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Sunday, 17 March 2019

On English Text Being An Enormously Valuable Contribution To The Field

Bateman (1998: 26):
If one goes searching for ‘holes’, then holes there are enough — indeed, Martin already draws explicit attention to most of them himself, in some cases pointing to significant possibilities for further development. For English Text, however, it is the pattern of the fabric of discourse semantics as a whole, and how that pattern can be uncovered, that counts. This is already an enormously valuable contribution to the field. Moreover, with the richly exemplified and detailed introductions to the areas discussed in the book, the questions raised by English Text establish entire research directions in functional and other linguistics for the coming decade, encouraging combinations and interactions of areas that had previously not been at all evident. The book thus provides not only a crucial text book for students but a substantial research agenda for the semantics of discourse for some time to come.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, Martin, like Bateman, is completely oblivious to the theoretical inconsistencies that arise from his misunderstandings of Halliday's and Hasan's work, as set out in detail here.

[2] To be clear, what is "already an enormously valuable contribution to the field" is the original research work carried out by Halliday and Hasan on SPEECH FUNCTION and COHESION that Martin has merely misunderstood and rebranded as his own systems of NEGOTIATION, IDENTIFICATION, CONJUNCTION and IDEATION, as previously explained on this blog.

By not bothering to check the provenance of "Martin's" ideas, and not being able to assess their consistency with(in) SFL theory, Bateman has witlessly colluded with Martin to defraud an academic community and waste the research potential of generations of students.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

On CONJUNCTION And The Relationship Between Genre, Register And The Linguistic System

Bateman (1998: 25-6):
For all its complexity, I have used chapters of the book with few problems with students of varying experience — including those new to linguistics; I have also used positions in the book as the starting point for further linguistic research (particularly in the area of CONJUNCTION: cf. Bateman and Rondhuis, 1996) and for the design of computational models of the generation of texts (particularly here the relationship between genre, register and the linguistic system: cf. Bateman and Teich, 1995). Each such investigation has drawn close attention to areas where the proposals of English Text may need to be extended, refined, and perhaps changed; but without the starting point provided by English Text that work would not have been possible.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As set out in great detail here, Martin's logical discourse semantic system of CONJUNCTION is a confusion of two of Halliday's lexicogrammatical systems:
  • expansion manifested as cohesive conjunction (textual metafunction), and
  • expansion manifested as relations between units in complexes (logical metafunction).

Moreover, Martin creates (non-metaphorical) mismatches between semantics and grammar by
  • not organising his system on the basis of the three most general types of expansion, elaboration, extension and enhancement,
  • misunderstanding and misapplying types of expansion, especially concession,
  • misunderstanding the distinction between internal and external expansion relation, and
  • omitting projection entirely from the logical potential of discourse semantics.

[2] As set out in great detail here, Martin misunderstands "the relationship between genre, register and the language system".  For example, Martin
  • misunderstands varieties of language (register/genre) as culture instead of language,
  • misunderstands cultural dimensions (field/tenor/mode) as register dimensions,
  • misunderstands sub-systems (register/genre) as systems,
  • misunderstands two perspectives on the same phenomenon (register/genre) as different levels of symbolic abstraction (strata),
  • misunderstands genre as more abstract than the cultural dimensions (field/tenor/mode) realised by language, and
  • misunderstands instances of context (situations) as instances of language (texts).

In SFL theory, register and genre (text type) are two perspectives on the one point of variation of linguistic content on the cline of instantiation, midway between system and instance:

Sunday, 3 March 2019

On The Questions And Possibilities That Martin’s Approach Opens Up

Bateman (1998: 25):
It also requires, as with many things, an appropriate attitude when working with the book: English Text is clearly at its best when engaged with, rather than considered passively as a (potential) source of wisdom. Certainly, one of the most important aspects of the book is exactly the kinds of questions that it raises. When an attitude is adopted that foregrounds the questions and possibilities Martin’s approach opens up, the results are almost always beneficial.

Blogger Comments:

As demonstrated on this blog, and in more detail here, the kinds of questions and possibilities that Martin's approach in English Text opens up arise from deep misunderstandings of the global dimensions of SFL theory: stratification (evidence here), instantiation (evidence here) and metafunction (evidence here).

Moreover, any theoretical value in Martin's work lies in the original works that he has misunderstood and rebranded as his own:
  • Halliday's semantic SPEECH FUNCTION (rebranded as Martin's discourse semantic NEGOTIATION);
  • Halliday & Hasan's grammatical REFERENCE (rebranded as Martin's discourse semantic IDENTIFICATION);
  • Halliday & Hasan's grammatical ELLIPSIS-&-SUBSTITUTION (also rebranded as Martin's discourse semantic IDENTIFICATION);
  • Halliday & Hasan's grammatical cohesive CONJUNCTION (reinterpreted as Martin's discourse semantic CONJUNCTION, now rebranded as CONNEXION); and
  • Halliday & Hasan's LEXICAL COHESION (rebranded as Martin's discourse semantic IDEATION).
As Bateman has demonstrated in his review of Martin's English Text, he has not bothered to check the provenance of its content, nor has he been able to identify any of the wealth of theoretical inconsistencies that arise from Martin's misinterpretations. In recommending Martin's work, Bateman has done a great disservice to the academic community.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

