The Thought Occurs

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Reconstruing Email Discussions As Protolanguage

After more than a decade of observing the socio-semiotic dynamics of another social species, rainbow lorikeets, as they continually "renegotiate" their position in the pecking order, it strikes me that the socio-semiotic dynamics of humans on academic discussion lists, such as sys-func and sysfling, can also be construed in terms of the microfunctions of protolanguage.

exterior phenomenon
I want you-&-me
I want it
I think you-&-me
I think it

regulatory: demands for compliance (i.e. bullying)
interactional: collegiality and grooming (e.g. flattery*)
instrumental: requests for goods-&-services (e.g. for articles and analyses)
personal: opinions (e.g. on analyses and theory)

* Some instances:

David Rose to Margaret Berry (Sys-Func and Sysfling 27/9/13):
I can't tell you what a pleasure it is having someone with your experience and stature and personal generosity fomenting discussion on sysfling… its such a great potential resource for the community…

David Rose to Gordon Tucker (Sys-Func and Sysfling 5/12/13):
And I am glad that you are adding your academic weight to correct the epidemic error that process types are classifications of verbs.

David Rose to Margaret Berry (Sys-Func 13/2/14):
 Thank heavens you're still with us Margaret

David Rose to Margaret Berry (Sys-Func 15/2/14):
Thanks Margaret, its such a pleasure to read your posts

I might point out that David Rose has openly boasted, with glee — at least three times in my presence — that if he tells a colleague he likes their work they "roll over and become like kittens".

Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.
— Edmund Burke