Saturday, 27 May 2017

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Misconstruing (Functional Varieties Of) Language As Social Context

Martin & Rose (2007: 17-8):
And in Chapter 9 we then contextualise the discourse systems in models of the social contexts of discourse, including register and genre theory, and we make connections to multi-modal discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This confuses functional varieties of language with the context that is realised by language.  In SFL theory, register and genre (text type) are modelled as two perspectives on the same phenomenon: a midway point on the cline of instantiation of language (not context).  Language as register is the view from the system pole of the cline, whereas language as text type is the view from the instance pole of the cline.

[2] In SFL theory, context is the culture modelled as a semiotic system that is realised by language (and its attendant semiotic systems).  As a semiotic system, context is second-order experience with respect to the first-order of the interlocutors: speakers/writers and addressees.  The term 'social context' risks confusing the first-order experience of the interlocutors with the second-order experience of the culture being realised by the language they project.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Problems With The Textual Discourse Semantic System Of Periodicity

Martin & Rose (2007: 17):
Periodicity considers the rhythm of discourse — the layers of prediction that flag for readers what’s to come, and the layers of consolidation that accumulate the meanings made. These are also textual kinds of meanings, concerned with organising discourse as pulses of information.

Blogger Comments:

Periodicity is concerned with textual peaks of Theme and New information.  Here it is presented as a resource of the textual metafunction on the stratum of discourse semantics.  This is quite different to the model in Martin (1992: 393), in which these are theorised as 'method of development' and 'point', two of four 'interaction patterns' between strata, with strata misconstrued as modules instead of levels of symbolic abstraction.  The other two interaction patterns are (misunderstandings of) cohesive harmony and modal responsibility.  Interaction patterns are said to be processes rather than systems (op. cit.: 401).  In SFL terms, this means there is instantiation but no potential to be instantiated!

Martin (1992) takes the term 'method of development' from Fries (1981), and redefines it as an interaction pattern between Theme (textual lexicogrammar) and reference chains (textual discourse semantics) and lexical strings (experiential discourse semantics).  It will be remembered that Martin's reference chains are a confusion of Halliday's cohesive reference and lexical cohesion.

He then confuses theory (description) with pedagogy (prescription) by importing two notions from writing pedagogy into the model:
  • topic sentence, which he rebrands as 'Hyper-Theme', a term taken from Daneš (1974) that he misunderstands (evidence here), and
  • introductory paragraph, which he rebrands as 'Macro-Theme'.
Similarly, Martin (1992) takes the term 'point' from Fries (1981), and redefines it as an interaction pattern between New information (which he misconstrues as textual phonology(!), instead of lexicogrammar) and reference chains (textual discourse semantics) and lexical strings (experiential discourse semantics).  In Martin's exposition, New information is falsely assumed to occur always in the Rheme of a clause.

He then, again, confuses theory with pedagogy by importing two notions from writing pedagogy into the model:
  • paragraph summary, which he rebrands as 'Hyper-New', and
  • text summary, which he rebrands as 'Macro-New'.
Note that summaries, by definition, do not present new information.

The model of periodicity in Martin and Rose (2007), a model of meaning named after a structure type, thus involves these two confusions of (misunderstood) theory and pedagogy.  It is the original pedagogy — that Martin has rebranded — that makes the confused model attractive to teachers.

For the more detailed arguments on which the above is based, see the critiques here.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Problems With The Textual Discourse Semantic System Of Identification

Martin & Rose (2007: 17):
Identification is concerned with tracking participants — with introducing people, places and things into a discourse and keeping track of them once there. These are textual resources, concerned with how discourse makes sense to the reader by keeping track of identities.

Blogger Comments:

The system of identification — 'reference as semantic choice' — is Martin's (1992) textual system on his stratum of discourse semantics.  In the first instance, it is a rebranding of Halliday's cohesive (non-structural) system of reference, relocated from lexicogrammar to Martin's stratum of discourse semantics.

However, as demonstrated in some detail here, it is actually a confusion of Halliday's systems of reference and lexical cohesion.  This is largely due to the fact that the system of referring is confused with the referent.  This is why the unit of identification is an ideational category, participant (Martin 1992: 385), rather than a textual category*, and also why Martin has trouble distinguishing reference chains from lexical strings (see here).

* Perhaps unsurprisingly, Martin's unit for his experiential system, ideation, is a textual category, message part (Martin 1992: 385), rather than an experiential category.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Problems With The Logical Discourse Semantic System Of Conjunction

Martin & Rose (2007: 17):
Conjunction looks at inter-connections between activities — reformulating them, adding to them, sequencing them, explaining them and so on. These are also ideational types of meanings, but of the subtype logical’. Logical meanings are used to form temporal, causal and other kinds of connectivity.

Blogger Comments:

The system of conjunction (& continuity) — aptly glossed as 'the logic of English text' — is Martin's (1992) logical system on his stratum of discourse semantics. As demonstrated at considerable length here, it is a confusion of the non-structural system of conjunction (textual metafunction) and the structural system of expansion relations between clauses (logical metafunction).

The most general expansion categories, elaboration, extension and enhancement, do not feature in the model, and instead, more delicate categories are used, but repeatedly misapplied.  Because it is an attempted rebranding of Halliday's cohesive conjunction, the logical relation of projection does not figure at all in Martin's logical discourse system.

Martin's model makes much of the distinction of internal vs external conjunction, as a way of differentiating it from Halliday's model — but without understanding the distinction.  In SFL, external conjunction is an expansion relation between processes, whereas internal conjunction is a relation between propositions, that is, the relation is 'internal to the speech event'.  As Martin's chapter develops, the distinction generally comes to mean the distinction between cohesive conjunction (misconstrued as internal) and the logical expansion of clauses (misconstrued as external), though not consistently.

A serious consequence of creating a model of logical discourse semantics that is inconsistent with the model of logical grammar is that ideational metaphor can no longer be systematically (or coherently!) explored, since there is no longer any basis for the distinction between congruent and incongruent realisations of the discourse system in the lexicogrammar.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Problems With 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, 'the company words keep', despite the name and subtitle, 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 (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 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)
more than the sum of its wordings
Process: relational: attributive

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

[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)
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)
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.