Sunday, 22 October 2017

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Misrepresenting Halliday On 'Form'

Fawcett (2010: 37):
However, there is a problem about using the term "lexicogrammar" (or indeed "grammar") in a sense that includes the level of meaning. The problem is that Halliday has explored two different positions on the issue of what we might call 'levels of meaning', and when he uses the term "lexicogrammar" it is typically in a sense where it is equated with the level of form, such that this is in a relationship of realisation to the level of "semantics". (See Sections 4.6 to 4.9 of Chapter 4 for a full account of Halliday's two positions, and for the reasons why I think that his first position is greatly preferable.)

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[1] This is misleading in a way that supports Fawcett's stance.  Even before developing Systemic Functional Grammar, Halliday (2006 [1961]: 39) defines his theoretical levels as follows:
The primary levels are form, substance and context. The substance is the material of language: phonic (audible noises) or graphic (visible marks). The form is the organisation of the substance into meaningful events: meaning is a concept, and a technical term, of the theory. The context is the relation of the form to non-linguistic features of the situations in which language operates, and to linguistic features other than those of the item under attention: these being together “extratextual” features.
With the development and substantial elaboration of Systemic Functional Grammar, Halliday (1985) distinguishes between function and form on the lexicogrammatical stratum, with form modelled as the rank scale, from clause to morpheme, and with the choice of rank as the entry condition to the functions available at that rank.  In later editions, as if to answer misunderstandings like those of Fawcett, 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.
[2] Fawcett's "full" account will be examined in detail in the critiques and clarifications of Sections 4.6 to 4.9 of Chapter 4.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

What Fawcett Means By 'Grammar'

Fawcett (2010: 37):
At this point I should clarify the sense in which I am using the terms "grammar" and "meaning". Let us take "grammar" first, since it is used in the caption for Figure 4. In "Categories", "grammar" was the name of a subcomponent of the level of form, but here its meaning has been extended in two ways. The most obvious is that a grammar now includes a level of meaning as well as a level of form. Thus a 'grammar' is essentially a model of the sentence-generating component of a full model of language and its use. The second extension — which is less obvious — is that the term "grammar" is regularly used as a short form for "lexicogrammar".

Blogger Comments:

[1] Contrary to the implication, this "extension" of the meaning of 'grammar' to 'lexicogrammar' is not Fawcett's.  It appears in Categories of the Theory of Grammar (Halliday 1961), where lexis is conceived as most delicate grammar.  Halliday (2004 [1961]: 54):
The theoretical place of the move from grammar to lexis is therefore not a feature of rank but one of delicacy.  It is defined theoretically as the place where increase in delicacy yields no further systems;

[2] To be clear, Fawcett stratifies grammar into meaning and form, whereas Halliday locates meaning in semantics, and distinguishes between grammatical functions and grammatical forms (the rank scale).  Crucially, it is the distinction between semantics and lexicogrammar that allows Halliday to account for grammatical metaphor in his model.