Monday, 24 April 2017

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Experiential Discourse Semantic System Of Ideation

Martin & Rose (2007: 17):
Ideation focuses on the content of a discourse — what kinds of activities are undertaken, and how participants undertaking these activities are described and classified. These are ideational kinds of meaning, that realise the field of a text.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The system of ideation, despite the name, is Martin's (1992) experiential system on his stratum of discourse semantics; cf the ideational semantics of Halliday & Matthiessen (1999).  As demonstrated at considerable length here, Martin (1992) misconstrues experiential semantics as a mixture of lexical cohesion (textual grammar) — confused with lexis as most delicate grammar (delicacy) — and as misapplied expansion relations between clause elements (logical grammar), and further misconstrues some experiential semantics as field (context).  See especially The Avoidance Of Experiential Meaning In Discourse Semantics.

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, the term 'content' refers to the content plane of language, both semantics and lexicogrammar, and to all metafunctions, not just the experiential.

[3] To be clear, in SFL theory, experiential meaning covers all process types, not just those of doing–&–happening ("activities").  These others include processes of being–&–having, sensing and saying.

[4]  To be clear, in SFL theory, the field of a text is the ideational dimension of a context of situation, whereas for Martin (1992) and Martin & Rose (2007), field is misconstrued as the ideational dimension of register as a stratal system.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Misconstruing Rhetorical Mode As Social Purpose

Martin & Rose (2007: 12):
An exposition consists of the basic stages Thesis and supporting Arguments. Its social purpose is to persuade an audience to the writer’s point of view, the ‘thesis’. Expositions contrast with the argument genre known as ‘discussion’, in which two or more points of view are presented and one argued for over the others.

Blogger Comments:

In SFL theory, the function of language in a situation (type) is termed (rhetorical) mode, the theoretical projection of the textual metafunction onto the stratum of context (the culture modelled as a semiotic system).

The discussion here misconstrues semiotic function as social purpose and blurs the stratal distinction between context (mode) and semantics (text structure) — of a text type (genre).  Text types are located on the cline of instantiation between system and instance, not at the system pole, and they are varieties of language, not context.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Two Contradictory Claims About Genre

Martin & Rose (2007: 10):
The stages of a genre are relatively stable components of its organisation, that we can recognise in some form in instance after instance of the genre, such as the Orientation, Incident and Interpretation stages of an exemplum. These stages are some of the basic resources of the culture for organising discourse at the level of the text; we use initial capitals to label them.

Blogger Comments:

[1] On Martin's model of genre as context, an instance of a genre is an instance of context, not language.  On the previously given gloss of genre as text type, an instance of a genre is a text, that is: language, not context.  This self-contradiction is sufficient to invalidate the modelling of genre as a stratum of context.

[2] The use of the word 'level' here identifies 'text' as the highest unit of the semantic stratum (as opposed to 'text' as an instance of system potential).  That is, the stages of a genre are here located on the semantic stratum (consistent with SFL theory), thereby contradicting the authors' claim throughout that these are located on a stratum of context (inconsistent with SFL theory).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Misconstruing Semantic Structure As Social Purpose

Martin & Rose (2007: 9):
Her tale then unfolds as a story genre known as an ‘exemplum’, a kind of moral tale related to fables, parables and gossip. Its social purpose is to present a problematic incident and then interpret it for the audience, commenting on the behaviour of the people involved. This story type contrasts with the ‘narrative’ story type that typically presents a problem which is then resolved by the lead characters. An exemplum consists of the basic stages Orientation, Incident and Interpretation.

Blogger Comments:

This misconstrues a semantic structure of a text type — what Hasan (1985) termed a Generic Structure Potential — as a "social purpose".  This misunderstanding follows from misconstruing text types (genres) as social context instead of language.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Why Genre Is Not A Social Process

 Martin & Rose (2007: 8):
For us a genre is a staged, goal-oriented social process. Social because we participate in genres with other people; goal-oriented because we use genres to get things done; staged because it usually takes us a few steps to reach our goals.

Blogger Comments:

The multi-dimensional theoretical confusions here can be made more explicit by replacing the word 'genre' with 'text type' — the authors' own gloss:
For us a text type is a staged, goal-oriented social process. Social because we participate in text types with other people; goal-oriented because we use text types to get things done; staged because it usually takes us a few steps to reach our goals.

