Thursday, 23 November 2017

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Sunday, 19 November 2017

Presenting Experiential Construals As Interpersonal Assessment

Martin & Rose (2007: 46-7):
As well as things, we can also sharpen or soften types of qualities, such as deep blue or bluish. Even categorical concepts like numbers can be pushed around in this way:
After about three years with the special forces
After exactly three years with the special forces
Here’s another example of sharpened focus from Helena’s story:
was what we saw with our own eyes
Here own sharpens the category ‘our eyes’, i.e. ‘ours and no-one else’s’ - it’s definitely not hearsay. And here’s an example of softened focus:
not quite my first love
Tutu also sharpens focus a couple of times in his exposition, in order to be precise:
the very first time
precisely this point

Blogger Comments:

[1] This continues the previous confusion between interpersonal and experiential meaning. Again, if graduation is a system of appraisal, then 'focus' is concerned with the sharpening or softening of the attitudinal assessment that enacts intersubjective relations as interpersonal meaning.

[2] The distinction between about three years and exactly three years is not a distinction between grades of attitudinal appraisal.  That is, it is not a distinction between grades of interpersonal assessment in terms of affect (emotional), appreciation (e.g. æsthetic) or judgement (e.g. ethical).

[3] The co-text of this excerpt demonstrates that it is not an interpersonal assessment in terms of affect (emotional), appreciation (e.g. æsthetic) or judgement (e.g. ethical):
And all that we as loved ones knew...was what we saw with our own eyes.
[4] Moreover, this is a elementary misreading of the text:
Then he says: He and three of our friends have been promoted. 'We're moving to a special unit. Now, now my darling. We are real policemen now.' We were ecstatic. We even celebrated. He and his friends would visit regularly. They even stayed over for long periods. Suddenly, at strange times, they would become restless. Abruptly mutter the feared word 'trip' and drive off. I ... as a loved one ... knew no other life than that of worry, sleeplessness, anxiety about his safety and where they could be. We simply had to be satisfied with: 'What you don't know, can't hurt you,' And all that we as loved ones knew...was what we saw with our own eyes.
Experientially, this clause encodes the Value all that we as loved ones knew by reference to the Token all that we as loved ones knew:

all that we as loved ones knew
what we saw with our own eyes

Identified Value
Identifier Token

That is, it's not a question of "definitely not hearsay".  It's a matter of not being told what was going on — of having no other knowledge than what could be construed from perceptual experience.

[5] By way of contrast, this can indeed be interpreted as an instance of attitudinal appraisal, since it enacts an appreciation by rating one lover against another.

[6] Again, the co-texts of each of these excerpts demonstrate that neither is an interpersonal assessment in terms of affect (emotional), appreciation (e.g. æsthetic) or judgement (e.g. ethical):
Many of those in the security forces who have come forward had previously been regarded as respectable members of their communities. It was often the very first time that their communities and even sometimes their families heard that these people were, for instance, actually members of death squads or regular torturers of detainees in their custody.
Amnesty is not given to innocent people or to those who claim to be innocent. It was on precisely this point that amnesty was refused to the police officers who applied for it for their part in the death of Steve Biko.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Confusing Metafunctions: Graduation Focus

Martin & Rose (2007: 46):
Now let’s look briefly at the second dimension of graduation, focus — the sharpening and softening of experiential categories. What we’ve considered so far are resources for adjusting the volume of gradable items. By contrast, focus is about resources for making something that is inherently non-gradable gradable. For example, Helena introduces her second love as a policeman:
After my unsuccessful marriage, I met another policeman.
Experientially, this sets him up as having one kind of job rather than another (tinker, tailor, soldier, spy etc.). Classifications of this kind are categorical distinctions — he was a policeman as opposed to something else. After his promotion, however, her second love describes himself as a real policeman, as if he hadn’t quite been one before:
We are real policemen now.
This in effect turns a categorical boundary between types of professions into a graded one, allowing for various degrees of ‘policeman-hood’. It implies that when Helena met him he was less of a policeman than after his promotion:
I met a kind of policeman
I met a policeman sort of
Grading resources of this kind doesn’t so much turn the volume up and down as sharpen and soften the boundaries between things. Real policeman sharpens the focus, a sort of policeman softens it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This blurs the distinction between interpersonal and experiential meaning.  To be clear, if graduation is a system of appraisal, then 'focus' is concerned with the sharpening or softening of the attitudinal assessment that enacts intersubjective relations as interpersonal meaning.

