Sunday, 27 May 2018

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Fawcett's Eight Major Types Of Meanings


Fawcett (2010: 51n):
In fact, Halliday recognises four 'metafunctions': the experiential, logical, interpersonal and textual. I have long advocated the value of recognising the eight major types of meaning listed in the main text (and three minor ones), e.g., as described in Fawcett (1980), (in press) and (forthcoming a). This difference in the degree of 'delicacy' between the Sydney and Cardiff Grammars — a metaphor explored in Gregory (1987) — will be reflected in the descriptions of texts in Sections 7.2 and 7.9 of Chapter 7, but it has no direct consequences for the theoretical concepts discussed in the present book. 

Blogger Comments:

As the term 'metafunction' suggests, these are 'functions of functions' or 'the functions behind functions'.  That is, they are of a different order to the functions of which they are 'meta'; cf. phenomenon vs metaphenomenon.  Fawcett's eight major types of meaning confuse functions of the two distinct orders, grouping second-order functions — the experiential, interpersonal and logical metafunctions — with first-order functions — polarity, validity, affective, thematic and informational, the first three of which are interpersonal, and the final two textual.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Misunderstanding The Theoretical Significance Of 'Functional'

Fawcett (2010: 50-1):
If the word semantic had not been associated with the narrow definition of 'meaning' that it had for most linguists in the 1960s and 1970s, it is possible that Halliday's revised model of language might have been called "Systemic Semantic Grammar". Instead, it is Systemic Functional Grammar — and the chief significance of the term "functional" is that it serves as a useful reminder of the third of Halliday's great innovative concepts.  This is the insight that every piece of text (such as, for example, a simple clause) realises several different types of meaning, often in the same element. In other words, it serves for the expression of 'representational' meaning or, to use Halliday's term, experiential meaning; logical meanings … interpersonal meanings … and … textual meanings …

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misrepresents Halliday because, as demonstrated in previous posts, Halliday makes a clear distinction between semantics and grammar; see [2].

[2] This misunderstands the chief significance of the term 'functional' in SFL theory.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49):
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. 
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is that of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On The Stratal Location Of Grammatical Systems

Fawcett (2010: 50):
On this basis, many systemic functional linguists have assumed that the networks of TRANSITIVITYMOODTHEME and so on, do (or should) represent choices in meaning, and that they therefore do (or should) constitute the level of semantics. And for at least some of us who were working in SFL in the 1970s, the corollary of this was that, when we saw Halliday's system networks as still reflecting contrasts that were formal rather than semantic (e.g., his MOOD network, which has remained virtually unchanged since the 1960s, in contrast with his TRANSITIVITY network) we revised them by 'pushing' them towards the semantics — exactly as Halliday himself had done with his networks for TRANSITIVITY during the 1960s.
However, it is not the case that all systemic linguists took this position, and it is certainly not the case that Halliday himself consistently did so, as we shall see in Sections 4.6 and 4.7.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here once again Fawcett argues for his misunderstanding of Halliday by means of the logical fallacy known as 'Argumentum ad populum':
Argumentum ad populum (appeal to widespread belief, bandwagon argument, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people) – a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because majority or many people believe it to be so.
[2] Once again, see any of the previous posts on the distinctions
  • between meaning potential (language as system) and meaning as stratum (semantics), and
  • between functional grammar (wording viewed from semantics) and semantics (meaning).
See also Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) for Halliday's semantic systems of the ideational metafunction.

[3] This is misleading because it is manifestly untrue.  As such features as 'declarative', 'interrogative' and 'imperative' demonstrate, Halliday's MOOD system, like his TRANSITIVITY system, is concerned with functional contrasts, not formal.

[4] Here Fawcett, having interpreted Halliday's MOOD system as reflecting contrasts at the level of form, nevertheless located the system at the level of meaning (semantics).

[5] This is misleading because it is manifestly untrue.  It was Fawcett and his colleagues who mistook Halliday's grammatical systems for semantic systems, not Halliday; see [1] and [2].

