The Thought Occurs

The Thought Occurs

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Bernstein's Codes From The Perspective Of SFL Theory

Halliday (1978: 25):
What are these linguistic codes, or fashions of speaking? They relate, essentially, to a functional interpretation of language. It is not the words and the sentence structures — still less the pronunciation or ‘accent’ — which make the difference between one type of code and another; it is the relative emphasis placed on different functions of language, or, to put it more accurately, the kinds of meaning that are typically associated with them. The ‘fashions of speaking’ are socio-semantic in nature; they are patterns of meaning that emerge more or less strongly, in particular contexts, especially those relating to the socialisation of the child in the family.

Halliday (1978: 27):
We are still far from being able to give a comprehensive or systematic account of the linguistic realisations of Bernstein’s codes …

Halliday (1978: 27):
Seen from a linguistic point of view, the different ‘codes’, as Bernstein calls them, are different strategies of language use. […] All children have access to the meaning potential of the system; but they may differ, because social groups differ, in their interpretation of what the situation demands.

Halliday (1978: 31):
But the kind of meanings that one child expects to be associated with any particular context of situation may differ widely from what is expected by another. Here we are back to Bernstein’s codes again, which we have now approached from another angle, seeing them as differences in the meaning potential which may be typically associated with given situation types.

Halliday (1978: 67):
In terms of our general picture, the codes act as determinants of register, operating on the selection of meanings within situation types: when the systemics of language — the ordered sets of options that constitute the linguistic system — are activated by the situational determinants of text (the field, tenor and mode […]), this process is regulated by the codes.

Halliday (1978: 68):
It is important to avoid reifying the codes, which are not varieties of language in the sense that registers and social dialects are varieties of language. […] The code is actualised in language through register, the clustering of semantic features according to situation type. (Bernstein in fact uses the term ‘variant’, i.e. ‘elaborated variant’, to refer to those characteristics of a register that derive from the choice of code.) But the codes themselves are types of social semiotic, symbolic orders of meaning generated by the social system. Hence they transmit, or control the transmission of, the underlying patterns of a culture and subculture, acting through the primary socialising agencies of family, peer group and school.

Halliday (1978: 88):
It was clear, however, that any significant linguistic generalisations that could be made would be at the semantic level, since it was through meanings that the codes were manifested in language.

Halliday (1978: 88):
The hypothesis was that, in a given context, say that of parental control of the child’s behaviour, various different subsystems within the semantic system might typically be deployed; hence the ‘codes’ could be thought of as differential orientation to areas of meaning in given social situations.

Halliday (1978: 98):
The sort of differences that are in question, insofar as they are linguistic, are probably to be interpreted along the lines of Bernstein’s ‘codes’, as linguistic manifestations of differences in the social semiotic, different subcultural ‘angles’ on the social system. There are styles of meaning distinguishing one culture or one subculture from another …

Halliday (1978: 106):
What Bernstein’s work suggests is that there may be differences in the relative orientation of different social groups towards the various functions of language in given contexts, and towards different areas of meaning that may be explored within a given function.

Halliday (1978: 106):
We can interpret the codes, from a linguistic point of view, as differences of orientation within the total semantic potential.

Halliday (1978: 111):
‘Code’ is used here in Bernstein’s sense; it is the principle of semiotic organisation governing the choice of meanings by a speaker and their interpretation by a hearer. The code controls the semantic styles of the culture.
Codes are not varieties of language, as dialects and registers are. The codes are, so to speak, ‘above’ the linguistic system; they are types of social semiotic, or symbolic orders of meaning generated by the social system. The code is actualised in language through the register, since it determines the semantic orientation of speakers in particular social contexts; Bernstein’s own use of ‘variant’ (as in ‘elaborated variant’) refers to those characteristics of a register which derive from the form of the code. When the semantic systems of the language are activated by the situational determinants of text — the field, tenor and mode — this process is regulated by the codes.
Hence the codes transmit, or control the transmission of, the underlying patterns of a culture and subculture, acting through the primary socialising agencies of family, peer group and school. As a child comes to attend to and interpret meanings, in the context of situation and context of culture, at the same time he takes over the code. The culture is transmitted to him with the code acting as a filter, defining and making accessible the semiotic principles of his own subculture, so that as he learns the culture he also learns the grid, or subcultural angle on the social system. The child’s linguistic experience reveals the culture to him through the code, and so transmits the code as part of the culture.

Halliday (1978: 123):
The specification of the register by the social context is in turn controlled and modified by the code: the semiotic style, or ‘sociolinguistic coding orientation’ in Bernstein’s term, that represents the particular subcultural angle on the social system. This angle of vision is a function of the social structure. It reflects, in our society, the pattern of social hierarchy, and the resulting tensions between an egalitarian ideology and a hierarchical reality. The code is transmitted initially through the agency of family types and family rôle systems, and subsequently reinforced in the various peer groups of children, adolescents and adults.

Halliday (1978: 181):
In this respect, therefore, it [an anti-language] is more like Bernstein’s (1974) concept of a code, or coding orientation. A code may be defined just in this way: as a systematic pattern of tendencies in the selection of meanings to be exchanged under specified conditions. (Note that the ‘specified conditions’ are in the sociolinguistic environment. They may be social or linguistic, the tendency being, naturally, that the higher the level of variation, the more likely it is that the relevant context will be social rather than linguistic. Hence in the definition of code we could say ‘in specified social contexts’.)

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