The Thought Occurs

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Non-Finite Dependent Relational Clauses Without Verbs

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 425):
There is one type of non-finite dependent clause which is often not recognised because it has no verb in it; for example, with no-one in charge, with everyone so short of money. These are in fact ‘attributive relational’ clauses, with zero alternation of the non-finite verb being (less commonly they may be identifying, eg with that the only solution). The verb be will always be present in the agnate finite clause (eg since no-one is in charge); and in the non-finite it is always possible to insert being, with very little difference in meaning.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Delicacy Vs Instantiation

Halliday (2008: 84, 83):
[With] grammar and lexis […] the complementarity is one of focus, based on the scale, or vector, of delicacy. System and text, on the other hand, form a complementarity of angle, based on the vector of instantiation. …
What I am here calling system and text are two complementary positions of the observer, two observational perspectives on the phenomenon — in this case, on the phenomenon of language. Thus "text" is the instantiation of the system; or alternatively, "system" is text potential.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Status Of Behavioural Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 248-50):
These are processes of (typically human) physiological and psychological behaviour, like breathing, coughing, smiling, dreaming and staring. They are the least distinct of all the six process types because they have no clearly defined characteristics of their own; rather they are partly like the material and partly like the mental.

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 255):
… ‘behavioural’ process clauses are not so much a distinct type of process, but rather a cluster of small subtypes blending the material and the mental into a continuum

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Notion That Ontogenesis Recapitulates Phylogenesis

In biology, this is known as Biogenetic Law, which Thain & Hickman (1994: 67) describe as:
Notorious view propounded by Ernst Hæckel in about 1860 (a more explicit formulation of his mentor Muller's view) that during an animal's development it passes through ancestral adult stages ('ontogenesis is a brief and rapid recapitulation of phylogenesis').  Much of the evidence for this derived from the work of embryologist Karl von Bær.  It is now accepted that embryos often pass through stages resembling related embryonic, rather than adult, forms.
Applied to language, the notion that ontogenesis recapitulates phylogenesis would mean that during the development of language in the child, it passes through ancestral adult stages, such that, for example, the ontogenesis of English involves passing through Proto-IndoEuropean, Proto-Germanic, Anglo-Saxon and Middle English stages.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Why The Explicit Forms Of Modality Are Metaphorical

implicit (congruent) explicit (metaphorical)
modal operator
mental clause
I think
modal Adjunct
relational clause
it is probable

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 624):
The explicitly subjective and explicitly objective forms of modality are all strictly speaking metaphorical, since all of them represent the modality as being the substantive proposition. Modality represents the speaker’s angle, either on the validity of the assertion or on the rights and wrongs of the proposal; in its congruent form, it is an adjunct to a proposition rather than a proposition in its own right.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The Second–Order Nature Of The Textual Metafunction

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 398):
The textual metafunction is second–order in the sense that it is concerned with semiotic reality: that is, reality in the form of meaning. This dimension of reality is itself constructed by [the] other two metafunctions: the ideational, which construes a natural reality, and the interpersonal, which enacts an intersubjective reality. … The function of the textual metafunction is thus an enabling one with respect to the rest; it takes over the semiotic resources brought into being by the other two metafunctions and as it were operationalises them …

Saturday, 22 March 2014

It Is The Grammar That Masterminds The Transformation Of Experience Into Meaning

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.

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 17):
The view we are adopting is a constructivist one, familiar from European linguistics in the work of Hjelmslev and Firth. According to this view, it is the grammar itself that construes experience, that constructs for us our world of events and objects. … Meanings do not ‘exist’ before the wordings that realise them.

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Difference Between 'The Meaning Of Words' And 'Lexis As Most Delicate Grammar'

(1) Words realise meanings — it's the stratal relation between lexicogrammar and semantics. That is, the relation is one of identity, across different levels of symbolic abstraction. See also here.

(2) 'Lexis as most delicate grammar' refers to the cline of delicacy on the lexicogrammatical stratum — the stratum of wording, not meaning. It means that, if the grammatical systems were elaborated in more detail, bundles of the most delicate features would specify individual lexical items — just as phonemes are specified by bundles of features such as {voiced, bilabial, stop}.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Conflation Of Process And Attribute (Qualitative Processes)

Halliday and Matthiessen (2004: 222):
Within ‘quality’ attribution, there is a further option: a small number of qualities may be construed as a qualitative Process rather than as a qualitative Attribute. Thus, alongside will it be enough? we have will it suffice?. (Alternatively, we can interpret such clauses as having a conflation of Process and Attribute.)
Some examples of qualitative verbs (ibid.):
matter, count ‘be important’ …
suffice ‘be enough’,
abound ‘be plentiful;
figure ‘make sense’;
differ, vary ‘be different, varied’;
hurt, ache ‘be painful’;
dominate ‘be dominant’,
apply ‘be relevant’ …
do ‘be acceptable, enough’ …
remain ‘be + still’,
stink, smell, reek … ‘be smelly’ …
and a number of verbs of negative appraisal, some of them abstract versions of ‘be + smelly’, for example stink, suck
eg Giving institutional power to ignorant imbeciles really sucks.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Complements That Can Not Be Subjects

