The Thought Occurs

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Jim Martin "Honouring" The Late Ruqaiya Hasan

In this third session of the symposium to honour the late Ruqaiya Hasan, Jim Martin insinuated that Ruqaiya Hasan had knowingly used the work of Mitchell on text structure without admitting it. That's right, Jim Martin actually impugned the integrity of a deceased colleague at a gathering convened to honour her.

However, a glance at Hasan's work on text structure reveals that the relevant Mitchell publication is cited in her list of references (Hasan 1985: 121):
Mitchell, T.F. (1957), 'The language of buying and selling in Cyrenaica: A situational statement', Hesperis 26.  Reprinted in T. F. Mitchell Principles of Firthian Linguistics (Longmans Linguistics Library), Longman, London, 1975.
In his English Text (1992: 432), Martin had previously insinuated that Hasan's motivations for modelling texture were Chomskyan in orientation, as part of his critique of her model.  See my analysis of Martin's assessment here.

For a list of some of the misrepresentations of Hasan's work in Martin (1992), see here.

Martin ended his "honouring" of Ruqaiya Hasan by promoting his own work at the expense of hers. For detailed evidence demonstrating that Martin's theorising is based on multiple misunderstandings of SFL theory, see here.

Hasan (2011)

Hasan 1978/2011


  1. Five days after the damage was done, on 22 February 2016 at 11:42, Martin issued the following apology on the local sys-func list (but not on the international sysfling list):

    HI all

    At the Hasan Symposium last Wednesday, in my remarks, I reported a conversation I once had with Hasan where as far as I recall she mentioned that she had read Mitchell’s ‘The language of buying and selling in Cyrenaica’ but forgotten about it when she worked on text structure.

    I then presented exemplary text structures from her work as follows:

    'medical appointment making':
    Identification ^ Application ^ Offer ^ Confirmation (1977:233)

    'service encounter':
    Sale request ^ Sale compliance ^ Sale ^ Purchase ^ Purchase closure (1979; 1985a/1989:60)

    'nursery tale':
    Initiating event ^ Sequent Eventn ^ Final Eventn (1984b:80)

    And then the generalised text structures:

    'service encounter':
    [(Greeting).(Sale Initiation)^] [(Sale Enquiry.)n {Sale request ^ Sale Compliance^}n Sale ^] Purchase ^ Purchase closure (^ Finis)
    - 1979, 1985a/9:60

    'nursery tale':
    [(^) Initiating event] ^ Sequent Eventn ^ Final Eventn [^(Finale).(Moral)]
    - 1984b:80

    Hasan 1977 clearly references Mitchell. I apologise for any implication she did not acknowledge his work on text structure in this foundation paper.


    Hasan, R 1977 Text in the systemic-functional model. W Dressler Current Trends in Textlinguistics. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. 228-246.

    Hasan, R 1979 On the notion of text. J S Petofi [Ed.] Text vs Sentence: basic questions of textlinguistics. Hamburg: Helmut Buske (Papers in Textlinguistics 20.2). 369-390.

    Hasan, R 1984b The nursery tale as a genre. Nottingham Linguistic Circular 13 (Special Issue on Systemic Linguistics). 71-102.

    Hasan, R 1985a The structure of a text. M A K Halliday & R Hasan. Language, Context and Text. Geelong, Vic.: Deakin University Press. 52-69 [republished by Oxford University Press 1989]

    Mitchell, T F 1957 The language of buying and selling in Cyrenaica: a situational statement. Hesperis 26-31-71 [reprinted in T F Mitchell 1975 Principles of Neo-Firthian Linguistics. London: Longman. 167-200]

  2. Note that Martin only apologises for being factually incorrect — not for deliberately setting out to vilify the late Ruqaiya Hasan at a gathering to honour her.

  3. A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past actions and their motives — of approving of some and disapproving of others.
    — Charles Darwin