Thursday, 27 July 2017

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Sunday, 23 July 2017

Confusing Metafunctions And Misunderstanding 'Prosodic'

Martin & Rose (2007: 31):
As we can see, Helena uses a range of resources to build up a picture of her second love’s living hell, including direct expressions of emotional states and physical behaviour, and implicit expressions of emotion through extraordinary behaviour and metaphor. 
In Helena’s story these resources work together, reinforcing for example the desperation of her second love’s emotional devastation, his spiritual murder as she describes it. This accumulative effect over a phase of text reflects the ‘prosodic’ nature of attitude, and of interpersonal meaning in general. Interpersonal meanings are often realised not just locally, but tend to sprawl out and colour a passage of discourse, forming a ‘prosody’ of attitude. By looking at phases of attitude, we can explore how readers are being aligned rhetorically as a text unfolds; we’ll return to this issue of aligning the reader below.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Martin & Rose confuse the ideational metafunction with the interpersonal metafunction.  "Building up a picture" of someone's emotional states takes the perspective of construing experience, not the perspective of appraising by affect.  Genuine examples of appraising by affect would be of the type I loved everything about him, he hated what was happening etc.

[2] Since the perspective on meaning adopted here by Martin & Rose is ideational, not interpersonal, the instance does not demonstrate the "prosodic nature of attitude".  More importantly, 'prosodic' refers to a type of structure.  Here it is confused with the selective attention to elements in different structures.  By this misunderstanding, all meaning could be regarded as having "prosodic structure".

[3] The notion of 'phase' is inconsistent with the notion of 'prosodic' structure.  The term 'phase' refers to one of a series of stages of some process, and so represents a dynamic perspective on the structure types that are continuous, not prosodic: experiential, logical and textual.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Misunderstanding Affect As "Constructing Emotion"

Martin & Rose (2007: 29-31):
First let’s look at positive and negative affect. More perhaps than any other family of genres, stories involve us in people’s feelings. We empathise and sympathise with characters as they take part in extraordinary events. …
This contrast between good and bad vibes is a basic one as far as emotions and attitudes in general are concerned.  Next well look at direct and implicit expressions of feelings. …
Taken out of context, from this unusual behaviour we know something is wrong but we can’t be quite so sure about the exact emotion being expressed; we need to use a bit of psychology perhaps. …
We can also note here the role that metaphor plays in constructing emotion.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This again misunderstands affect. Affect is not simply a matter of 'expressing feelings' or "constructing emotion". Affect is 'the characterisation of phenomena by reference to emotion' (as explained here).

[2] This again misunderstands affect. Affect is not a matter of experiencing the emotions of participants in texts.  Affect is a system of appraisal, a resource of the interpersonal metafunction.

[3] There is no "need to use a bit of psychology".  There is, however, a need to understand that affect is an interpersonal system, not an experiential one, and as such, is a resource whereby speakers (and writers) enact intersubjective relations. 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Misrepresenting The Three Kinds Of Attitude

Martin & Rose (2007: 26-9):
Attitudes have to do with evaluating things, people’s character and their feelings. … 
So these evaluations can be divided into three basic kinds according to what is being appraised: (i) the value of things, (ii) people’s character and (iii) people’s feelings. … 
And there are three main types of attitude: expressing emotion, judging character and valuing the worth of things. Technically we’ll refer to resources for expressing feelings as affect, resources for judging character as judgement and resources for valuing the worth of things as appreciation. …

In this section we look more closely at the three kinds of attitude we have identified: affect (people’s feelings), judgement (people’s character) and appreciation (the value of things).
Expressing our feelings: affect 
As we explore how people express their feelings in discourse, we find that they vary in two general ways. Firstly, we can have good feelings or bad feelings, so affect can be positive or negative. Secondly people can express their feelings directly, or we can infer how people are feeling indirectly from their behaviour, so affect can be expressed directly or implied.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The interpretation of affect as "evaluating people's feelings" confuses the kind of evaluation with what is evaluated. This is, in turn, inconsistent with the notion of affect as "expressing feelings"; see [4] below.

[2] This is inconsistent with the body of work on appreciation. Appreciation is not limited to 'valuing the worth of things'. Appreciation is 'the evaluation of objects and products (rather than human behaviour) by reference to æsthetic principles and other systems of social value' (as explained here).  For example, the very important professor is an instance of appreciation, despite appraising a person.

[3] This is inconsistent with the body of work on judgement. Judgement is not limited to 'appraising people's character'. Judgement is 'the evaluation of human behaviour with respect to social norms' (as explained here).

[4] This is misleading in that it misrepresents affect. Affect is not simply a matter of 'expressing feelings'. Affect is 'the characterisation of phenomena by reference to emotion' (as explained here).

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Misrepresenting Functional Varieties Of Language As The Cultural Context Of Language

Martin & Rose (2007: 22):
Finally in Chapter 9 we outline connections between the discourse analysis tools we have discussed and other modes of analysis. These connections include firstly the model of social context we introduced briefly above, and assume throughout the following chapters. This model of register and genre is crucial for interpreting the roles of interpersonal, ideational and textual meanings in social discourse.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This follows Martin (1992) in misrepresenting functional varieties of language, register and genre, as the cultural context of language.  In SFL theory, register and genre (text type) are two ways of looking at the same thing: register is text type viewed from the system pole of the cline of instantiation, whereas text type is register viewed from the instance pole of the cline.  The relation between context and language is realisation — they are different levels of symbolic abstraction.  Viewed from the system pole, registers are sub-potentials of language that realise sub-potentials of context; viewed from the instance pole, genres are types of text that realise situation types — a situation being an instance of context.