[2] The classification of Helena's second love as a policeman is made through cohesion, the non-structural resources of the textual metafunction.  This can be seen by looking at the realisation of "meaning beyond the clause":
After my unsuccessful marriage, I met another policeman. Not quite my first love, but an exceptional person. Very special. Once again a bubbly, charming personality.  Humorous, grumpy, everything in its time and place.
The conflated Deictic/post-Deictic another makes cataphoric comparative reference to my first love, while policeman is lexically cohesive — through instantial equivalence (Hasan 1985/9: 82) — with my first love on the one hand, and with both an exceptional person and a bubbly, charming personality, on the other.

[3] This again blurs the distinction between interpersonal and experiential meaning.  The categorisation as a 'real policeman' is made by the attributive clause We are real policeman now, which construes class membership.  This is distinct from the interpersonal assessment enacted by the attitudinal Modifier real.

[4] This continues the confusion between interpersonal and experiential meaning.  In terms of appraisal, any implication of the statement is an interpersonal assessment of 'what he was before', not an experiential construal of 'what he was before'.

[5] Trivially, the examples of 'softening of focus' do not appear in the text, despite being presented in the same manner as the two genuine instances.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Misunderstanding Metaphor

Martin & Rose (2007: 45):
We’ve already considered Helena’s metaphors in relation to affect, but we can note here that they also have an amplifying effect:
ice cold in a sweltering night
dull like the dead
blood-curdling shrieks
These metaphors tell us how cold her second love was, how dull his eyes were, and how frightening his screams were.

Blogger Comments:

Helena's text:
He's pale, ice cold in a sweltering night - sopping wet with sweat. Eyes bewildered, but dull like the dead. And the shakes. The terrible convulsions and blood-curdling shrieks of fear and pain from the bottom of his soul.
[1] This confuses figurative language in general with metaphor in particular; see below.  That is, a hyponym is mistaken for its superordinate.

[2] Trivially, as figurative language, the use of ice in ice cold is hyperbole, not metaphor.  Its agnate cold as ice is simile, not metaphor.

[3] Trivially, as figurative language, the use of like the dead in dull like the dead is simile, not metaphor.

[4] Trivially, as figurative language, the use of blood-curdling in blood-curdling shrieks is auditory imagery, not metaphor.

However, this is an instance of (ideational) grammatical metaphor, since a semantic figure whose congruent wording would be a clause such as his shrieks curdled my blood is instead incongruently worded as (part of) a nominal group.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Misunderstanding Intensification

Martin & Rose (2007: 45):
Another feature of certain genres is that grading is erased when we technicalise attitude. For example, in common sense terms gross is at the extreme of scales such as minor/unacceptable/gross or unpleasant/disturbing/gross. But once we define a gross violation of human rights then gross doesn’t scale how unacceptable or unpleasant the violation is any more. Gross simply becomes part of the name of the offence, classifying the type of offence, rather than intensifying it:
gross violation of human rights - defined as an abduction, killing, torture or severe ill-treatment

Blogger Comment:

The absurdity of this claim can be demonstrated by comparing the technical term with the Classifier:
a gross violation of human rights 
with the term — technical or otherwise — without the Classifier:
a violation of human rights.  
Here Martin & Rose have taken the fact that Classifiers cannot be intensified, and falsely concluded that Classifiers cannot intensify.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 377):
Classifiers do not accept degrees of comparison or intensity – we cannot have a more electric train or a very electric train; and they tend to be organised in mutually exclusive and exhaustive sets – a train is either electric, steam or diesel. The range of semantic relations that may be embodied in a set of items functioning as Classifier is very broad; it includes material, scale and scope, purpose and function, status and rank, origin, mode of operation – more or less any feature that may serve to classify a set of things into a system of smaller sets;
In this instance, the Classifier gross ranks this type of human rights violation relative to other types.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

On Attitudinal Lexis

Martin & Rose (2007: 44-5):
Here are some more examples of attitudinal lexis from Helena’s Incidents, with some suggested scales of intensity:
vivacious man     dull/placid/lively/vivacious…
pleading              ask/request/pray/beseech/plead
Beyond this, we can also be guided by the prosody of feeling that colours a whole phase of discourse. In Helena’s narrative for example attitudinal lexis is more a feature of her Incidents than her Orientation or Interpretations. And genre is also a factor. Tutu uses less of this resource in his exposition… 
On the other hand, the Act arguably uses no attitudinal lexis at all, just as it avoids intensifiers like very.  So we can score various genres on how much amplification they are likely to display: narratives tend to amplify most, expositions less so, and administrative genres like the Act amplify very little.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Trivially, 'dull' is an antonym of 'lively' and 'vivacious'.  That is, in terms of appraisal theory, 'dull' is negative polarity, whereas 'lively' and 'vivacious' are positive.  The upscaling of a negative appraisal is another negative appraisal, not a positive appraisal; the downscaling of a positive appraisal is another positive appraisal, not a negative appraisal.

