The Thought Occurs

The Thought Occurs

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Why Jim Martin's 'Friday Seminar' Abstract Is Misleading

Sue Hood wrote to sys-func and sysfling at 17:48 on 25/4/16:
The seminar this Friday (April 29th) will be presented by Jim Martin – see the abstract below.
Meaning matters: A short history of systemic functional linguistics
This talk presents a brief history of systemic functional linguistics (hereafter SFL), taking Halliday’s 1961 WORD paper, ‘Categories of the theory of grammar’, as point of departure. It outlines the key strands of thought which have informed the development of SFL, focusing on (i) why it referred to as systemic, as functional and as systemic functional, (ii) how it developed this orientation with reference to phonology, lexicogrammar and discourse semantics and (iii) how it has extended this perspective to models of context (register and genre) and multimodality (taking into consideration modalities of communication beyond language). The talk ends with a brief note on recent developments and a comment on the dialectic of theory and practice through which SFL positions itself as an appliable linguistics.

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[1] Here Martin uses an historical account of SFL as a pretext for presenting his own models of discourse semantics, register and genre as having replaced Halliday's model in the development of SFL.  As demonstrated here, Martin's models are inconsistent at many scales with Halliday's theory and derive from multiple misunderstandings of the SFL model.

[2] Martin's argument for a 'discourse semantics' stratum is invalid, as demonstrated here.

[3] Martin's argument for register and genre as contextual strata is invalid, as demonstrated here, here, and here, and the model itself is inconsistent with the notions of stratification, context, register and genre, as demonstrated here.

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