On Martin’s Willingness To Speculate

Bateman (1998: 25):
Concerning a precursor to the model presented in English Text, Martin wrote:
“... one needs a model of text in context—of discourse in relation to grammar and lexis and to those semiotic systems which language itself realises. This takes us far beyond anything we can be sure of, into the realms of wild speculation perhaps. Nevertheless, some kind of model has to be set up if we are to progress; so here, with apologies, is my current best guess at how it all fits together.’’ (Martin, 1985:249) 
English Text takes that initial ‘best guess’ considerably further and apologies are now no longer due. Because of Martin’s willingness to speculate, the book places us all in a better position to make the next round of best guesses. This attitude of ongoing inquiry, of building tools and models to address fundamental issues in the functions and roles of language and not resting content within the boundaries of existing possibilities for theoretical description, follows fully in the Hallidayan tradition of relating language to social context in as linguistically responsible and explicit fashion as possible.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Amusingly, here Bateman concedes that apologies are due for Martin's initial 'best guess'.

[2] This is very misleading indeed, because it is the direct opposite of what is true.  On the one hand, Martin's speculations are merely his misinterpretations of Halliday and Hasan's ideas, rebranded as his systems on his stratum of discourse semantics, as previously explained on this blog, and argued in detail here.

On the other hand, English Text does not "place us all in a better position" — least of all for making guesses — because the misunderstandings on which it is based represent a step backward from his source material, and undermine the chances of new students forming a coherent and deep understanding of SFL theory.

[3] This is very misleading, because it is the direct opposite of what is true.  Martin's "attitude of ongoing inquiry" is merely his attempt to misrepresent himself as a genuinely innovative theorist.  The "tools and models" he builds do not address fundamental issues in the functions and rôles of language because, being misunderstandings, they are inconsistent with the theory in which they are situated.  The "tools and models" that do address these issues are those of the original works that Martin has misunderstood.

Moreover, given the above, "the boundaries of existing possibilities for theoretical description" that Martin has crossed are the boundaries of knowledge and ignorance, and of theoretical consistency and inconsistency, and as such, Martin's work does not follow "fully in the Hallidayan tradition of relating language to social context in as linguistically responsible and explicit fashion as possible".

In reviewing Martin's work positively, while demonstrably not understanding it or being able to critique it in theoretical terms, Bateman has merely exacerbated the damage done by Martin's publication. 

Sunday, 17 February 2019

On The Breadth And Systematic Interrelationships In 'English Text'

Bateman (1998: 25): 
One of the difficulties in approaching English Text is at the same time one of the principal reasons for making the effort—that is, its breadth. Work in the complex area of discourse organisation and function typically achieves a fragmentary view at best, focusing in on particular areas and phenomena. English Text goes beyond this, presenting both detail and systematic interrelationships that successfully evoke a feel for the semantics of discourse and its realisation in lexicogrammatical patterns as a complex interacting whole.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is very misleading.  Martin's model of discourse semantics is largely confined to the textual metafunction, and only part of that.  This is because Martin's systems of IDENTIFICATION, CONJUNCTION and IDEATION are misunderstandings of Halliday & Hasan's (1976) lexicogrammatical cohesion, rebranded and misrepresented as semantic stratum systems of three different metafunctions.  (The one exception is NEGOTIATION, which is Martin's rebranding of Halliday's interpersonal semantic system of SPEECH FUNCTION.)

[2] This is very misleading.  Martin's systems of IDENTIFICATIONCONJUNCTION and IDEATION do not specify how their paradigmatic features are realised syntagmatically, and do not specify how they are realised at the level of lexicogrammar.  Moreover, due to Martin's misunderstanding of theoretical concepts, the model creates mismatches between semantics and lexicogrammar, even in the absence of grammatical metaphor.

[3] Given all the misunderstandings that invalidate Martin's model, it is not true to claim that it evokes even a feeling for such matters successfully.


The arguments that constitute the evidence for all the above claims can be read here.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

On Praising English Text

Bateman (1998: 25): 
Both differences reinforce the central role that discourse plays in the construction of a comprehensive semantics that can fully motivate functional differences found in the lexicogrammar. Indeed, any brand of functional linguistics considers it self-evident that the deployment of grammatical and lexical phenomena in texts (written or spoken) is to be explained by considering the communicative and/or social purposes involved. Less self-evident is the fact that it is not a priori clear how particular groupings of grammatical and lexical phenomena are to be isolated for purposes of explanation: Until the relevant ‘comparison sets’ are known, the functional alternations operating can scarcely be recognised, let alone analysed or explained. English Text therefore provides a detailed characterisation of those comparison sets that supports a richly integrating view of the discourse functions involved.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, it is the grammar that plays the central rôle in "the construction of a comprehensive semantics".  As Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 22) put it:
Grammar is the central processing unit of language, the powerhouse where meanings are created …
'Discourse', on the other hand, refers to 'the patterned forms of wording that constitute meaningful semiotic contexts' (Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 512), and it is the textual metafunction that creates discourse.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 528): 
The “textual” metafunction is the name we give to the systematic resources a language must have for creating discourse: for ensuring that each instance of text makes contact with its environment. The “environment” includes both the context of situation and other instances of text.
In reinterpreting Halliday & Hasan's (1976) textual systems of cohesion as semantic systems, Martin has confused a metafunction (textual) with a level of symbolic abstraction (semantics).