[6] This is misleading because it is manifestly untrue, as we shall see in the critiques of Sections 4.6 and 4.7.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday (1994) On System Networks

Fawcett (2010: 49-50):
Today, very many systemic functional linguists would take it as axiomatic that system networks such as those for TRANSITIVITY, MOOD, THEME etc. model choices between meanings, i.e., semantic features. These linguists include those who work in the framework of the Cardiff Grammar (including those in China and Japan), those working with the Nottingham Grammar (as described in Berry (1975, 1977 and 1996:8-9), those who are applying systemic functional grammar to other semiotic systems (e.g., Kress & van Leeuwen 1997, van Leeuwen 1999 and probably O'Toole 1994). Moreover, Halliday himself continues to write in a similar manner at times, e.g., in IFG:

In a functional grammar, [...] a language is interpreted as a system of meanings [my emphasis], accompanied by forms through which the meanings can be expressed (Halliday 1994:xix).
In this view of the basic architecture of language, then, the meaning potential constitutes the level of semantics.  More precisely, it is the task of the system networks to model those 'meanings' that are expressible through realisation rules at the level of form (Figure 4 in Section 3.2 of Chapter 3).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here again Fawcett argues for his misunderstanding of Halliday by means of the logical fallacy known as 'Argumentum ad populum':
Argumentum ad populum (appeal to widespread belief, bandwagon argument, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people) – a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because majority or many people believe it to be so.
[2] Again, see any of the previous posts on the distinctions
  • between meaning potential (language as system) and meaning as stratum (semantics), and
  • between functional grammar (wording viewed from semantics) and semantics (meaning).
See also Halliday & Matthiessen (1999) for Halliday's semantic systems of the ideational metafunction.

[3] Here again Fawcett misunderstands Halliday in a way the favours his own (unsupported) position; see [2].

[4] Here Fawcett misleads by omission: failing to tell the reader that this (incorrectly sourced) quote from Halliday (1994: xiv) is part of an argument in which Halliday gives reasons for the inappropriateness of the term 'syntax' in a functional approach to grammar:

[5] This clarification (more precisely) of Fawcett's own misunderstanding (see [2]) is merely a restatement of his own model (Figure 4) — itself riddled with internal inconsistencies due to his misunderstandings of the dimensions of realisation and instantiation, as previously demonstrated here and elsewhere.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Employing Two Logical Fallacies: 'Argumentum Ad Populum' And 'Appeal To Authority'

Fawcett (2010: 49):
It was passages such as the two cited immediately above that led many systemic functional linguists — including myself — to interpret Halliday as suggesting that the system networks of TRANSITIVITY, MOOD, THEME and so on should be regarded as the semantics of a language. We accepted this as a major insight, and used it as the basic assumption for a re-interpretation of the earlier system networks. I myself first expressed this position publicly in Fawcett (1973/81), writing that 
'Meaning' is concerned with the intra-linguistic level of semantics. [...] A network may therefore be regarded as a summary of a complex area of meaning potential [my emphasis] (Fawcett 1973/81:157). 
And Berry, in her classic introduction to systemic linguistics, writes that 
the terms in a system [...] are distinct meanings within a common area of meaning [my emphasis] (Berry 1975:144). 
In a similar vein Kress, in his insightful account of the development of Halliday's ideas, states that 
the freeing of system from surface structure has a consequence that systems are now made up of terms which are semantic features [my emphasis] (Kress 1976:35).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Fawcett supports his misunderstanding* of Halliday by means of the logical fallacy known as 'Argumentum ad populum':
Argumentum ad populum (appeal to widespread belief, bandwagon argument, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people) – a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because majority or many people believe it to be so.

[2] In giving authoritative weight (classic, insightful) to the opinions of these linguists, Fawcett also supports his misunderstanding* of Halliday by means of the logical fallacy known as 'Appeal to authority':
An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a proposition to the claim that the proposition is true. Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true.

* See any of the previous posts on the distinctions
  • between meaning potential (language as system) and meaning as stratum (semantics), and
  • between functional grammar (wording viewed from semantics) and semantics (meaning).

