The Thought Occurs

Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Useful Way To Visualise 'Instantiation'

1. Think of a system network, such as that of TRANSITIVITY (IFG3 p302). Think of it as coloured black.
2. Now, for example, think of a clause.
3. Now colour green all the features and realisation statements that are selected for that clause.

The term 'system' refers to the entire TRANSITIVITY network.
The term 'instance' refers to just the green bits.
The term 'instantiation as process' refers to the process of applying the colour green.
The term 'instantiation as scale' — 'the cline of instantiation' — refers to the relation between the entire system and the green bits.

The green bits are both a subpotential of the system, and the "activation" of that subpotential.

The instance is the "activated" portion of the system. The relation of the instance to the system is the relation of the "activated" portion to the system as a whole.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Distinguishing Logogenesis From Instantiation As Process

Logogenesis refers to the unfolding of a text.  It contrasts with ontogenesis and phylogenesis.

As a process, instantiation 'can be represented as involving traversal of the system network and activation of realisation statements'. 'The instance is thus a set of features selected, with associated realisational specifications — an instantial pattern over the potential'.

'A text can be interpreted as an ongoing process of selection of features — an ongoing instantiation of a more permanent system'.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How A Text Relates To Its Context

Text, as an instance of language
an instance of context (of culture): a (context of) situation.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Deductive And Inductive Reasoning Reconstrued In SFL Terms

deductive reasoning = elaboration of premises

inductive reasoning = extension of premises plus attribution (ie generalisation)

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Why Mathematics Involves Both Language And Epilanguage


Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 606):
Many socio-semiotic systems are combinations of [those realised in language] and [those parasitic on language].

Socio–Semiotic Systems Realised In Language As Registers
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 …

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.


Mathematics, as a contextual field, is realised both in language — eg the cube root of twenty-seven is three (however this is expressed) — and in semiotic systems parasitic on language ("epilanguage"), as when realised as diagrams (figures, graphs etc).

Language can be said as well as sensed:
it has wording (lexicogrammar) as well as meaning (semantics).

Epilanguage cannot be said, only sensed:
it has no wording (lexicogrammar), only meaning (semantics).
That is, a diagram cannot be read aloud like language;
though it can, of course, be described or interpreted in words.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Group Vs Phrase

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 311):
A phrase is different from a group in that, whereas a group is an expansion of a word, a phrase is a contraction of a clause. Starting at opposite ends, the two achieve roughly the same status on the rank scale, as units that lie somewhere between the rank of a clause and that of a word.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hypothetical Material Plane Or Semiotic Plane?

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 119):
The logico-semantic relation of condition, which is prototypically construed as a form of enhancement, could also be construed as a kind of projection … Words such as supposing and assuming are verbs of projection which have come to function as conjunctions in conditional figures; while other words such as imagine and say retain more of their projecting force. … This is an uncertain region in which a figure hangs in the air, so to speak, suspended between the hypothetical material plane and the semiotic one.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Realisation (Token–Value) Vs Instantiation (Token–Type)

"You are Zaphod Beeblebrox?" he squeaked.
"Yeah," said Zaphod, "but don't shout it out or they'll all want one."
"The Zaphod Beeblebrox?"
"No, just a Zaphod Beeblebrox; didn't you hear I come in six packs?"

I am the Zaphod Beeblebrox = Token^Value

I am a Zaphod Beeblebrox = Token^Type (ie Carrier^Attribute)

Sample Difficult Clause Analysis


Four German children owe their lives to an early night


Four German children = Token
owe = Process: relational: identifying: possessive
their lives = Value
to an early night = Cause: Reason realised incongruently as Beneficiary

Four German children owe their life savings to an email scammer

[owe (somebody something) is a possessive verb of benefaction serving as an identifying process (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 246)]

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Complexes And The Rank Scale

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 588n):
… complexes are not higher–ranking units but rather expansions of units of a given rank.

Friday, 6 May 2011

How To Identify Adjunct Type By Metafunctional Time

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 279-80):
But many items can occur both as circumstance and in one of the other functions [Modal or Conjunctive Adjunct]. In particular, prepositional phrases having a nominal group consisting of, or starting with, the word that are potentially either Conjunctive or circumstantial; thus, at that moment might well be a circumstance of Time in a history textbook ('at that moment in history') but conjunctive in a vivid personal narrative ('and just at that very moment'). What the grammar offers here, so to speak, are three planes of reality so that for (say) time, it construes experiential time, interpersonal time and textual time.
Experiential time is time as a feature of a process: its location, its duration or its repetition rate in some real or imaginary history.
Interpersonal time is time enacted between speaker and listener: temporality relative to the speaker–now, or usuality as a band of arguable space between positive and negative poles.
Textual time is time relative to the current state of the discourse: ‘then’ in the text’s construction of external reality, or in the internal ordering of the text itself.
Very often only the overall context will suggest which of the three is being foregrounded in a particular prepositional construction.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

How To Identify Adjunct Type By Location In Mood Structure

circumstantial Adjunct (experiential) in Residue
modal Adjunct (interpersonal) in Mood or Comment
conjunctive Adjunct (textual) not in Mood structure

[from Halliday & Matthiessen 2004: 125]

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Why The Study Of Discourse Depends On the Study Grammar

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 658):
A text is meaningful because it is an actualisation of the potential that constitutes the linguistic system; it is for this reason that the study of discourse (‘text linguistics’) cannot properly be separated from the study of the grammar that lies behind it.

Internal Cause Construed Metaphorically: Verbs Of Proving

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 648):
Relations of internal cause — cause in the sense of ‘x so I think/say y’ — are construed metaphorically by verbs of proving such as prove, show, demonstrate, argue, suggest, indicate, imply in ‘intensive identifying relational’ clauses.

The Significance Of Phylogenetic Stratification Of The Content Plane

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 25):
The stratification of the content plane had immense significance in the evolution of the human species — it is not an exaggeration to say that it turned Homo … into Homo sapiens. It opened up the power of language and in so doing created the modern human brain.