[2] As a scale of verbal Processes, this is a scale of construals of experience (ideational metafunction). Whether, as Predicators, they are used to enact intersubjective relations by appraising by means of the values of affect, appreciation or judgement is another matter.  The text in question is: Praying, pleading: 'God, what's happening?'

[3] This again mistakes lack of structure for prosodic structure.  Consider, for example, what could, by the same misunderstanding, be claimed to be the "prosody" of processes (experiential metafunction) in the above extract.

[4] This use of 'feeling' highlights a confusion that pervades this chapter: the blurring of the ideational construal of emotion with the interpersonal enactment of intersubjective relations through appraisal.

[5] Here the terms 'Incident', 'Orientation' and 'Interpretation' are identified as phases of discourse.  This is inconsistent with the theory on which this work is based (Martin 1992: 546, 558, 565-8) where such phases are located on Martin's stratum of genre, not discourse.  This is also inconsistent with Rose's claim (Sys-func 16/9/17) that phases are units on Martin's stratum of register, as recorded and critiqued here.  For reasons why neither genre nor register can be coherently modelled as either strata or context, see here (register), here (genre) and here (context).

[6] This directly contradicts the previous analysis of this text, where what were claimed to be attitudes of positive appreciation (understanding, reparation, ubuntu) and negative judgement (vengeance, retaliation, victimisation) were all realised by the choice of lexical items, rather than through choices in closed grammatical systems; see the original critique here.

[7] This is supposition, unsupported by empirical evidence.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

On 'Better' And 'Best' As "Grammatical Items"

 Martin & Rose (2007: 44):
Next let’s examine vocabulary items that include degrees of intensity, such as happy/delighted/ecstatic. These kinds of words are known as attitudinal lexis, i.e. ‘lexis with attitude’. The intensifiers we have already looked at, like better/best, all/several/some, must/would/might, are grammatical items. That is their meaning depends on being combined with 'content words’. By contrast, ‘content words’ are referred to technically as lexical items, or simply lexis.

Blogger Comments:

[1] The words 'better' and 'best' are not "grammatical items"; they combine the lexical features of 'good' with the grammatical features 'comparative' and 'superlative', respectively.

[2] This does not distinguish "grammatical items" from lexical items, since, in both cases, the meaning realised depends on the structural configuration in which they function.

"Grammatical items" are specified by the features of the closed and less delicate systems of the lexicogrammar, whereas lexical items form open sets and are specified by the features of the most delicate systems of the lexicogrammar.  Halliday (2008: 67, 174):
[…] you can, as expected, network through the grammar into the lexis; but what you end up with are not lexical items but lexical features. The lexical item will appear, but it will appear as a conjunct realisation of a number of these terminal features. The features are thus components of the lexical items, but the description differs from a usual componential analysis in two important respects. In the first place, the components are systemic: they are organised in sets of systemic options; and in the second place, more significantly, they are derived by ordered steps in delicacy all the way from the primary grammatical categories. …
The notion of grammaticalisation depends on the notion of a closed system. This has the properties:
  1. a small fixed set of possibilities, x/y/z…, which are
  2. mutually exclusive, x = “not y or z”, and
  3. strictly proportional, x : y : z, is constant, with
  4. a defined condition of entry, eg nominal group, and
  5. generalised to a large domain of application, eg every major clause …
Lexical items, by contrast, form open sets; they are particular to certain domains, but open-ended and not so mutually defining: you can add a new lexical item to a set without perturbing the other members, whereas with a closed system if any term is added or taken away all the others move around.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Misrepresenting Analytical Incompetence As Respect For Otherness

Martin & Rose (2007: 42):
It might be even wiser to pause for a moment and consider the extent to which our affect, judgement and appreciation framework represents a western construction of feeling. Tutu’s Afro-Christian heritage might not factor attitude along these lines. We’re not wise enough to gaze beyond our categories here. But we are confident that other cultures will take pause, and look at what we’ve done through different eyes.

Blogger Comments:

Appraisal is a theory of language that can be used to describe different languages.  It was theorised on the basis of a description English.  The texts analysed by Martin & Rose are English language texts.  That is, they enact the interpersonal distinctions of English.  The above is merely an attempt to misrepresent the authors' inability to apply appraisal to a text — see the immediately preceding posts — as respect for "otherness".