[2] In terms of SFL theory, this has the relation backwards.  It is not the semantics that motivates "functional differences found in lexicogrammar" but the lexicogrammar that creates the functional differences at the level of semantics.

Moreover, Halliday's (1984) paper On The Ineffability Of Grammatical Categories argues that semantics can only be validly theorised by encoding semantic values by reference to grammatical tokens, at the same time explaining why the grammar cannot be validly theorised by decoding grammatical tokens by reference to semantic values.

[3] To be clear, on the one hand, it is the architecture of SFL grammatics that provides an explanation of grammatical and lexical phenomena.  On the other hand, explanation in SFL does not involve isolating grammatical and lexical phenomena, but determining the relations between them.  SFL is a relational theory, not a modular one.

[4] To be clear, this obfuscatory reference to experimental procedure ('comparison sets') only reinforces the fact that Bateman does not understand the hierarchy of stratification in SFL theory, wherein semantics and grammar are different levels of symbolic abstraction, which only disagree in the case of grammatical metaphor.

[5] To be clear, the use of therefore here is misleading, since this conclusion is not entailed by the propositions that precede it.  Moreover, as the clarifying critiques on this blog and the blog reviewing English Text demonstrate, this is manifestly untrue.  Martin has merely taken Halliday & Hasan's (1976) grammar of textual cohesion, misunderstood it, mixed it up with other sources, also misunderstood, and rebranded the confusion as his model of discourse semantics.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

On Martin's "Metafunctionally Diversified" Discourse Semantics

Bateman (1998: 24-5): 
And second, a very different kind of semantics needs to be pursued when a ‘metafunctionally diverse’ grammar is assumed. For non-metafunctionally diverse grammars, i.e., grammars which foreground basic predicate-argument structures, and which downgrade alternations such as diatheses, constructions of textual prominence, interpersonal evaluations and speech functions, the semantics resulting is skewed towards experiential, propositional content. In contrast, a ‘metafunctionally broad’ grammar—such as IFG—attempts to foreground equally the distinct kinds of meanings made in grammar; and, hence, Martin’s semantics as an abstraction made on the basis of such a grammar is naturally a discourse semantics, ranging over textual, interpersonal, as well as ideational areas.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory, 'propositional content' is interpersonal, not experiential.

[2] Here Bateman assumes that the 'natural' relation between lexicogrammar and semantics in SFL theory guarantees that Martin's discourse semantics will be metafunctionally diversified like the grammar, whereas such an outcome actually rests on the ability of the theorist to understand and consistently apply the theory.  As previously demonstrated over and over on this blog, and in far more detail here, this is certainly not the case.

For example, Martin takes Halliday & Hasan's (1976) four types of cohesion, all textual in metafunction and lexicogrammatical in terms of symbolic abstraction, and distributes them across three different metafunctions at a higher (unjustified) level of symbolic abstraction (discourse semantics):
  • reference and ellipsis–&–substitution (textual lexicogrammar) are rebranded IDENTIFICATION (textual discourse semantics),
  • cohesive conjunction (textual lexicogrammar) is rebranded CONJUNCTION (logical discourse semantics), and
  • lexical cohesion (textual lexicogrammar) is rebranded IDEATION (experiential discourse semantics).
Moreover, there are metafunctional confusions within each of these systems:
  • textual IDENTIFICATION confuses textual reference with interpersonal deixis and ideational denotation;
  • logical CONJUNCTION confuses (non-structural) textual conjunction with (structural) logical complexing; and
  • experiential IDEATION confuses textual lexical cohesion with logical relations between experiential elements of grammatical structures.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

On The Importance Of Martin's Stratification For Grammatical Metaphor

Bateman (1998: 24): 
Two essential differences between these approaches [cognitive linguistics and mainstream syntax] and that pursued by Martin are, however, the following. First, for Martin both the strata involved contribute ‘meaning’—the lexicogrammar is not a passive, automatic reflex of semantics but itself also contributes meaning as was maintained in the original Firthian tradition out of which systemic-functional linguistics has grown. This is of particular importance when we come to consider the role and function of ‘grammatical metaphor’: i.e., what happens when the semantic and grammatical options taken up are not congruent. For Halliday (and thus Martin) a significant part of the power of language comes from the ability to cross-code grammar and semantics: grammar does not slavishly follow semantics, once a sufficient degree of language use sophistication has been achieved by a language user, the natural meanings of grammar can be used to construct extended semantic configurations: the best discussed example of this being, of course, nominalisation. Here a semantic event is turned into a ‘thing’ that can be modified, counted, compared, tracked across discourse, etc. Adoption of an ‘incongruent’ realisation for a semantic configuration thus necessarily adds further meanings to that configuration, since the incongruent realisation itself has (discourse) semantic consequences. This follows straightforwardly from a basic premise of the approach: i.e., that grammar and semantics stand in a natural relationship; the patterns of grammar are recapitulations of the patterns of semantics (and vice versa).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Unknown to Bateman, Martin's notion that 'all strata make meaning' confuses stratification (all strata) with semogenesis (make meaning); see, for example, Confusing Semogenesis And Stratification or Misconstruing Stratification.  This is one of the contributing factors to Martin locating (varieties of) language, register and genre, in context.  Moreover, lexicogrammar is neither 'active' nor 'passive' with regard to semantics; the two strata are two perspectives on the same phenomenon, linguistic content, at different levels of symbolic abstraction.  That is why the relation between them is one of intensive symbolic identity (realisation).

