

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 609): 
Edelman’s interpretation of higher–order consciousness … suggests that this form of consciousness (unlike primary consciousness) is constituted in language. Language is a socio–semiotic system, so it follows that higher–order consciousness is constituted socio–semiotically; and since socio–semiotic systems are collective, it follows that higher–order consciousness must also be collective. …
But it is the rôle of language in the construction of experience as meaning — as shared activity and collaboratively constructed resource — that gives substance to the concept of collective consciousness as an attribute of the human condition.
Cf Edelman (1992: 133): 
higher–order consciousness adds socially constructed selfhood to this picture of biological individuality … but it is highly individual (indeed it is personal).
Cf Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 193): 
Human collectives: intermediate between conscious beings and institutions… if singular pronominalise with it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Why ‘Construing Experience’ Rather Than ‘Reality Construction’

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 609):
… the concept of experience is, or can be, a collective one: experience is something that is shared by the members of a species — construed as a “collective consciousness”, in Durkheim’s classic formulation.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Why ‘Construing Experience’ Rather Than ‘Reality Construction’

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 609): 
… we want to emphasise the evolutionary perspective, since this allows us to start from what human beings have in common with other species rather than always insisting on our own uniqueness: when we talk of “construction of reality” it is almost impossible to avoid taking our own construction as the norm, whereas parakeets, pythons, and porpoises have very different experiences to construe — different both from each other’s and from those of people.

Monday, 26 September 2016

What Is Construed By The Brain

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 609):
… what is being construed by the brain is not the environment as such, but the impact of that environment on the organism and the ongoing material and semiotic exchange between the two.

Sunday, 25 September 2016


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 608-9): 
… the human brain has evolved in the construction of a functioning model of “reality”. We prefer to conceptualise “reality construction” in terms of construing experience. This is not so much because it avoids metaphysical issues about the ultimate nature of reality — we are prepared to acknowledge a broadly materialist position …

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Commonality Of Biosemiosis And Sociosemiosis

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 607):
… it is the fact that language and the perceptual systems share a common “realisation” in neural networks and neural processes that enables language to function as a dynamic open system, one that persists in time by constantly being modified through ongoing exchanges with its environment.

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Brain As “Realising” The System Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 607):
At the same time, the neural networks can be thought of as “realising” the system of language, in the sense that it is in the brain that language materialises as a process of the bio-physical world. In this perspective, the relationship between language and the brain is itself a semiotic one, analogous to that between the content plane and the expression plane within language itself …

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Brain As Bio–Semiotic System

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 607):
The neural events that constitute the various interface systems are themselves in the broadest sense semiotic: terms such as “communication”, “exchange of information”, that are used to characterise the activities of the brain are less abstract variants of the concept of “semiotic systems & processes”.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Bio–Semiotic Systems That Interface With The Expression Plane Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 607):
These are the physiological systems and processes of the production and reception of speech: motor systems of articulation … and receptor systems of auditory perception … When language comes to be written, analogous systems come into play for the production and reception of visual expressions.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Bio–Semiotic Systems That Interface With The Content Plane Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606-7):
These are the systems of human perception, tactile, auditory, visual, and so on. They are themselves semiotic, in that what the organism “sees” is what is construed by the brain into meaning; this then becomes the “input” to the semantic system and is transformed into higher–order meaning of the linguistic kind.

Monday, 19 September 2016

How Other Socio–Semiotic Systems Relate To Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
These systems enter into relation with language in two ways. On the one hand, they are metonymic to language: they are complementary, non-linguistic resources whereby higher–level systems may be realised … On the other hand, they relate metaphorically to language: they are constructed, stratally and metafunctionally, in the image of language itself, and hence can be modelled on language as prototype, being described “as if” they had their own grammar and semantics …

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Socio–Semiotic Systems Realised Through, & Parasitic On, Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
Many socio-semiotic systems are combinations of [those realised through language] and [those parasitic on language]; for example, religious ceremonials and most types of dramatic performance.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Socio–Semiotic Systems Parasitic On Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
… in the sense that they depend on the fact that those who use them are articulate (‘linguate’) beings. These include the visual arts, music and dance; modes of dressing, cooking, organising living space and other forms of meaning–making behaviour; and also charts, maps, diagrams, figures and the like.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Context Systems Are Realised In Registers Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
Such higher–level systems (theories, institutions, genres), since they are realised in language, are realised as subsystems within the semantics and the grammar. These subsystems are what we have referred to as registers

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The System Of Context

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
… the “culture”, considered as a semiotic potential …

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Metaredundancy In Stratal Realisation

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 605-6):
… the system of phonology realises that of lexicogrammar; the system of lexicogrammar realised in phonology realises that of semantics; the system of semantics realised in lexicogrammar realised in phonology — which we call “language” — realises the system of context (i.e. the “culture”, considered as a semiotic potential).

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Socio–Semiotic Systems That Are Realised Through Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 605):
This category corresponds to Hjelmslev’s (1943) concept of a “connotative semiotic”: a higher–level system that has language as its plane of expression. These include theories: every theoretical construction, scientific, philosophical, æsthetic, and so on, is a higher–level semiotic realised in language. … From a semantic point of view, such systems constitute contexts for language; they can thus be modelled as part of a general linguistic theory, being interpreted as a stratum of language itself.