[1] The claim here is that a type of text is a process.  To be internally consistent, the claim would have to be that: 
  • a type of text is a type of process, and as such, that
  • a text is a process.
In SFL theory, this process is logogenesis, the unfolding of text at the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.

That is, this definition of 'genre' confuses a point on the cline of instantiation (text type) with a semogenic process (logogenesis).

This confusion of text type with logogenesis is further confounded by its being modelled here as context, instead of language.

[2] The claim here is that types of text are social because we participate in them with other people. The main confusion here is the blurring of different orders of experience.

People and the content of texts are of different orders of experience.  People, as sayers or sensers, are first-order phenomena, whereas the wordings or meanings that they verbally or mentally project are second-order phenomena: metaphenomena.  The use of participate in blurs this distinction by placing phenomena and metaphenomena at the same order of experience.

The minor confusion here is the claim that text types are social.  Text types are socio-semiotic rather than social.  This is because they are varieties of language, and language is a social semiotic system; that is: a semiotic system of the subclass 'social'.

[3] The claim here is that types of text are goal-oriented because we use them to reach our goals. This is no more, or less, true of text types than it is of clauses or tone groups, and so, is not a distinguishing feature of text types.

[4] It will be seen that Martin's 'genre' model of text type is largely limited to identifying text structures that vary for text type.  However, inconsistent with SFL theory, the elements of text structure are not differentiated according to metafunction, and are further misconstrued as generic stages (context) rather than semantic structure (language); cf Hasan's (1985) Generic Structure Potential.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Self-Contradiction: Genre As Both Text Type And Context

 Martin & Rose (2007: 8):
We use the term genre in this book to refer to different types of texts that enact various types of social contexts.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The notion of genre as text type is consistent with SFL theory.  In the architecture of SFL theory, text type is a point of variation on the cline of instantiation; it is register viewed from the instance pole (text) of the cline of instantiation.



However, most importantly, this use of the term 'genre' is not consistent with the model of genre presented throughout this work, as (a level of) context.  Types of text are language, not context.  Types of context are context, not language.

[2] In SFL theory, text types (genres) do not "enact" situation types (types of social context); text types realise situation types.  Text types (language) and situation types (context) are different levels of symbolic abstraction.  It is the use of the term 'enact' that blurs the distinction between these two levels of symbolic abstraction.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Misrepresenting Cohesive Conjunction As A Misunderstanding Of Stratal Relations

Martin & Rose (2007: 6):
As the meaning of the South African flag is more than the sum of its shapes and colours, so too is discourse more than the sum of its wordings, and culture more than the sum of its texts.  For example, here’s part of the story we’ll be working on later. The narrator, Helena, is talking about separating from her first love:
Then one day he said he was going on a 'trip'. 'We won't see each other again.., maybe never ever again.' I was torn to pieces.
The last clause here, I was torn to pieces, tells us how Helena felt; but because of the way meaning unfolds through the discourse phases of ‘meeting’, ‘description and ‘leaving’ it also tells us why she felt upset; there’s an explanation going on which transcends the meaning of the individual clauses. Taken one by one, each clause describes what happened; taken together they explain it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misrepresents the relation between strata as the higher stratum being "more than the sum of" elements on the lower stratum.  That is, it misrepresents two different levels of symbolic abstraction as a single level of abstraction organised in terms of composition.  In terms of the fractal types of expansion and projection, this misrepresents elaboration (intensive identity) as extension.

Martin & Rose:
discourse (semantics)
is
more than the sum of its wordings
Carrier
Process: relational: attributive
Attribute

SFL:
meaning (semantics)
is realised
by wording (lexicogrammar)
Value
Process: relational: identifying
Token


[2] In the story text, there is an implicit conjunctive relation of cause: result between the clause complex 'We won't see each other again.., maybe never ever again' and the following clause I was torn to pieces.  This is a type of cohesion, a non-structural resource of the textual metafunction on the stratum of lexicogrammar.  Martin & Rose miss this implicit grammatical relation of cause, and instead attribute it to 'the way meaning unfolds' through 'discourse phases' — as a way of exemplifying their misinterpretation of stratal relations as "more than the sum of".