[2] To be clear, Martin's discourse semantics undermines the notion of grammatical metaphor by not providing congruent realisations of its systems by which metaphorical realisations can be recognised as incongruent.  Moreover Martin creates mismatches between discourse semantics and lexicogrammar — e.g. conjunctive relations — even in the absence of metaphor.

[3] This seriously misunderstands grammatical metaphor. Grammatical metaphor does not involve using the grammar to construct 'extended semantic configurations'.  On the contrary, in ideational metaphor, for example, an 'extended semantic configuration' such a sequence is realised more compactly as a clause instead of a clause complex.

[4] To be clear, Martin does not understand grammatical metaphor (evidence here) and his meagre discussion of it is largely confined to nominalisation.

[5] This misunderstands grammatical metaphor.  The reason grammatical metaphor 'adds further meanings' is that it is the junction or fusion of the meanings of both the congruent and incongruent realisations; see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 243-4, 272, 278, 283, 287).  Any discourse semantic "consequences" are a separate matter.

[6] To be clear, this is Halliday, not Martin.

[7] To be clear, in SFL theory, the patterns of grammar and semantics are patterns of instantiation during logogenesis, and the relation between them is realisation, not "recapitulation" (restatement, reiteration, repetition etc.). Here Bateman echoes Martin's confusion between instantiation (patterns) and syntagmatic relations (structural or cohesive).  See, for example, Confusing Instantiation With The Syntagmatic Axis.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

On "Martin's" Solidary Relationship Between Grammar And Semantics

Bateman (1998: 24): 
Moreover, in certain respects, the approach in English Text also becomes more easily reconcilable, or at least, comparable, with many other approaches to grammar and semantics. Indeed, the position of a solidary, natural relationship between grammar and semantics has now become almost standard in many linguistic traditions: cognitive linguistics motivates linguistic forms on the basis of their ‘underlying’ cognitive structures (e.g., Langacker, 1987, Wierzbicka, 1988), the examination of ‘alternations’ in mainstream syntax posits semantic classes that explain differences in susceptibilities to undergo the various alternations in available constructions (Levin, 1993), even logical syntax has had syntax falling out of semantic structures for some time (e.g., Montague, 1974).

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is very misleading.  The natural relationship between grammar and semantics is part of the architecture of SFL theory, as formulated by Halliday.  Here Bateman gives the false impression that this is Martin's innovation — aided by Martin's Figure 1.12 (p20).

[2]  To be clear, the term 'solidary' (in Martin's Figure 1.12) actually means:
(of a group or community) characterised by solidarity or coincidence of interests.
e.g. a sociable and solidary regiment of some strength and purpose

Sunday, 13 January 2019

On The Theoretical Value Of Martin's Stratification Of The Content Plane

Bateman (1998: 23-4):
The availability of the two strata, lexicogrammar and discourse semantics, is presented as beneficial in most areas that Martin addresses. The value of stratification, and of allowing the description to range across two (or more) strata, is argued in all of the areas that Martin addresses in English Text. The ability to distinguish systematically between a semantic unit and a range of possible grammatical units or patterns of such units is of fundamental importance—particularly given the very richly elaborated view of grammar assumed. Opening up the realisational relation between a semantic description and a grammatical description significantly empowers grammatical metaphor as an explanatory device.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading to the extent that it gives the false impression that the stratification of the content plane into lexicogrammar and semantics is Martin's proposal rather than Halliday's (whose considerably prior notion of grammatical metaphor depends on such a stratification).

[2] To be clear, Martin argues for the value of his stratification because it allows him to create his own "module" within SFL theory by rebranding his misunderstandings of others' work as his own systems:
  • negotiation is Martin's rebranding of Halliday's speech function;
  • identification is Martin's rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's grammatical reference (and ellipsis-&-substitution);
  • conjunction is Martin's rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's grammatical conjunction; and
  • ideation is Martin's rebranding of Halliday & Hasan's lexical cohesion.

Martin's argument for stratification, however, presented in Chapter 1, does not survive close scrutiny; see, for example, Why The Argument For A 'Discourse' Semantic Stratum Is Invalid.

In brief, Martin provides three motivations for his stratification:
  • semantic motifs
  • grammatical metaphor
  • cohesion
Of the three, only grammatical metaphor motivates a distinct semantic stratum, but this is Halliday's argument, not Martin's, and it does not motivate a specifically discourse semantics. Moreover, Martin misunderstands grammatical metaphor (evidence here), and reinterprets it as a process, a "texturing interface" (p401) between his discourse semantic systems and lexicogrammar (ellipsis-&substitution, Theme and collocation), thereby undermining his own argument for it as a motivation for stratification.