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Abstractness Of Semantics In Relation To The Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 604):
But in modelling the semantic system we face a choice: namely, how far “above” the grammar we should try to push it. Since the decision has to be made with reference to the grammar, this is equivalent to asking how abstract the theoretical constructs are going to be. We have chosen to locate ourselves at a low point on the scale of abstraction, keeping the semantics and the grammar always within hailing distance. There were various reasons for this. First, we wanted to show the grammar at work in construing experience; since we are proposing this as an alternative to cognitive theories, with an “ideation base” rather than a “knowledge base”, we need to posit categories such that their construal in the lexicogrammar is explicit. Secondly, we wanted to present the grammar as “natural”, not arbitrary; this is an essential aspect of the evolution of language from a primary semiotic such as that of human infants. Thirdly, we wanted to explain the vast expansion of the meaning potential that takes place through grammatical metaphor; this depends on the initial congruence between grammatical and semantic categories
But in any case, it is not really possible to produce a more abstract model of semantics until the less abstract model has been developed first. One has to be able to renew connection with the grammar.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Distinguishing Characteristic Of Homo Sapiens

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 604):
This deconstrual of the content plane into two strata … is a unique feature of the post-infancy semiotic, corresponding to Edelman’s (1992) “higher–order consciousness” as the distinguishing characteristic of Homo sapiens.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Semantics Relates To The Lexicogrammar As A Whole

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 604n) 
… semantics, as a field of study, is located within linguistics. … it is not being used in the traditional sense that it has had in linguistics, of the study of the meanings of words. It is used in the sense it has always had in systemic theory, namely the total meaning–making system of a natural language. Semantics thus relates to the lexicogrammar as a whole. We can talk of “lexical semantics” if we want to foreground the meanings of words (lexical items functioning in open sets), and of “grammatical semantics” if we want to foreground the meanings in closed grammatical systems; but just as the lexicogrammar itself is a continuum, so — even more so, in fact — is there continuity between these two aspects of semantics …

Friday, 9 September 2016

The Central Meaning–Making Resource Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603-4):
The central meaning–making resource of language — its “content plane” — is stratified into two systems: that of lexicogrammar, and that of semantics. The semantic system is the ‘outer layer’, the interface where experience is transformed into meaning. The ‘inner layer’ is the grammar, which masterminds [!] the way this transformation takes place.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Meaning Is Inside Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603):
… our interpretation of meaning is immanent, so that meaning is inside language, not some separate, higher domain of human experience.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Instead Of "Mind" And "Knowledge" …

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603):
… the concept of ‘mind’ should be brought into close relation with other phenomena — biological, social, or semiotic. … But once this has been done, the mind itself tends to disappear; it is no longer necessary as a construct sui generis. Instead of experience being construed by the mind, in the form of knowledge, we can say that experience is construed by the grammar; to ‘know’ something is to have transformed some portion of experience into meaning. To adopt this perspective is to theorise “cognitive processes” in terms of semiotic, social and biological systems; and thus to see them as a natural concomitant of the processes of evolution.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The ‘Scientific’ Model Of The Mind Ignores The Interpersonal Dimension

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603): 
It takes off from the ideational metafunction, but ignores the interpersonal — although our folk perception of consciousness derives from both. Our sense of ourselves as conscious beings … owes as much to the nature of meaning as social action as it does to the nature of meaning as individual reflection.

Monday, 5 September 2016

The ‘Scientific’ Model Of The Mind Ignores Verbal Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 603): 
The scientific model takes off from the grammar of mental processes (seeing, feeling, thinking) but ignores verbal processes (saying) — although the two are both processes of consciousness, are closely related grammatically, and share the critical feature of being able to create meaning by projection. … Our sense of ourselves as conscious beings comes as much from the fact that we talk as from the fact that we think and feel …

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The ‘Scientific’ Model Of The Mind That Informs Cognitive Science

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 602-3):
… ‘mind’ is a construct of the ideation base, owing much to the commonsense picture of the world that is embodied in the everyday grammar; but problematic because it draws on this account onesidedly [ignoring verbal processes on the one hand and the interpersonal metafunction on the other].

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Language Is Not Autonomous

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 602):
It is not autonomous; it is itself part of a more complex semiotic construct — which … can be modelled in stratal terms such that language as a whole is related by realisation to a higher level of context (context of situation and of culture). This contextualisation of language … was the critical factor which made it possible to relate language to other systems–&–processes, both other semiotic systems and systems of other kinds.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Language Is Not Arbitrary

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 602):
… language has evolved as part of our own evolution. It is not arbitrary; on the contrary, it is the semiotic refraction of our own existence in the physical, biological, social and semiotic modes.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Language As A Metaphor For The Material World

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 602):
… the way that language itself is organised, as a stratified, metafunctional system, recapitulates — acts out, so to speak — both the make–up of this environment in natural (physical–biological), social and semiotic systems–&–processes (our metafunctions) and the internal contradictions, complementarities and fractal patterning by which all such systems–&–processes are characterised (our stratification).