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Misunderstanding Encoding

Martin & Rose (2007: 4-5):
Realisation is a kind of re-coding like the mapping of hardware through software to the images and words we see on the screen on our computers. Another way of thinking about this is symbolisation. An example is the flag of the new democratic South Africa…
So we have the colours of the flag symbolising ‘diverse elements within South African society’, and their convergence symbolising ‘the road ahead in unity’. Symbolising is an important aspect of realisation, since grammar both symbolises and encodes discourse, just as discourse both symbolises and encodes social activity. The concept of realisation embodies the meanings of 'symbolising’, ‘encoding’, ‘expressing’, ‘manifesting’ and so on.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Symbolisation is neither 'another way of thinking about' realisation, nor 'an important aspect of realisation'.  Realisation is the relation between two levels of symbolic abstraction.

[2] This misunderstands the relation between symbolising (realising) and encoding.  Symbolising (realising) is the relation between two levels of symbolic abstraction, lower Token and higher Value.  In such a relation, there are two directions of coding, encoding and decoding, not merely encoding.

When the direction of coding is construed as encoding, the identifying relation between the levels encodes the Value by reference to the Token.  In the case of lexicogrammar and semantics, the identity encodes semantic values by reference to lexicogrammatical tokens:

lexicogrammar (wording)
realises
semantics (meaning)
Identifier Token
Process: relational
Identified Value
On the other hand, when the direction of coding is construed as decoding, the identifying relation between the levels decodes the Token by reference to the Value. In the case of lexicogrammar and semantics, the identity decodes lexicogrammatical tokens by reference to semantic values:

lexicogrammar (wording)
realises
semantics (meaning)
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value

In short, interstratal relations involve decoding just as much as encoding.  Semantics (meaning) is decoded by reference to context (culture) just as much as context (culture) is encoded by reference to semantics (meaning).

[3] 'Manifesting' is not synonymous with 'realising', since it includes the notion of 'showing', and thus belongs to a different sub-type of identifying process, distinct from the 'symbol' subtype to which 'realising' belongs (Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 269).

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Confusing Strata With Their Units

Martin & Rose (2007: 4):
What is the relation between grammar, discourse and social context? Obviously cultures aren’t just a combination of texts, and likewise texts aren’t just a combination of clauses. Social activity, discourse and grammar are different kinds of phenomena, operating at different levels of abstraction: a culture is more abstract than a text, and the meanings that make up a text are in turn more abstract than the wordings that express them. The relation between these strata is described in SFL as realisation; social contexts are realised as texts which are realised as sequences of clauses.
Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, this is a rebranding of the SFL stratification hierarchy, with semantics misconstrued as discourse, and context — the culture as semiotic system — as social context, which is, in turn, equated with social activity.

[2] To be clear, in the SFL stratification hierarchy, context is realised by semantics, and semantics is realised by lexicogrammar.  Text is the highest unit on the semantic stratum, and clause is the highest unit on the lexicogrammatical stratum.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Misunderstanding And Misrepresenting Stratification

Martin & Rose (2007: 4, 5):
These two points of view on discourse are illustrated in Figure 1.2. Grammar, discourse and social activity are symbolised as a series of circles, in which discourse nestles within social activity and grammar nestles within discourse, suggesting three complementary perspectives on a single complex phenomenon. This type of diagram is often used in SFL to symbolise its evolving model of language in social context.



Blogger Comments:

[1] The inclusion of a text in the 'discourse' circle in Figure 1.2 confuses an instance (cline of instantiation) with a stratum (hierarchy of stratification).

[2] This is a rebranding of the SFL strata of lexicogrammar, semantics and context.

[3] This misinterprets the figure as a Venn diagram, and so misrepresents the organisational principle of the stratal hierarchy as one of inclusion, rather than realisation.

[4] In SFL, a 'cotangential circles' diagram represents a hierarchy of symbolic abstraction, such that higher strata are realised by lower strata.  This is a distinct dimension from the evolution of the SFL model, or indeed the evolution of language (phylogenesis).