Of semantic motifs, Martin proposes (p16) setting up an attitude network to generalise what he sees as commonalities between some mental, behavioural and relational clauses.  For some of the misunderstandings involved, see The Problems With Semantic Motifs As A Motivation For Stratification.  Even so, no mention of semantic motifs is made beyond Chapter 1, and Martin's experiential system, ideation, does not address the points he raises — which is hardly surprising, given that it is a rebranding of a textual grammatical system, lexical cohesion.

Regarding cohesion as a motivation for stratification, Martin's argument involves misrepresenting the source of his ideas: Halliday & Hasan's (1976) model of cohesion.  See, for example:

[3] To be clear, Martin's discourse semantic units are:
  • exchange and move (interpersonal system of negotiation)
  • participant (textual system of identification — i.e. rebranded cohesive reference etc.)
  • message (logical system of conjunction — i.e. rebranded cohesive conjunction), and
  • message part (experiential system of ideation — i.e. rebranded lexical cohesion).

The problems here are with Martin's rebranding of cohesive systems. Most importantly, because Martin treats these non-structural systems as structural, the units he proposes are not units with internal structure, but units that relate to other units. This creates an inconsistency in the meaning of unit, since all other units in SFL theory are units with internal structure. So these discourse semantic units are not units in the same sense as lexicogrammatical units, such as clause, phrase and group.

Martin's naming of units further reveals his theoretical misunderstandings.  For example, the use of an experiential category, participant, for a textual system, identification, is consistent with his misunderstanding of textual reference with ideational denotation, as explained elsewhere on this blog.  On the other hand, Martin's use of textual categories, message and message part, for ideational systems, conjunction and ideation, is inconsistent with his own theorising, but (metafunctionally) consistent with the source of his ideas, the textual systems of cohesive conjunction and lexical cohesion.  Moreover, in naming the two message and message part, Martin misrepresents a relation of interdependency as one of composition (whole-part).

[4] This is very misleading indeed.  Firstly, as already mentioned, Martin does not understand grammatical metaphor (evidence here).  Secondly, Martin does not open up "the realisational relation between a semantic description and a grammatical description" since he provides no realisation statements that relate his discourse semantic systems to lexicogrammatical systems. Thirdly, because Martin does not specify congruent lexicogrammatical realisations of his discourse semantic systems, he provides no means of identifying congruent vs metaphorical realisations using his model.  That is, if anything, Martin's model undermines grammatical metaphor rather than "empowering" it — the direct opposite of Bateman's claim.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

On Martin’s Explicit Modularisation Of The Linguistic System

Bateman (1998: 23):
The lack of neighbouring occupants at both more and less abstract levels of description with respect to ‘grammar’ has in the past allowed provided enough space for accounts of grammar to drift in both directions: thus we have, on the one hand, Hudson (e.g., Hudson, 1976) moving grammar to be less abstract, more form-bound and, on the other, Fawcett declaring that his system networks are in fact the semantic description of sentences, clauses, dialogues, etc.syntax as such being restricted to the realisation statementsMartin’s explicit modularisation of the linguistic system into closely related but distinct strata places more overall constraint on the model presented.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, a grammar that takes form as its point of departure is not a functional grammar, in the systemic functional sense.

[2] To be clear, Fawcett misinterprets Halliday's grammatical networks as semantic in order to claim the level of form for his own model.  For evidence that Fawcett misinterprets Halliday, see the clarifying critiques here.

[3] Strictly speaking, in Fawcett's (2000) confused model (Figure 4, below), realisation statements are presented as potential at the level of form, and the structures that realise them are presented as instance at the level of form.
 

[4] To be clear, Martin's "modularisation of the linguistic system", like Fawcett's, is a serious misunderstanding of the dimensional architecture of SFL theory, and so leads to the serious misunderstandings found in their models (as demonstrated here for Martin, and here for Fawcett). Halliday & Webster (2009: 231):
In SFL language is described, or “modelled”, in terms of several dimensions, or parameters, which taken together define the “architecture” of language. These are
(i) the hierarchy of strata (context, semantics, lexicogrammar, phonology, phonetics; related by realisation);
(ii) the hierarchy of rank (e.g. clause, phrase/group, word, morpheme; related by composition);
(iii) the cline of instantiation (system to instance);
(iv) the cline of delicacy (least delicate to most delicate, or grossest to finest);
(v) the opposition of axis (paradigmatic and syntagmatic);
(vi) the organisation by metafunction (ideational (experiential, logical), interpersonal, textual).
See also:

Sunday, 30 December 2018

On Martin's Controversial Move To Explicitly Consider Semantics

Bateman (1998: 23):
It is also certainly not the case that Martin’s approach is uncontroversial, even within his own functional tradition. The need for a move to explicitly consider semantics has sometimes been downplayed, aided in part by the rich functional semantic flavour that permeates grammatical descriptions such as that found in Halliday’s IFG; here “the grammar is infused with meaning, and a stratal distinction between grammar and semantics systematically blurred.’’[p33]. 