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 123):
Any nominal group not functioning as Subject will be a Complement; and this includes nominal groups of one type which could not function as Subject as they stand, namely those with adjective as Head … There is an explanation of this ‘from above’ in terms of function in transitivity: nominal groups with adjective as Head can function in the clause only as Attributes, and the Attribute cannot be mapped onto the interpersonal rôle of Subject. This is because only participants in the clause can take modal responsibility, and the Attribute is only marginally, if at all, a participant.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

'Fact' Clauses Vs 'Idea' Clauses

Diagnostic: Clause Constituency

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 206):
Thus while ‘fact’ clauses serve as the Phenomenon of a ‘mental’ clause and can therefore be made Subject and be theme–predicated, ‘idea’ clauses are not part of the ‘mental’ clause but are rather combined with the ‘mental’ clause in a clause nexus of projection.

'Fact' clauses realise the Range of sensing, whereas
'idea' clauses realise the projection of sensing.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Two Complementary Perspectives On The Text

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 3, 5):
… (1) focus on the text as an object in its own right; (2) focus on the text as an instrument for finding out about something else. Focusing on text as an object, a grammarian will be asking questions such as: Why does the text mean what it does (to me, or to anyone else)? Why is it valued as it is? Focusing on the text as instrument, the grammarian will be asking what the text reveals about the system of the language in which it is spoken or written. … But the text has a different status in each case: either viewed as artefact, or else viewed as specimen. … specimen here might mean specimen of a particular functional variety, or register …

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Major Difference Between Halliday's Model And Fawcett's

Halliday's model includes systems and structures on both strata of the content plane, whereas Fawcett's treats systems as semantics and structures as lexicogrammar. Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 429):
In Fawcett’s model, there is only one system–structure cycle within the content plane: systems are interpreted as the semantics, linked through a “realisational component” to [content] form, which includes items and syntax, the latter being modelled structurally but not systemically; […] in our model there are two system-structure cycles, one in the semantics and one in the lexicogrammar. Terms in semantic systems are realised in semantic structures; and semantic systems and structures are in turn realised in lexicogrammatical ones.
The motivation for having two system–structure cycles is grammatical metaphor. Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 429):
… grammatical metaphor is a central reason in our account for treating axis and stratification as independent dimensions, so that we have both semantic systems and structures and lexicogrammatical systems and structures. Since we [unlike Fawcett] allow for a stratification of content systems into semantics and lexicogrammar, we are in a stronger position to construe knowledge in terms of meaning. That is, the semantics can become more powerful and extensive if the lexicogrammar includes systems.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Martin's Register And Genre: Context Or Co-text?

Are Martin's register and genre, modelled as strata, theorised on the notion of context or co-text?

Halliday (2007 [1991]: 271):
Originally, the context meant the accompanying text, the wording that came before and after whatever was under attention. In the nineteenth century it was extended to things other than language, both concrete and abstract: the context of the building, the moral context of the day; but if you were talking about language, then it still referred to the surrounding words, and it was only in modern linguistics that it came to refer to the non-verbal environment in which language was used. When that had happened, it was Catford, I think, who suggested that we now needed another term to refer explicitly to the verbal environment; and he proposed the term “co-text”.
Martin, in describing his model of stratification, writes (1992: 496):
… the size of the circles also reflects the fact that the analysis tends to focus on larger units as one moves from phonology to ideology.  Thus the tendency at the level of phonology to focus on syllables and phonemes, at the level of lexicogrammar to focus on the clause, at the level of discourse semantics to focus on an exchange or "paragraph", at the level of register to focus on a stage in a transaction, at the level of genre to focus on whole texts …
As this quote makes clear, Martin’s ‘context’ refers to levels within language — and so to co-text, not context — since 'a stage in a transaction' and 'whole texts' are units of language.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Context Of Situation

Halliday (2007 [1991]: 277-8):
But “context of situation” is not just equivalent to setting. The context of situation is a theoretical construct for explaining how a text relates to the social processes within which it is located. It has three significant components: the underlying social activity, the persons or “voices” involved in that activity, and the particular functions accorded to the text within it. In informal terms, the situation consists in what’s going on, who is taking part, and where the language comes in.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

(Semiotic) Context Of Situation Vs (Material) Setting

Halliday (2007 [1991]: 278):
The setting, on the other hand, is the immediate material environment. This may be a direct manifestation of the context of situation, and so be integrated into it: if the situation is one of, say, medical care, involving a doctor and one or more patients, then the setting of hospital or clinic is a relevant part of the picture. But even there the setting does not constitute the context of situation …

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Theme In Polar Interrogative Relational Clauses

The reason why relational processes in polar interrogative clauses such as Are you crazy? do not exhaust the thematic potential of the clause is that the experiential weight of such clauses is in the participants, not the process. That is why Theme extends beyond the Finite/Predicator to include the Subject as well.

