The Thought Occurs

Friday, 23 December 2016

How To Identify Topical Theme

In a free major clause, topical Theme is the first experiential element of a clause, whether participant, circumstance or process.

It's that simple.

Any textual or interpersonal elements that precede the topical Theme are also thematic.

There is only one topical Theme to a clause.
No clause has both a marked a unmarked topical Theme.
A topical Theme is either marked or unmarked.

If a clause has a marked topical Theme, such as a circumstance, then it has no unmarked Theme.

they who unquestioningly believe that Subject is always unmarked Theme
Theme: marked

they who can think critically and are alert to the absurd consequences of poor theorising
Theme: marked

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Halliday's Predicament

Kœstler (1979 [1959]: 433-4):
The inertia of the human mind and its resistance to innovation are most clearly demonstrated not, as one might expect, by the ignorant mass — which is easily swayed once its imagination is caught — but by professionals with a vested interest in tradition and in the monopoly of learning.  Innovation is a twofold threat to academic mediocrities: it endangers their oracular authority, and it evokes the deeper fear that their whole, laboriously constructed intellectual edifice might collapse.  The academic backwoodsmen have been the curse of genius from Aristarchus to Darwin and Freud; they stretch, a solid and hostile phalanx of pedantic mediocrities, across the centuries.

Monday, 12 December 2016

SFL Is A Dimensional — Not Modular — Theory

Halliday & Webster (2009: 231):
In SFL language is described, or “modelled”, in terms of several dimensions, or parameters, which taken together define the “architecture” of language. These are 
  • (i) the hierarchy of strata (context, semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology, phonetics; related by realisation); 
  • (ii) the hierarchy of rank (e.g. clause, phrase/group, word, morpheme; related by composition); 
  • (iii) the cline of instantiation (system to instance); 
  • (iv) the cline of delicacy (least delicate to most delicate, or grossest to finest); 
  • (v) the opposition of axis (paradigmatic and syntagmatic); 
  • (vi) the organisation by metafunction (ideational (experiential, logical), interpersonal, textual).
The mistaken notion that SFL is a theory of "interacting modules" can be sourced to Martin (1992).

(1) Martin (1992: 390);
Each of the presentations of linguistic text forming resources considered above adopted a modular perspective. As far as English Text is concerned this has two main dimensions: stratification and, within strata, metafunction.
See critique here.

(2) Martin (1992: 391):
Within discourse semantics, the ways in which systems co-operate in the process of making text is much less well understood. … A more explicit account of this co-operation is clearly an urgent research goal; English Text has been concerned not so much with addressing this goal as with making it addressable by proposing four relatively independent discourse modules to beg the question [sic] … . The point is that integrating meanings deriving from different metafunctions is not a task that can be left to lexicogrammar alone.
See critique here.

(3) Martin (1992: 392):
The modularity imposed by stratification is also an important issue. Discourse systems generate structures which in principle cut across grammatical and phonological ones.
See critique here.

(4) Martin (1992: 488):
In this chapter a brief sketch of some of the ways in which discourse semantics interacts with lexicogrammar and phonology has been presented. The problem addressed is a fundamental concern of modular models of semiosis — namely, once modules are distinguished, how do they interface? What is the nature of the conversation among components?
See critique here.

(5) Martin (1992: 490-1):
Grammatical metaphor then is the meta-process behind a text. It co-ordinates the synoptic systems and dynamic processes that give rise to text. It is the technology that let's [sic] the modules harmonise. It is their medium, their catalyst, the groove of their symbiosis, their facilitator, their mediator. It is the re/source of texture.
See critique here.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Time Phase vs Reality Phase

Time phase, as the name suggests, is the unfolding of the process with regard to time: starting vs continuing vs ending.   Reality phase, as the name suggests, is the unfolding of the process with regard to reality: unreal (apparent) vs real (realised). Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 571):
At the deepest level time-phase and reality-phase are the same thing: both are concerned with the stages of becoming. A process is something that emerges out of imagination into reality, like the rising of the sun. Before dawn, the sun shines only in the future, or only in the imagination – as future turns into present, imagination turns into reality.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Ergativity & Voice

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 333n):
Note that ‘transitivity’ is the name for the whole system, including both the ‘transitive’ model and the ‘ergative’ one. ‘Ergativity’ is thus not the name of a system, but of a property of the system of transitivity: within this system of transitivity, we can recognise the ‘transitive model’ and the ‘ergative model’
Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 349):
A clause with no feature of ‘agency’ is neither active nor passive but middle. One with agency is non-middle, or effective, in agency. An effective clause is then either operative or receptive in voice. In an operative clause, the Subject is the Agent and the Process is realised by an active verbal group; in a receptive [clause] the Subject is Medium and the Process is realised by a passive verbal group.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Difference Between Delicacy And Instantiation

Delicacy is a 'type to sub-type' relation (hyponymy).  In terms of logical semantic relations, this is elaboration.  For example, delicacy is the relation between 'academic' and 'lecturer'; 'lecturer' is a sub-type of the more general type 'academic'.

Instantiation is 'token to type' relation.  This is a class membership relation of intensive attribution, which thus combines elaboration with ascription; (the relation between token and type is thus the relation between Carrier and Attribute).  For example, instantiation is the relation between a token, such as 'Peter White', and the type 'academic' (or its sub-type 'lecturer').