[2] The use of the word 'social' to characterise the cultural context invites a confusion between two distinct orders of experience: the first-order experience of the interlocutors who create a text, and the second-order experience that is the text they produce which realises the instance of semiotic context (situation).

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Rebranding Speech Function As Negotiation

Martin & Rose (2007: 21):
The key resources here are for exchanging roles as an interaction unfolds, for example by asking a question and answering it, or demanding a service and complying with the command. Here one speaker demands information with a question, and the other responds with a statement:
Sannie: Are you leaving?
Coetzee: - Of course I'm leaving.
Next a father demands a service with a command, and his son complies:
Hendrik: Ernest, get those snœk [a kind of fish],
Ernest: - (Ernest proceeds to do so.)

Blogger Comments:

Martin's discourse semantic system of negotiation is a rebranding of Halliday's semantic system of speech function.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 135):
These two variables [speech rôle and commodity], when taken together, define the four primary speech functions of offer, command, statement and question. These, in turn, are matched by a set of desired responses: accepting an offer, carrying out a command, acknowledging a statement and answering a question.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Misrepresenting Writing Pedagogy As Linguistic Theory

Martin & Rose (2007: 20-1):
Periodicity (the rhythm of discourse)
Here we’re concerned with information flow: the way in which meanings are organised so that readers can process phases of meaning. Helena for example doesn’t launch straight into her story by telling us she met a young man. To begin, she lets us know that she’s going to tell a story about a teenage farm girl in Eastern Free State:
My story begins in my late teenage years as a farm girl in the Bethlehem district of Eastern Free State.
And Tutu himself provided us with some more background to this story as he introduces it:
The South Africa Broadcasting Corporation's radio team covering the Truth and Reconciliation Commission received a letter from a woman calling herself Helena (she wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals) who lived in the eastern province of Mpumalanga. They broadcast substantial extracts.
This means that by the time Helena begins we know what to expect — which genre (a story), and something about where and when it took place and who was involved. This kind of predictability is absolutely critical for digesting information, and we need to look carefully at the ways in which texts tell us what’s coming, alongside reminding us where we’ve been. Helena for example is just as clear about where her story ends:
I end with a few lines that my wasted vulture said to me one night
Here she lets us know that the predictions that helped us through the story are closing down, and that a transition to something different is coming, in this case a big hop back to Tutu’s argument. We use the term periodicity for these resources because they organise texts as waves of information; we surf the waves, taking a look back and forward on crests of informational prominence, so that we can glide smoothly through the troughs on the flow of meanings we expect.

Blogger Comments:

The system of periodicity — based on Martin (1992) but inconsistent with it, as previously explained here — is writing pedagogy misrepresented as linguistic theory.  Its concern is that of the
  • introductory paragraph, rebranded as macro-Theme,
  • topic sentence, rebranded as hyper-Theme,
  • paragraph summary, rebranded as hyper-New, and
  • text summary, rebranded as macro-New.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Rebranding A Misunderstanding Of Grammatical Reference As Discourse Identification

Martin & Rose (2007: 20):
Identification (concerned with tracking people and things)
Helena’s narrative focuses on the two loves of her life and the way their violation of human rights destroyed their humanity. Her first love is introduced as a young man, and his identity is then kept track of using the pronouns his and he:
As an eighteen-year-old, I met a young man in his twenties. He was working in a top security structure.
Years later Helena meets him once again, and he is reintroduced as my first love, to distinguish him from the other men in her life:
More than a year ago, I met my first love again through a good friend.
The key English resources here are indefinite reference (a) to introduce the young man, pronouns to maintain his identity (his, he, my) and comparison (first) to distinguish him from Helena’s second love:

discourse functions
A young man
presenting a participant
indefinite reference
his twenties
tracking a participant
tracking a participant
my first love
comparing participants
pronoun, ordinal number

Blogger Comments:

[1] Martin's system of identification is presented as 'reference as semantic choice' (Martin 1992: 93).  However, as demonstrated here, it confuses the system of reference (the means of referring) with the instantial referents ("the people and things tracked" in a text).  This confusion of grammatical cohesion is then rebranded as discourse semantics, without demonstrating how it constitutes a higher level of symbolic abstraction (a higher stratum) than lexicogrammar.

[2] Trivially, his is here a possessive adjective, not a pronoun.  An example of his as a possessive pronoun is the mistake was his, where it stands for a noun.

[3] The indefinite article, as the name suggests, serves no referential function.

[4] From the perspective of SFL theory, the inclusion of young man and love here confuses cohesive reference (textual metafunction) with the referents — participants (experiential metafunction).

[5] In SFL theory, ordinatives do not function as comparative reference items.  Their function is structural, rather than cohesive.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 374, 375):
The Numerative element indicates some numerical feature of the particular subset of the Thing: either quantity or order, either exact or inexact. … The ordering Numeratives (or ‘ordinatives’) specify either an exact place in order (ordinal numerals, e.g. the second train) or an inexact place (e.g. a subsequent train);
[6] This is inconsistent with Martin (1992), where the most general options are [presenting] vs [presuming].  Here 'tracking' is used both, as a replacement for the general feature [presuming], and as the general function of the system, as in the title above.  That is, it is used, inconsistently, as both superordinate and hyponym.

[7] This confusion of grammatical function (reference) and classes of grammatical form (pronoun, ordinal number) underplays the grammatical contribution to semogenesis here, thereby giving the false impression that the 'discourse functions' proposed here are not just rebrandings of (misunderstood) grammatical cohesion.