The Thought Occurs

Monday, 21 October 2013

Cognitively Projected Propositions: Reported Interrogatives

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 450-1):

In the environment of ‘mental’ projection, the contrast between statement and question is not concerned with the speech functional orientation of giving vs demanding information but rather with the status of the validity of the information.  In a statement, it is fixed with respect to the polarity and the elements of transitivity (realised by an indirect declarative clause optionally introduced by that), but in a question, it is open with respect [to] the polarity (realised by an indirect yes/no interrogative clause introduced by whether or if) or one (or more) of the elements of transitivity (realised by an indirect wh- interrogative clause introduced by who, which, when, where, etc).  Consequently, mental clauses representing an ‘undecided’ state of mind are used to project indirect questions.  These include clauses of wondering and doubting, finding out and checking, and contemplating, which tend to be characterised by special lexical verbs such as wonder, ascertain …
Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 463):
If the reported clause is interrogative it typically shifts into the declarative; the declarative is the unmarked mood, and is used in all clauses that do not select for mood independently, including all dependent clauses. A yes/no interrogative becomes declarative, introduced by if or whether; a WH- interrogative becomes declarative with the WH- element remaining at the front.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

How To Improve A Theory

Step 1: First make sure you understand the theory in its own terms.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Martin’s Cline Of Instantiation Applied To Martin’s Stratification

Martin's strata: genre, register, discourse semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology

Martin's cline of instantiation: system, genre/register, text type, text, reading.

On this model,

(1) register is simultaneously more abstract than discourse semantics (in terms of stratification) and a sub-system of discourse semantics (in terms of the latter stratum's instantiation);

(2) genre is simultaneously more abstract than register (in terms of stratification), and a sub-system of register (in terms of the latter stratum's instantiation);

(3) register is simultaneously a stratal system and a sub-system of itself (in terms of that stratum's instantiation);

(4) genre is simultaneously a stratal system and a sub-system of itself (in terms of that stratum's instantiation);

etc …

cf Halliday's original (logically coherent) model:

Instantiation / Stratification Matrix

Locating Genre in The SFL Model

Because Martin's model of genre as a level of context isn't theorised according to SFL principles — see for example arguments here here and/or here — components of the model are scattered across the architecture of SFL theory. For example:
  1. to the extent that genre refers to text type, it is a point of variation on the cline of instantiation: specifically, it is register viewed from the instance pole;
  2. to the extent that genre refers to the rôle of language in context, it is defined by features of the system of MODE, and so by the textual metafunction at the level of context;
  3. to the extent that genre refers to the sequence in which ideational and interpersonal meanings are organised, it is within the textual metafunction at the level of semantics.

The Difference Between Material Setting, Context And Cotext

When we construe a person speaking, we construe a material order and a semiotic order of experience.
  • The material order includes the person speaking and their physical circumstances; while
  • the semiotic order includes the projected content of what is said: the wording that realises meaning. 
  1. the term material setting refers to the material order of a person speaking;
  2. the term context refers to the (instance of) culture being realised in the content of what is being said — i.e. the context is of the semiotic order: it is the culture construed as a semiotic system (field, tenor and mode) that is realised in language;
  3. the term cotext refers to the rest of the language that accompanies an identified portion of what is being said.
It is important to understand that the term context does not refer to either the material setting or the (semiotic) cotext.

The misunderstanding that context refers to the cotext and the material setting can be found in Martin (1992: 33), as recorded here.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Semiotic Context And Material Setting

Context is of the semiotic order of experience and realised by the content that is projected from the material order through a 'sayer saying' or a 'senser sensing'. The material order realisation of context is the expression plane of language.
The material setting is of the same order of experience as the 'sayer saying' and the expression plane. It does not materially realise the semiotic context — the expression plane does.