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On Instantiation

Fawcett (2010: 48-9):
Ten years later, Halliday was still writing in similar terms — but only at times, as we shall see in Section 4.6. Here, for example, is an excerpt from his "Introduction" to Readings in systemic linguistics (Halliday & Martin 1981). Notice that he distinguishes and defines the two relationships of 'instantiation' and 'realisation' in very similar terms to those used in Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of Chapter 3. (Here he characterises the relationships as "processes", because he is thinking in terms of a generative model of language.)
'Instantiation' is the process of selecting within the sets of options (the systems) that make up the meaning potential (the system). It is the process of choosing. By this step particular paths are traced through the network of paradigmatic alternatives. [...] 'Realisation' is the process of making manifest the options that have been selected. It is the process of expressing the choices made. By this step meanings are encoded in wordings [my emphasis]. (Halliday 1981:14) 
Here Halliday is characterising 'instantiation' at the level of meaning, in terms of Figure 4 in Chapter 3, but there is also, of course, as we saw in Chapter 3, a process of instantiation at the level of form.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading because it is untrue, as we shall see in the examination of Section 4.6.

[2] This is misleading because it is untrue, as was demonstrated in the examination of Sections 3.1 and 3.2 of Chapter 3.  As all the critiques of Fawcett's model (Figure 4) demonstrate — see, for example, here — Fawcett's use of 'instantiation' and 'realisation' are inconsistent with the theoretical notions.  See also [5], below.

[3] To be clear, instantiation and realisation are types of attributive and identifying relational processes, respectively; see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 144-5).

[4] This is misleading because it misrepresents Halliday in a way that favours Fawcett's argument.  In the quote, Halliday characterises the process of instantiation for any system, not just at the level of meaning.  (As explained in previous posts, Fawcett misunderstands Halliday's meaning potential — language as system — as merely the level of semantics.)  Halliday then goes on to contrast instantiation with the realisation relation between content strata: meaning (semantics) and wording (lexicogrammar).

[5] Fawcett's "instantiation" at the level of form (Figure 4) is the relation between realisation rules and syntagmatic structure.  It can be seen that, contrary to Fawcett's claim (critiqued above in [2]), this interpretation of instantiation is entirely inconsistent with Halliday's characterisation of instantiation as  'selecting within systems of options'.


Sunday, 15 April 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday (1966) In A Footnote

Fawcett (2010: 48n):
To understand fully what is at stake here, we must recognise the fact that linguists employ two main metaphors for thinking about the levels of language. In the longer established metaphor, the more abstract phenomena such as 'meanings' of various types are regarded as 'higher', and the more concrete phenomena, such as the spoken and written forms of language, are thought of as 'lower'But in the metaphor implied in the use of Hockett's terms "deep structure" and "surface structure" (as later taken over by Chomsky and others) this model is inverted. In this metaphor, the extension of the model of syntax to take account of 'semantics' involves the addition of a 'deep' or 'underlying' representation, this being seen as the 'level' within syntax that is nearest to meaning. In other words, in choosing to give "Some notes on 'deep' grammar" the title he did, Halliday was adopting the terminology of the then dominant theoretical model of language. In contrast, he had presented in "Categories" a diagram in which the relationships are horizontal, in which "context" is on the left, "form" is in the middle" and "substance" is on the right. After Halliday (1966/76), however, he quickly moved to the use of the model of language in which 'context' and 'meaning' are higher than 'form' and in which 'substance' is lower. It seems that he was influenced in this — at least in part — by the way in which the relationships between the strata of language are represented in Lamb's Stratificational Grammar (from which Halliday took the word "realisation" for its use in denoting the relationship between levels). So in Halliday (1977/78:128), for example, we find a model in which 'meaning' is above 'form' and 'phonetics' is below.


Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Fawcett misleads by contrasting 'meaning' with 'spoken and written forms of language' instead of 'form'.  In Fawcett's own model, it is meaning that is the higher level of abstraction, and form that is the "more concrete".  Spoken and written forms of language, on the other hand, are language — i.e. all strata — that vary at points along the cline of instantiation, according to the contextual feature of mode.