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Bateman again frames the matter in terms of agreement among linguists instead of in terms of theoretical validity.  The distinction between agreement and validity is encapsulated in the following cartoon of B. Kliban:



[2] This is potentially misleading, since Martin does not "explicitly consider semantics", because his discourse semantics, as previously explained, is merely a combination of Halliday's textual lexicogrammar (rebranded cohesion systems) and Halliday's previously theorised semantic system (rebranded speech function).

[3] To be clear, as Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49) explain:
Being a ‘functional grammar’ means that priority is given to the view ‘from above’; that is, grammar is seen as a resource for making meaning — it is a ‘semanticky’ kind of grammar. But the focus of attention is still on the grammar itself.
[4] This quote from Martin demonstrates his misunderstanding of stratification, which is also encompassed in his mantra 'all strata make meaning', which confuses stratification ('all strata') with semogenesis ('make meaning'), and leads him to interpret every stratum as a stratum of meaning.  See, for example, Misrepresenting Stratification.

To be clear, SFL theory distinguishes between meaning (semantics) and wording (lexicogrammar), principally because the distinction is essential for the systematic understanding of grammatical metaphor.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

On The Substantive Content Of Martin's English Text

Bateman (1998: 23):
Concerning the substantive content of the book, it is not possible that one would agree with all of the claims and analyses that Martin makes, nor with all aspects of the methodology, and some unclarities are introduced by the very position developed. For example, since now so much work is being done in the discourse semantics, there are probably ramifications for how a lexicogrammar should be organised: in Chapter 3, Martin notes his earlier critique of Halliday’s DEIXIS network in lexicogrammar, and in Chapter 5 the restriction of lexis as most delicate grammar to field-neutral oppositions is clearly a strong constraint. But there is little discussion of this in the book; it is generally stated that the account is compatible with Halliday and Matthiessen’s descriptions, which may be broadly the case. But particular differences in description may well be necessary. However, given that the focus of English Text is primarily on the discourse semantic stratum, this omission is probably quite justified.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, it is not a matter whether linguists agree about Martin's theorising, but whether Martin's theorising agrees with data and with the rest of the theory in which it is situated.

[2] To be clear, Martin's discourse semantics, apart from his rebranding of speech function, is rebranded lexicogrammar (textual cohesion):
  • IDENTIFICATION is rebranded cohesive reference and ellipsis-&substitution, misunderstood, and confused with ideational denotation and with interpersonal deixis of the nominal group, inter alia (evidence here);
  • IDEATION is rebranded lexical cohesion, misunderstood as experiential in metafunction, and confused with lexis as most delicate grammar and with misunderstood logical relations between ergative functions of the clause, inter alia (evidence here); and
  • CONJUNCTION is rebranded cohesive conjunction, misunderstood as logical in metafunction, and confused with misunderstood logical relations between clauses in clause complexes (evidence here).

[3] To be clear, Martin confuses the interpersonal deictic function of determiners in the nominal group with the textual reference function of determiners in non-structural cohesion (evidence here).

[4] To be clear, Martin's proposal (pp289-90) is to locate "field-neutral" lexical taxonomies in lexicogrammar and "field-specific" lexical taxonomies outside language at the level of context (misunderstood as register) — with lexical relations at the level between them, discourse semantics.  

In terms of stratification, the proposal locates lexicogrammatical phenomena at three levels of symbolic abstraction, one of them outside language.  In terms of realisation, the proposals are that:
  • field-specific lexical taxonomies are realised in lexical relations, and
  • lexical relations are realised in field-neutral taxonomies
Or, taking metaredundancy into account, field-specific lexical taxonomies are realised in the realisation of lexical relations in field-neutral taxonomies.

[5] To be clear, Martin's account is not even broadly "compatible with Halliday & Matthiessen's descriptions"; it violates the theoretical architecture and misunderstands its basic concepts (evidence here).

[6] To be clear, the difference between modelling semantics and lexicogrammar is the level of symbolic abstraction, meaning or wording, that the theorising is concerned with.  A model of semantics specifies the systems of meaning that are realised in wording; a model of lexicogrammar specifies the systems of wording that realise meaning.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

On Martin's System Of Nuclear Relations

Bateman (1998: 22-3):
Even I am not quite sure about Figure 5.23, which sets out the subtypes of nuclear lexical relations in IDEATION: It could be a summary overview of the material or a very interesting hypothesis about the relationship between the semantic region of IDEATION and its lexicogrammatical realisation. I suspect the latter, but this interpretation is certainly missed in, for example, Tucker’s (1998) review of approaches to lexis, Martin’s included. Tucker criticises Martin for not giving details of lexicogrammatical realisation, whereas the details of Figure 5.23 are very precise in the particular grammatical environments called for. Martin may well have intended these possible alternative interpretations; they certainly invite close consideration of the nature and form of a linguistic description!
These superficial difficulties can all, by and large, be unravelled or contextualised by close reading, but for the student who is perhaps still struggling with the overall map of the system, the difficulty is an unnecessary overhead.


Blogger Comments:

[1] As this blog demonstrates, Bateman's "modest" use of even I (thematised counter-expectancy: exceeding) is entirely unwarranted.

[2] To be clear, Martin's Figure 5.23, Nuclear Relations In English, is the system network for nuclear relations, one of the more delicate systems of Lexical Relations In English (Figure 5.10), and so, in that sense, it is a "summary overview of the material".

