The Thought Occurs

The Thought Occurs

Friday, 4 October 2013

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. 
So
  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.

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