Here are the relevant quotes from IFG3.

How To Identify Theme

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 85):
… the Theme of a clause extends from the beginning up to, and including, the first element that has an experiential function — that is either participant, circumstance or process. Everything after that constitutes the Rheme.

Theme In Polar Interrogative Clauses

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 75, 76):
In a yes/no interrogative, which is a question about polarity, the element that functions as Theme is the element that embodies the expression of polarity, namely the Finite verbal operator. … but, since that is not an element in the experiential structure of the clause, the Theme extends over the following Subject as well.

The Experiential Weight Of Relational Processes

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 213-4):
… the experiential ‘weight’ is construed in the two participants, and the process is merely a highly generalised link between these two participants … Thus the verbs that occur most frequently as the Process of a ‘relational’ clause are be and have; and they are typically both unaccented and phonologically reduced … This weak phonological presence of the Process represents iconically its highly generalised grammatical nature. The limiting case of weak presence is absence; and the Process is in fact structurally absent in certain ‘non-finite’ ‘relational’ clauses in English … and in many languages there is no structurally present Process in the ‘unmarked’ type of ‘relational’ clause … Here the ‘relational’ clause is simply a configuration of ‘Be-er1’ + ‘Be-er2’.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Why Does SFL Give Priority To The Paradigmatic Axis?

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 23):
Systemic theory gets its name from the fact that the grammar of a language is represented in the form of system networks, not as an inventory of structures. … 
structure … is interpreted as the outward form taken by systemic choices, not as the defining characteristic of language. 

1. Because meaning is intrinsically paradigmatic:

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 509):
Meaning can only be construed symbolically, because it is intrinsically paradigmatic, as Saussure understood and built into his own definition of valeur.

2. Because explaining functionality gives priority to the view 'from above':

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 31):
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is one of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features. Explaining something consists not of stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness (agnation).

3. Because evolved systems cannot be explained simply as the sum of their parts:

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 20):
… languages evolve — they are not designed, and evolved systems cannot be explained simply as the sum of their parts. Our traditional compositional thinking about language needs to be, if not replaced by, at least complemented by a ‘systems’ thinking whereby we seek to understand the nature and the dynamic of a semiotic system as a whole.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Why Take A Two-Stratal Approach To Transitivity?

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 503):
… we treat transitivity both within semantics (the paradigmatic and syntagmatic organisation of figures) and within lexicogrammar (the grammar of transitivity): it is a system construed within the content plane of language — both in the ideational component in the lexicogrammar and in the ideation base. This two-stratal approach to transitivity makes it possible to model the resource of grammatical metaphor and is fundamental to work on multilingual systems for generating text.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


The term 'metaredundant' means redundant on a redundant relation.

So, in a tristratal system, such as that of meaning–wording–sounding, the term metaredundancy refers to meaning being redundant on the redundant relation between wording and sounding.

Note that 'metaredundant' does not refer to the relation between any given pair of strata, such as meaning and wording, or wording and sounding.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Distinguishing Realisation From Instantiation

Realisation and instantiation are clearly defined by being characterised in terms of the two types of relational processes.

(1) realisation is an [intensive] identifying relation:
the lower stratum (Token) realises the higher stratum (Value).

The difference is one of (symbolic) abstraction or signification.
eg coin as Token represents two dollars as Value.
These are two levels of abstraction of the same phenomenon.

(2) instantiation is an [intensive] attributive relation:
a text as Carrier (instance/member/specimen) of English language system as Attribute (class).

eg Tony Abbott as Carrier (instance/member/specimen) of Homo sapiens as Attribute (biological category).

Here’s a way to check usage:
If the relation being described crosses strata, then it is realisation.

Instantiation does not cross strata:
the system of semantics is ‘instantiated’ by the semantics of the text;
the system of lexicogrammar is ‘instantiated’ by the lexicogrammar of the text;
the system of phonology is ‘instantiated’ by the phonology of the text.

And at the level of context:
the system of context of culture is ‘instantiated’ by the context of situation.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Multimodality: The Central Integrative Rôle Of Language

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 444):
… all of our experience is construed as meaning. Language is the primary semiotic system for transforming experience into meaning; and it is the only semiotic system whose meaning base can serve to transform meanings construed in other systems (including perceptual ones) and thus integrate our experience from all its various sources.

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.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Why Discourse Analysis Needs Grammatics

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.