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Misrepresenting One Text In Order To Misinterpret Another

Martin & Rose (2007: 41):
Perhaps a better reading of the drift of feeling in the Act would be one that follows Tutu’s comments on the meaning of ubuntu:
the spirit of ubuntu, the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships
Here order subsumes disorder; peace breaks out. These are the values the Act wants people to align with in the new rainbow republic. Accordingly it might be wise to group judgement and appreciation together here, under the headings of order and disorder, by way of displaying the attitude to reconciliation the Act is designed to enact:
democracy, peaceful co-existence, national unity, peace, reconciliation, reconstruction of society, understanding, reparation, ubuntu, reconciliation, reconstruction;
recognition of human rights, truth, well-being, amnesty, amnesty 
deeply divided society, strife, conflict, conflicts;
injustice, violations of human rights, vengeance, retaliation, victimisation, omissions, offences

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Martin and Rose propose to analyse the appraisal enacted in one text, an Explanatory memorandum of a Parliamentary Bill, by looking at the appraisal enacted in a section of a completely different text — of a significantly different register/text type (genre) — Tutu's book No Future Without Forgiveness.  This is the authors' response to being unable to apply appraisal consistently to the original text under discussion; see previous post.

[2]  This commentary is a misrepresentation of Tutu's text:
Further, retributive justice - in which an impersonal state hands down punishment with little consideration for victims and hardly any for the perpetrator - is not the only form of justice. I contend that there is another kind of justice, restorative justice, which is characteristic of traditional African jurisprudence. Here the central concern is not retribution or punishment but, in the spirit of ubuntu, the healing of breaches, the redressing of imbalances, the restoration of broken relationships. This kind of justice seeks to rehabilitate both the victim and the perpetrator, who should be given the opportunity to be reintegrated into the community he or she has injured by his or her offence. This is a far more personal approach, which sees the offence as something that has happened to people and whose consequence is a rupture in relationships.  Thus we would claim that justice, restorative justice, is being served when efforts are being made to work for healing, for forgiveness and for reconciliation. (Tutu 1999: 48-52)
The purpose of this misrepresentation is to justify the 'order vs disorder' analysis that follows.

[3] Trivially, this misunderstands the meaning of 'subsume'.  Here Martin and Rose claim that a proposed hyponymic relation between two antonyms, order and disorder, accompanies peace.

[4] Returning to an Explanatory memorandum of a Parliamentary Bill, Martin and Rose relabel their previous distinction between (positive) appreciation and (negative) judgement as a distinction between order and disorder, respectively, on the basis of their misrepresentation of another text, Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness.  See the previous post for some of the reasons why the original analysis (appreciation vs judgement) is a misunderstanding and misapplication of Appraisal theory.

Moreover, in terms of metafunction, the distinction between 'order' and 'disorder' is an ideational one, not an interpersonal one; it is a distinction in the construing of experience as meaning, not a distinction in the enactment of intersubjective relations as meaning.  It is the values that are attributed to 'order' and 'disorder' that can function interpersonally in a text.

Furthermore, as classes, the terms 'order' and 'disorder' are largely inconsistent with the members attributed to each of them.  For example, conflict, injustice, violations of human rights, vengeance, retaliation, victimisation, omissions and offences can all be carried out in an orderly fashion in an orderly regime.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Mistaking Ethical Behaviours For Tokens Of Appreciation

Martin & Rose (2007: 41):
For this analysis we’ve concentrated on items that don’t directly involve judgement. But the following paragraph gives us pause:
AND SINCE the Constitution states that there is a need for understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu but not for victimisation
Here the Act systematically opposes what we treated as appreciation above to terms which more explicitly involve ethical considerations, i.e. judgements about impropriety of people’s behaviour:
appreciation (healing)      judgement (impropriety)
understanding                vengeance
reparation                       retaliation
ubuntu                            victimisation
Afro-Christian values are constructed as transcending western justice.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Grammatically, this portion of the Explanatory memorandum to the Parliamentary Bill construes a replacive relation between pairs of nominalised processes (with ubuntu interpreted as 'behaving with humanity towards others'):

for understanding
but not for vengeance
for reparation
but not for retaliation
for ubuntu
but not for victimisation

+ 2 extension: variation: replacive

Lexically, the nominalised processes are pairs of ethical and unethical behaviours:


That is, lexicogrammatically, in this portion of the text, the author proposes replacing unethical behaviours with ethical behaviours — these nominal groups being metaphorical realisations of proposals of what needs to be done.

If these lexical choices are tokens of attitude, then they are all assessments according to ethical values, and as such, are all tokens of judgement.  However, the question here is whether mentioning a positively valued quality, such as 'goodness', functions as an appraisal, as when something is assessed as 'good'.

[2] This again mistakes an appraisable process ('healing') for a standard by which to appraise (e.g. propriety).

[3] This ineffable twaddle misrepresents the inability of the authors to apply appraisal theory consistently as an insight into the different cultural values of an "other" community.