The reason why Figure 5.23 is not "a very interesting hypothesis about the relationship between the semantic region of IDEATION and its lexicogrammatical realisation" is that it does not specify how any of its features are realised grammatically.

One reason why Bateman was fooled, in this respect, is that Martin falsely presents examples — chase + cat, her + cat, etc — in the form of realisation statements.

Another reason why Bateman was fooled, in this respect, is that the network presents a view of what is purported to be a semantic system from the perspective of the view from below, lexicogrammar, as demonstrated by the "discourse semantic" features [clausal], [verbal], [nominal].  The view from below is the opposite perspective of that taken in theorising in SFL.

In this regard, Bateman has mistaken a network of grammatical features for the grammatical realisations of a discourse semantic system.

The irony, of course, is that, in modelling lexical relations, Martin's system is a proposal for a lexicogrammatical system.  It's just that neither Martin nor Bateman realises it.

[3] As the argument in [2] demonstrates, Tucker was entirely justified in criticising "Martin for not giving details of lexicogrammatical realisation".

[4] Strictly speaking, these are not alternative interpretations, since the system in Figure 5.23 is presented by Martin as both, "a summary overview of the material" and as a discourse semantic system realised in lexicogrammar.

[5] This is true.

[6] To be clear, "superficial difficulties" such as those identified in [2] are more accurately described as serious theoretical inconsistencies, which even Bateman's close reading failed to identify.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

On Martin's Use Of System Networks

Bateman (1998: 22):
An example of one of the more superficial presentational problems is the ready use made of system networks for a number of different purposes as well as for linguistic descriptions at all of the strata treated in the book — i.e., lexicogrammar, discourse semantic, register, and genre. It is as a consequence not always immediately clear at what level of description a particular system network is being presented—thus Figure 2.2 is for MOOD (i.e., from the lexicogrammar) while the figure following, Figure 2.3, is speech function (i.e., from the discourse semantics); similarly, Figure 5.10 is a discourse semantic network, whereas Figures 5.11 and 5.12 are drawn from the field component of register and Figures 5.3–5.9 from the lexicogrammar. Sometimes, it is not even clear if a network is part of the intended linguistic description at all; some networks are simply presenting overviews of the material introduced in the book: e.g., Figure 1.16’s overview of types of linguistic structure, or Figure 3.10’s summary of types of phoricity (although these latter can then always, of course, be considered as field-specific taxonomies defining the technical terms involved as set out in the chapter on IDEATION: they are not earmarked as such in the text however).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Bateman's confusion in this regard stems from the fact that Martin uses the system network schema both for genuine system networks and for simple classifying taxonomies (e.g. Figures 1.16, 3.10, 5.11, 5.12).  

[2] To be clear, Halliday's speech function is a genuine semantic system — one that can be realised congruently or metaphorically in a grammatical system of the same metafunction (mood) — rather than Martin's rebranding of textual grammatical systems (cohesion) as discourse semantic systems of various metafunctions.

[3] To be clear, Martin's Figure 5.10 presents relations between lexical items (lexicogrammar) as a discourse semantic system.

[4] To be clear, the fact that these latter taxonomies are not identified in the text by Martin as taxonomies specific to the field of discourse semantics demonstrates that Martin did not realise that they could be interpreted as such in terms of his own model.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

On Subsequent Works Relating Genre To Grammar

Bateman (1998: 22):
Fortunately, some of the discussions of English Text and the work out of which English Text has grown have already started making their way into introductory text books in systemic functional linguistics, of which there have recently been a number of important publications. Eggins (1994), for example, assumes the English Text model as the basic starting point for her introduction, while notions of genre and its relation to grammar are explicitly introduced and summarised in both Gerot and Wignall (1994) and, in more detail, Butt, Fahey Spinks and Yallop (1995). This orientation gives students a clear additional reason and motivation for learning the intricacies of grammatical description, for only then is one in a good position to search out genre. They will also help substantially when beginning to comes to terms with English Text itself.

Blogger Comments:

This is potentially misleading.  Unlike Martin's students Eggins and Wignell, Butt et al. (1995) do not build on Martin's model of genre, but on that of Martin's source, Hasan, distinguishing, for example, between context (4, 7) on the one hand, and genre as text type on the other (8-14).

Sunday, 25 November 2018

On Martin's Model And Critical Discourse Analysis

Bateman (1998: 21):
And, even if the reader is not yet ready to follow Martin’s proposal that English Text is to be read “(in part) in the context of projects oriented to de-naturalising hegemonic discourses and, ..., facilitating intervention in the political process’’[p2], one essential lesson that remains is that socially, culturally, and ideologically informed discussions should, and now can, be linguistically responsible. No critical discourse can really stand without such a model in place. It should in fact no longer be acceptable for such discussions to omit linguistic detail; any such omission compromises the exactitude of the discussion and raises the likelihood that what is being discussed is more opinion than empirical result. This should also have substantial pedagogical implications within discourse theory and critical discourse. Without proficiency in the tools necessary to become linguistically responsible, an analysis cannot aim at being so. Blunt tools yield rough analyses.