In terms of the theoretical architecture of SFL theory, delicacy is a dimension of the system, whereas the dimension of instantiation relates two perspectives on language: the system to an instance of the system.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Taxis Vs Embedding

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 426):
It is important to distinguish between the 'tactic' relations of parataxis and hypotaxis on the one hand and embedding on the other.  Whereas parataxis and hypotaxis are relations between clauses (or other ranking elements), embedding is not.  Embedding is a semogenic mechanism whereby a clause or phrase comes to function as a constituent within the structure of a group, which itself is a constituent of a clause … .  The embedded clause functions in the structure of the group, and the group functions in the structure of the clause.
The distinction between hypotactic and embedded expansions is set out in Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 442) in Table 7(15).

What Is The Advantage Of Distinguishing Between Embedding And Hypotaxis?

In the case of projection, it lays the foundation for the semantic distinction between (pre-projected) facts and (projected) reports (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 28).

Why Projected Clauses Are Not Clause Constituents

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 578-9):
In our analysis (unlike that of the mainstream grammatical tradition), the projected clause is not a constituent part of the mental or verbal clause by which it is projected. There are numerous reasons for this; some of them are grammatical — for example, it cannot be the focus of theme–predication … it cannot be the Subject of a passive mental clause … it is presumed by the substitute so, which is also used to presume conditional clauses in clause complexes … But these, in turn, reflect the semantic nature of projection: this is a relationship between two figuresnot a device whereby one becomes a participant inside another.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Errors In 'Key Terms In Systemic Functional Linguistics' (Matthiessen, Teruya & Lam 2010) [1]

 Matthiessen, Teruya & Lam (2010: 116):
identifying                   descriptive 
Term in the experiential clause system contrasting with ‘ascriptive’. In the identifying mode, one entity is used to identify another. Identifying clauses are realised by the presence of the Token and Value and/or the Identifier and Identified in the transitivity structure of clause. Combinations of these two sets of variables determine coding direction between decoding and encoding, for example, if the Token is construed as Identified and the Value as Identifier the clause is an encoding one, as in the Mint Museum houses a collection of Australian decorative arts. Identifying relations manifest in the environment of ‘intensive’, for example, the new president is Obama, ‘possessive’, for example, (see above), and ‘circumstantial’ relational processes, for example, many mansions line the harbour.
IFG3 pp. 227–239; Matthiessen (1995a: 303–313); Davidse (1992a)

Blogger Comments:

This is untrue. If the Token is construed as Identified and the Value as Identifier the clause is a decoding one.  In encoding clauses, the Token is construed as Identifier and the Value as Identified.

Halliday & Matthiessen [IFG3] (2004: 230):
… either the Token is ‘decoded’ or else the Value is ‘encoded’. If the Token is construed as Identified and the Value as Identifier, the clause is a decoding oneif the Value is construed as Identified and the Token as Identifier, the clause is an encoding one … In other words, the identity either decodes the Token by reference to the Value or it encodes the Value by reference to the Token.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Errors In 'Working With Discourse' (Martin & Rose 2003) — [2]

Martin & Rose (2003: 75):
But there are processes of sensing that can project.  These include processes like 'seeing', 'hearing', 'thinking' and 'feeling':
I heard he was working
I saw that he was leaving 
I forgot whether he left
I was to learn that he had been operating overseas 
I didn't want him to leave
I wish he wouldn't go

Blogger Comments:

The only processes of sensing that can project other figures are those of thinking (cognition) and desiring (desideration).  Here Martin & Rose misconstrue desiring as feeling (emotion), and falsely claim that processes of perceiving (perception) can project.  The 'perceiving' examples do involve projections (metaphenomena), but these are not projected into semiotic existence by the perceiving process.


[[he was working]]
Process: mental: perceptive

[[that he was leaving]]
Process: mental: perceptive

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 137-8):
Sensing projects ideas into existence; the projection may take place either through cognition or through desideration, for example:

I just thought —> I’d tell you that I’d appreciate it.
I think —> I’ll give it up.
They want —> me to crawl down on my bended knees.
Thus the idea ‘I’ll give it up’ is created by the process of thinking; it does not exist prior to the beginning of that process.  Similarly, the idea ‘me to crawl on my bended knees’ is brought into hypothetical existence by the process of wanting.  In contrast, perceptive and emotive types of sensing cannot project ideas into existence.  That is, ideas do not arise as a result as a result of someone seeing, hearing, rejoicing, worrying, grieving or the like.  However, these two types of sensing may accommodate pre-existing projections, i.e. facts, for instance:

It assures me [[that I am as I think myself to be, that I am fixed, concrete]].
I was impressed, more or less at that point, by an intuition [[that he possessed a measure of sincerity the like of which I had never encountered]].
We heard [[that you kindly let rooms for gentlemen]].
Thus ‘that I am fixed, concrete’ is construed as something already projected (hence we could add assures me of the fact that) and this fact brings about the emotion of assurance.

Note again that this is the ideational semantics of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999), not the discourse semantics of Martin (1992), and that, contrary to the claim that discourse semantics is concerned with meaning 'beyond the clause', the discourse analysis of Martin & Rose does not go beyond the meaning that is realised by the clause grammar.

Postscript: It has since been found that there are so many egregious errors in Working With Discourse that a blog has been established — see here — in order to undo as much of the damage as possible.