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Misrepresenting The Complementarity Of Grammarian & Discourse Analyst

Martin & Rose (2007: 4):
Grammarians are particularly interested in types of clauses and their elements. But texts are usually bigger than single clauses, so a discourse analyst has more to worry about than a grammarian (expanded horizons). By the same token, cultures manifest themselves through a myriad of texts, and social theorists are more interested in how social contexts are related to one another than in how they are internally organised as texts (global horizons). Discourse analysis employs the tools of grammarians to identify the roles of wordings in passages of text, and employs the tools of social theorists to explain why they make the meanings they do.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This misrepresents grammarians as text linguists whose interests are limited to lexicogrammar, and within the grammar, to clause structure.  This is misleading on several counts.  On the one hand, playing the rôle of a grammarian means being concerned with the system, rather than the instance, and being concerned with both content strata, semantics and lexicogrammar, rather than just the grammar. On the other hand, the grammar also includes the non-structural resources of cohesion, which obtain throughout a given text.

[2] The claim here is that a discourse analyst — in the sense of a text linguist concerned with the stratum of (discourse) semantics — has "more to worry about" ("expanded horizons") than the caricature of a grammarian as a text linguist who is only concerned clause structure.

[3] Again, the culture as a semiotic system is rebranded as the social system.

[4] The claim here is that discourse analysis employs the tools of social theorists to explain why wordings in passages of text make the meanings they do.  If any uses of any social theory appear in Martin & Rose (2007), they will be labelled as such, as a way of identifying the extent to which social theories are employed.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Rebranding Strata And Misrepresenting Stratification

Martin & Rose (2007: 4):
The focus of this book is on the analysis of discourse. In SFL, discourse analysis interfaces with the analysis of grammar and the analysis of social activity, somewhere between the work of grammarians on the one hand and social theorists on the other. This has partly to do with the size of what we’re looking at; texts are bigger than a clause and smaller than a culture.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This rebrands the stratum of semantics as 'discourse'. In SFL, discourse refers to 'the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts' (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 512). For Halliday (2008: 78), discourse and text are two angles on the same phenomenon:
“discourse” is text that is being viewed in its sociocultural context, while “text” is discourse that is being viewed as a process of language.
[2] This reduces the stratum of context to 'social activity'. In SFL, context refers to the culture conceived as a semiotic system, as it is realised in language and its attendant semiotic systems.

[3] This misrepresents SFL grammarians as linguists who focus only on the stratum of lexicogrammar and on the instance pole of the cline of instantiation.  For Halliday (2008: 85), 'grammarian' is the rôle played by a linguist when concerned with both semantics and grammar, and with the system pole of the cline of instantiation.

[4] This presents the size of the biggest units of content strata as a principle on which the stratification hierarchy is organised — continuing the misunderstanding in Martin (1992: 496). Strictly, the stratification hierarchy is organised on the basis of symbolic abstraction — an intensive identifying relation — only.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Misrepresenting Social Context As A Stratum Of Language

Martin & Rose (2007: 3-4):
SFL has been described as an ‘extravagant’ theory; its extravagance has evolved to manage the complexity of the phenomenon it describes. But despite the complexity of language in social contexts, the basic principles developed in SFL for managing it are relatively simple. To begin with we will briefly introduce two general perspectives for looking at the phenomena of discourse. These two perspectives are:
  • [relevant] levels of language: as grammar, as discourse, and as social context (known as the strata of language)
  • three general functions of language in social contexts: to enact our relationships, to represent our experience, and to organise discourse as meaningful text (known as metafunctions).

Blogger Comment:

[1] In SFL, as elsewhere, social context is not a stratum of language.  In the first instance, the strata of language are semantics (meaning), lexicogrammar (wording) and phonology (sounding). Context is distinct from language, and constitutes the culture modelled as a semiotic system whose expression plane includes language.  Language realises context.

Significantly, this inclusion of context within language is also inconsistent with the theoretical source of this workbook, English Text (Martin 1992), which nominally distinguishes context and language, despite re-interpreting context as diatypic varieties of language (register and genre); see explanatory critiques here.

[2] In SFL, the term 'discourse' does not refer to a stratum of language.  (For a thorough critique of Martin's model of 'discourse semantics' as a stratum, see here.)  For Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512), 'discourse' refers to:
… the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts.
And Halliday (2008: 78) further clarifies the distinction between 'discourse' and 'text':
I do make a distinction between these two; but it is a difference in point of view, between different angles of vision on the phenomena, not in the phenomena themselves. So we can use either to define the other: “discourse” is text that is being viewed in its sociocultural context, while “text” is discourse that is being viewed as a process of language.