Blogger Comments:

To be clear, as demonstrated in great detail here, Martin's discourse semantics is largely Halliday & Hasan's lexicogrammatical cohesion, misunderstood, rebranded and relocated to his module of discourse semantics.  Martin's context consists of language varieties, register and genre — misunderstood as different levels of symbolic abstraction — and ideology misunderstood as Bernstein's coding orientations.  For these reasons, and more, the tools Martin provides for discourse analysis are  demonstrably "without proficiency" and "blunt".

To be clear, it is the source of Martin's discourse semantics, Halliday's model of lexicogrammar, that provides the tools of "linguistically responsible" text analysis.  As Halliday (1985: xvi-xvii) argues:
The current preoccupation is with discourse analysis, or 'text linguistics'; and it has sometimes been assumed that this can be carried on without grammar — or even that it is somehow an alternative to grammar.  But this is an illusion.  A discourse analysis that is not based on grammar is not an analysis at all, but simply a running commentary on a text … the exercise remains a private one in which one explanation is as good or as bad as another.
A text is a semantic unit, not a grammatical one.  But meanings are realised through wordings; and without a theory of wordings — that is, a grammar — there is no way of making explicit one's interpretation of the meaning of a text.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

On Required Extensions Of Genre Theory

Bateman (1998: 21):
Martin himself draws attention to some of the ways in which the theory will have to be extended, including the move from genre ‘agnation’ (i.e., organisation into system networks) to genre topologyand the tension between synoptic (language as product) and dynamic accounts.


Blogger Comments:

[1] On the one hand, this misunderstands genre agnation, since genre agnation is concerned with systemic relations between genres in a genre taxonomy, not with agnation in system networks that model genre as potential.  On the other hand, this is misleading, since Martin provides neither a taxonomy of genres nor a system network of genre potential to "move from" in extending the theory.

[2] To be clear, a genre topology would represent the degrees of relatedness between different genres.  In SFL theory, where genre means text type — that is: register viewed from the instance pole of the cline of instantiation — the degree of relatedness between text types is measured by the relative frequencies of shared semantic and lexicogrammatical features.

[3] As previously demonstrated, Martin misunderstands the synoptic vs dynamic distinction, with  his 'synoptic' corresponding to syntagmatic structure and his 'dynamic' to instantiation in logogenesis.  In relation to genre, this distinction arises in his application of metafunctional structure types — particle, prosody and wave — to genre (pp548-60), despite the fact that his genre, contrary to SFL theory, is not theorised on the basis of the three metafunctions.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Endorsing Martin's Model Of Context By Means Of A Logical Fallacy

Bateman (1998: 21):
The stratified model of context argued for by Martin in this chapter has now been extensively applied in a range of social contexts, ranging across the original areas of application in education to various institutionalised discourse situations. Some of the more recent work building on the approach is given in Christie and Martin (1997). This work shows that, although the formulation of accounts of genre may have now moved on in various directions, and the original model may have been subject to criticism from several perspectives, this does little to detract from the scope and perspective found in Chapter 7. It is only with the kind of explicit modelling and interrelationships posited in the chapter—no matter how the phenomena addressed come eventually to be modelled—that any attempt to understand the social functions of language can really be made.

Blogger Comments:


[1] As an argument for the validity of Martin's misunderstanding of context as varieties of language (register/genre) and coding orientations ("ideology"), Bateman here deploys the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad populum, which concludes that a proposition must be true because many or most people believe it.

[2] To be clear, these "social contexts" in which Martin's model has been used are, on Martin's model, those of ideology, genre and register.

[3] To be clear, criticisms from perspectives such as theoretical consistency and internal consistency do much "to detract from the scope and perspective found in Chapter 7".

[4] To be clear, in terms of explicitness, Martin provides no system networks for either genre or ideology, and none of his networks include realisation statements that specify structure at their own level, or preselected features at the stratum below.

In terms of interrelatedness, Martin misunderstands the principle of stratification (evidence here), and misunderstands the realisational relation between strata (evidence here).

Sunday, 4 November 2018

On Bakhtin, Genre And Stratified Context

Bateman (1998: 21):
Explicit reference is made at the outset of the chapter [p494] to the very compatible work of Bakhtin (e.g,. 1986). However, combined with the previous chapters on discourse semantics and the presumption of an explicit and extensive lexicogrammar, the model of genre presented in this chapter certainly goes beyond any other account proposed previously in terms of its linguistic basis and ability both to draw linguistic consequences from the abstract descriptions of register, genre and ideology and, conversely, to use linguistic data to motivate such abstract descriptions.

Blogger Comments:

[1] What Bateman neglects to tell the reader here is that Martin misunderstands the work of Bakhtin; see, for example:
[2] To be clear, the significant previous work on genre is Martin's source, Hasan, who models genre in terms consistent with SFL theory.  Moreover, Martin misunderstands Hasan's (1989: 64) Generic Structure Potential, which models semantic structure of specific genres, as the structure realising a system of genre (misunderstood as culture instead of language).

[3] As previously explained, Martin's context — stratified as register, genre and ideology — is theorised on the basis of fundamental misunderstandings of SFL theory, and, as such, is riddled with internal inconsistencies.  See also, for example: