The Thought Occurs

Monday, 22 January 2018

Pageviews by Countries Since Blog Relocation

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
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8866
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Germany
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Indonesia
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United Kingdom
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United Arab Emirates
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"Courtesy Costs Nothing"




Monday, 8 January 2018

Know-Howable Linguistics

Those who lack all idea that it is possible to be wrong can learn nothing except know-how.

 — Gregory Bateson Mind And Nature (1979: 26)

Monday, 4 December 2017

Self-Assessment

"If there are any idiots in the room, will they please stand up" said the sarcastic teacher.
After a long silence, one freshman rose to his feet.
"Now then mister, why do you consider yourself an idiot?" enquired the teacher with a sneer.
"Well, actually I don't," said the student, "but I hate to see you standing up there all by yourself.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Study Of Discourse (‘Text Linguistics’)

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 731):
A text is meaningful because it is an actualisation of the potential that constitutes the linguistic system; it is for this reason that the study of discourse (‘text linguistics’) cannot properly be separated from the study of the grammar that lies behind it.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Word: Lexical Item vs Grammatical Rank

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 568-9):
The folk notion of the “word” is really a conflation of two different abstractions, one lexical and one grammatical.
(i) Vocabulary (lexis): the word as lexical item, or "lexeme". This is construed as an isolate, a 'thing' that can be counted and sorted in (alphabetical) order. People "look for" words, they "put thoughts into" them, "put them into" or "take them out of another's", and nowadays they keep collections of words on their shelves or in their computers in the form of dictionaries. Specialist knowledge is thought of as a matter of terminology. The taxonomic organisation of vocabulary is less exposed: it is made explicit in Roget's Thesaurus, but is only implicit in a standard dictionary. Lexical taxonomy was the first area of language to be systematically studied by anthropologists, when they began to explore cultural knowledge as it is embodied in folk taxonomies of plants, animals, diseases and the like. 
(ii) Grammar: the word as one of the ranks in the grammatical system. This is, not surprisingly, where Western linguistic theory as we know it today began in classical times, with the study of words varying in form according to their case, number, aspect, person etc.. Word-based systems such as these do provide a way in to studying grammatical semantics: but the meanings they construe are always more complex than the categories that appear as formal variants, and grammarians have had to become aware of covert patterns.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Knowledge

Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 3):
We contend that the conception of ‘knowledge’ as something that exists independently of language, and may then be coded or made manifest in language, is illusory. All knowledge is constituted in semiotic systems, with language as the most central; and all such representations of knowledge are constructed from language in the first place.


Friday, 24 November 2017

The Transitivity Of Bamboozlement

One of the main points of these papers (derived from our 12 year collaborative research center on space ...) is to open up the 'space' (ha ha) between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions so that the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation is both made visible and constrained sufficiently so that it can be worked with productively.
This is a hypotactically elaborating clause complex, with the dependent clause enclosed within the main clause:

One of the main points of these papers
<< derived from our 12 year collaborative research center on space >>
is to open up the 'space' between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions so that the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation is both made visible and constrained sufficiently so that it can be worked with productively

β

α

Ranking α Clause


The ranking α clause has a lexical density of about 23, depending how it it measured.  It metaphorically construes an identity of purpose, wherein the Value (one of the main points of these papers) is encoded by reference to the Token (to open up the 'space' between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions so that the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation is both made visible and constrained sufficiently so that it can be worked with productively):

One of the main points of these papers
is
to open up the 'space' between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions so that the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation is both made visible and constrained sufficiently so that it can be worked with productively
Identified Value
Process
Identifier Token

The clause is marked for both voice (receptive) and direction of coding (encoding).

Identifier Token


The Identifier Token in this relation is realised as an embedded clause complex in which the main clause is hypotactically enhanced, first in terms of result — and this includes a nested paratactic extending nexus — and then in terms of purpose:

to open up the 'space' between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions
so that the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation is both made visible
and constrained sufficiently
so that it can be worked with productively
α
x β cause: result
x γ cause: purpose

1
+ 2


Embedded α Clause


The α clause in the embedded complex serving as Identifier Token is a non-finite abstract material clause:

to open up
the 'space' between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions
Process
Goal

The Goal of this clause is realised by a nominal group in which the Thing is both metaphorical (circumstantial) and abstract:

the
'space'
between a grammatically-induced semantics and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions
Deictic
Thing
Qualifier

The Qualifier of this nominal group is realised by a prepositional phrase whose Range is realised by a paratactically extending nominal group complex:

between
a grammatically-induced semantics
and any contextualised use of involved grammatical constructions
Process
Range

1
+ 2

The first nominal group construes a semantic theory as Thing and sub-classifies it as grammatically-induced:

a
grammatically-induced
semantics
Deictic
Classifier
Thing

The second nominal group metaphorically construes a process ('use') as Thing, which it sub-classifies as contextualised, and metaphorically construes the congruent medium of the process involved grammatical constructions as Qualifier:

any
contextualised
use
of involved grammatical constructions
Deictic
Classifier
Thing
Qualifier

The Qualifier of this nominal group is realised by a prepositional phrase:

of
involved grammatical constructions
Process
Range

The Range of this prepositional phrase is realised by a nominal group that sub-classifies constructions as grammatical, and identifies them as involved:

involved
grammatical
constructions
post-Deictic
Classifier
Thing

Embedded β1 Clause


The β1 clause in the embedded complex serving as Identifier Token is an attributive clause that assigns the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation to the set visible:

so that
the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation
is
both
made
visible

Carrier
Process
Attribute

The Carrier is realised by a nominal group that metaphorically construes a quality as Thing:

the
enormous
flexibility
of ranges of interpretation
Deictic
Epithet
Thing
Qualifier

The Qualifier is realised by a prepositional phrase:

of
ranges of interpretation
Process
Range

The Range of this prepositional phrase is realised by a nominal group:

ranges
of interpretation
Thing
Qualifier

Embedded β2 Clause


The β2 clause in the embedded complex serving as Identifier Token has an ellipsed Mood element:

the enormous flexibility of ranges of interpretation
is constrained
sufficiently
Carrier
Process
Attribute
Manner: degree

Embedded γ Clause


The γ clause in the embedded complex serving as Identifier Token is a receptive material clause:

so that
it
can be worked with
productively

Goal
Process
Manner: quality

Ranking β Clause


The ranking elaborating clause can be analysed as 

derived from
our 12 year collaborative research center on space
Process: circumstantial
Attribute

The Attribute is realised by the nominal group:

our
12 year
collaborative
research center
on space
Deictic
post-Deictic
Classifier
Thing
Qualifier

The Thing of the nominal group is realised by a word complex:

research
center
β
α


Conclusion


This is the wording of someone who expects not to be understood, the social function of which has been described by Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 272):
So the more the extent of grammatical metaphor in a text, the more that text is loaded against the learner, and against anyone who is an outsider to the register in question. It becomes elitist discourse, in which the function of constructing knowledge goes together with the function of restricting access to that knowledge, making it impenetrable to all except those who have the means of admission to the inside, or the select group of those who are already there. 
It is this other potential that grammatical metaphor has, for making meaning that is obscure, arcane and exclusive, that makes it ideal as a mode of discourse for establishing and maintaining status, prestige and hierarchy, and to establish the paternalistic authority of a technocratic elite whose message is 'this is all too hard for you to understand; so leave the decision-making to us.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Meaning "Beyond" The Clause

Halliday & Hasan (1976: 10):
It will be clear from what has been said above that cohesion is not just another name for discourse structure.  Discourse structure is, as the name implies, a type of structure; the term is used to refer to the structure of some postulated unit higher than the sentence, for example the paragraph, or some larger entity such as an episode or topic unit.

Note that the units postulated by Martin (1992: 325, 385) for discourse semantic structure — move, participant, message, message part — are not 'higher than the sentence', and have no postulated internal structure.

As Halliday & Hasan (1976) theorised, on the SFL model, "meaning beyond the clause" is realised by the systems of cohesion, the non-structural resource of the textual metafunction.

Friday, 27 October 2017

How To Distinguish Circumstance From Qualifier

Diagnostic: Thematicity

Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 270-1):
To differentiate them in analysis, we can apply textual probes: in principle, being an element of the clause, a circumstance is subject to all the different textual statuses brought about by theme, theme predication and theme identification. … In contrast, a Qualifier cannot on its own be given textual status in the clause since it is a constituent of a nominal group, not of the clause; so it can only be thematic together with the rest of the nominal group it is part of.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

An Analysis Of Jim Martin's Argument That Appraisal Theory Is Not A Theory

Martin (2017: 22):
In late 2012 I was approached by a very concerned research student who reported that some people were saying ‘Appraisal Theory’ wasn’t a theory at all, but just a description. To which I replied: “Yes, of course. That’s right. Systemic Functional Linguistics (hereafter SFL) is the theory. APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English”.
[Martin (2017) The Discourse Semantics of Attitudinal Relations: Continuing the Study of Lexis, Russian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 21, No 1, 22-47]


Blogger Comments:

A. Martin's argument can be broken down to two exchanges:
An anonymous student's report of anonymous others: 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory…
Martin: Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory. 
An anonymous student's report of anonymous others: 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory…
Martin: APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English..
Notice firstly that 'cause: reason' is entirely absent, both explicitly and implicitly, from both exchanges.  That is, neither exchange constitutes a reasoned argument.

Notice secondly that there are no explicit logico-semantic relations between Martin's replies and the anonymous claim.  That is, the reader is left to supply the implicit logico-semantic relation in both exchanges.

Notice thirdly that the implicit logico-semantic relation, in both cases, is 'extension: variation: replacive' (not X but Y).  That is, in both exchanges, Martin merely replaces one assertion with another.

In short, Martin has merely pontificated an opinion, unsupported by reasoning, and has disguised the lack of reasoning by leaving the logico-semantic relations implicit.


B. More shortcomings become evident, if it is assumed, for the sake of argument, that the implicit logico-semantic relation in both cases is one of 'cause: reason'.  This can be demonstrated by making the causal relation both explicit and structural:
  1. 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory [because] Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory.
  2. 'Appraisal Theory' isn't a theory [because] APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English.
The two reasons attributed to Martin for the exclusion of 'Appraisal Theory' from the set of theories can be considered in turn.

The argument in (1) is that because Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory, 'Appraisal Theory' is not a theory.  It can be seen that the one does not logically entail the other since, even if Systemic Functional Linguistics is the theory, it does not logically exclude the possibility that 'Appraisal Theory' is a theory.  Such matters depend on how 'theory' is defined, and Martin provides no definition of the term, thereby providing no opportunity for its negotiation.

Incidentally, the strategic use of the here also plays a rôle, given its function; Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 367):
The word the is a specific, determinative Deictic of a peculiar kind: it means ‘the subset in question is identifiable; but this will not tell you how to identify it – the information is somewhere around, where you can recover it’. … Hence the is usually accompanied by some other element that supplies the information required … . If there is no such information supplied, the subset in question will either be obvious from the situation, or else will have been referred to already in the discourse
The argument in (2) is that because APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English, 'Appraisal Theory' is not a theory.  Again, it can be seen that the one does not logically entail the other, since even if APPRAISAL is a description of resources for evaluation in English, it does not logically exclude the possibility that 'Appraisal Theory' is also a theory.  Again, such matters depend on how 'theory' is defined, and Martin provides no definition of the term, thereby providing no opportunity for its negotiation.

Two questions that might occur to any discourse analyst capable of critical thinking are:
  1. What is at stake for Martin?
  2. Why would he want his readers to believe that Appraisal Theory is not a theory?