[2] In terms of present-day SFL theory, Fawcett here confuses the dimension of symbolic abstraction ("more abstract" vs "more concrete"), in this case: stratification, with the dimension of instantiation ("deep" vs "surface").  The "inversion" is not of the stratification hierarchy, but in the representation of the cline of instantiation, where "deep" (potential) is schematised above "surface" (instance).

[3] Here Fawcett tries to make sense of his confusion by locating potential ("deep or underlying") as a higher level of symbolic abstraction within his level of form ("the level within syntax that is nearest to meaning").  In terms of Fawcett's own model (Figure 4), "deep or underlying" at the level of form actually corresponds to his bottom-left module, the intersection of potential and form: realisation rules/statements

[4] This is misleading because it misrepresents Halliday.  Halliday (1966) is concerned with arguing for the system as the underlying form of representation ('deep grammar').  The deep vs surface distinction in this early paper is not the stratification of levels of abstraction.

[5] This is misleading because it implies that Halliday (1966) is a reworking of the stratification hierarchy in Halliday (1961).  Trivially, but unsurprisingly, the diagram in Halliday (1961) is laid out in the opposite way to Fawcett's description, as shown below:



[6] This confuses the orientation of diagrams (theoretical expression) with levels of symbolic abstraction (theoretical content).

[7] The theoretical advantage of the term 'realisation' is that it explicitly identifies the relation between strata as an identifying: intensive: symbolic between a lower Token and a higher Value.  This is a case of turning the theory back onto itself.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday's Clause Systems As Semantic Systems

Fawcett (2010: 47-8):
We come now to a second and equally important change to the theory. It has already been hinted at in Halliday's use of the terms "deep" and "underlying" in the passage cited above to describe the level of the systemic representation. But it was signposted more clearly when Halliday wrote a few pages later (1966/76:96) that "underlying grammar is 'semantically significant' grammar".  By 1970 Halliday had begun to describe the system networks of TRANSITIVITY, MOOD, THEME and so on as the meaning potential of a language, and so as being at a separate level from that of the structures that are 'predicted by', and so 'derived from', the semantic features in the system networks. For example, he wrote in one classic passage: 
A functional theory of language is a theory about meanings, not about words or constructions. [...] Where then do we find the functions differentiated in language? They are differentiated semantically, as different areas of what I call the 'meaning potential' [my emphasis]. (Halliday 1971/73b: 110) 
And he then went on to describe these "areas" as the "networks of interrelated options that define, as a whole, the resources for what the speaker wants to say", and to identify them as the networks for TRANSITIVITYMOODTHEME and so on.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, as explained in a previous post, the "change to the theory" here is not a change to "the" theory, but a change of theory: from Scale and Category Grammar to Systemic Functional Grammar.

[2] Here Fawcett again confuses the relation between potential and instance, instantiation, with the axial relation between paradigmatic system and syntagmatic structure, realisation.  Instantiation is an attributive relation, whereas realisation is an identifying relation.  As explained in previous posts, this confusion constitutes one invalidation of the architecture of his theoretical model (Figure 4).

[3] The unwarranted intrusion of the word 'semantic' here is misleading, since it misrepresents Halliday in a way that favours Fawcett's argument; see [4].

[4] As if to counter Fawcett's misunderstanding of Halliday (1971) on this point, Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49) write:
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
Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is that of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices.
In other words, Halliday models the grammar from the perspective of semantics — i.e. in terms of the meaning that the wording realises — and Fawcett misunderstands this as modelling the semantics.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On 'Form'

Fawcett (2010: 46):
As we saw in Chapter 2, Halliday takes the position in "Categories" that everything within 'grammar' is part of the same level of language, i.e., 'form' 1961/76:53). The four "categories of the theory of grammar" and the three "scales" that relate them were therefore all presented as belonging within 'grammar', and so as all being at the same level of language. 

Blogger Comments:

This is misleading in a way that suits Fawcett's later argument.  The valeur of 'form' in Fawcett (2010) and Halliday (1961) is significantly different.  For Fawcett, the level of 'form' contrasts with the level of 'meaning', as shown in his Figure 4 (p36).  For Halliday, on the other hand, the level of 'form' contrasts with the levels of 'substance' and 'context'.  Halliday (2002 [1961]: 39):
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 (see below, 1.8). 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. …
Form is in fact two related levels, grammar and lexis.
Context is in fact (like phonology) an interlevel relating form to extratextual features.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On The Development Of Systemic Theory


Fawcett (2010: 45-6):
I have already suggested that the first three changes to the "Categories" model introduced by Halliday in the late 1960s and early 1970s were revolutionary. Interestingly, however, Halliday himself writes about these momentous developments in the theory as if they were, in large measure, simply additions to it — rather than changes that might involve re-assessing the existing concepts. Thus he writes (1993:4507) that "systemic work [...] has tended to expand by moving into new spheres of activity, rather than by re-working earlier positions". The difference between expanding a theory and changing it is an important one. The term "expand" typically implies additions rather than alterations, so that the "expansion" of a theory does not necessarily require one to rethink the concepts of the earlier version. But any changes to the existing concepts in a theory should be followed by a thorough check to discover whether they lead to the need for any further changes. In a theory of language, as in language itself, tout se tient (Meillet 1937). It is certainly true that the theory has expanded greatly, in the sense that it now covers many additional aspects of language and additional languages, and that is has been used in additional areas of application. But many of the innovations — including the three to be summarised here — have had an effect that is ultimately revolutionary. And such changes do indeed demand the "re-working [of] earlier positions". It is a nice irony that Halliday should have written the words cited above in his 1993 paper "Systemic theory", because it is there that he spells out most clearly the revolutionary effect of the changes from "Categories" — as we shall see in due course. (Perhaps this is part of the general phenomenon that it is often easier for others to see the significance of a new idea than it is for the innovator.)


Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  Halliday (1993) is termed 'Systemic Theory', and the quote that Fawcett cites is concerned with theoretical developments since the inception of Systemic Theory — as the words 'systemic work' makes clear.  Halliday acknowledged significant difference between his earlier model, 'Scale–and–Category Grammar', and his later model, 'Systemic Grammar', by the change of name.

[2] Halliday uses 'expand' as a technical term that subsumes three subtypes:
  • elaboration (exposition vs exemplification vs clarification)
  • extension (addition vs variation vs alternation)
  • enhancement (temporal, spatial, manner, causal, conditional).

[3] Here Fawcett identifies precisely what his alterations of Halliday's theory demand, and which he himself has not done, while implying that Halliday has failed in this regard.

[4] These "revolutionary innovations" were introduced at the beginning of Systemic Theory, not in the course of its development; see [1].

[5] The "earlier positions" that Halliday "reworked" are those of 'Scale–and–Category Grammar', and the outcome of that reworking is the new theory 'Systemic Grammar'; see [1].

[6] This might have alerted a more careful reader that he had misunderstood the quote from Halliday (1993).

[7] Halliday did see the significance, and changed the name of his theory to reflect this, and outlined the significant changes in his retrospective (Halliday 1993) that Fawcett quotes here.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On Stratification

Fawcett (2010: 45):
Then in the second half of the chapter I shall describe how, in the 1970s, Halliday tentatively explored two contrasting approaches to meaning — one of which adds a second level of meaning — and how in the 1990s he finally decided in favour of what we may call the 'two-level model of meaning'. Although I shall not present here the full set of arguments against his decision (which deserve a paper or even a book of their own) I shall show why, even if you accept Halliday's position, it does not seriously affect my claim that the model of language presented in Figure 4 of Chapter 3 is common to all systemic functional grammars

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading on two counts.  On the one hand, Halliday has never proposed two levels of meaning in any of his models, and on the other hand, the two levels of content that Halliday does propose, meaning and wording, are labelled as such as early as Halliday & Hasan (1976: 5):
[2] As shown in numerous previous posts, the model of language presented in Figure 4 of Chapter 3 cannot be "common" to any systemic functional grammars, not least because of its serious internal inconsistencies.  Moreover, Fawcett's model conceives of human language as a Fordian production line in which operations are performed in separate modules, producing outputs — largely because it is designed, instead, for the purpose of text generation by computers.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Place Of Syntax In Fawcett's Model

Fawcett (2010: 43, 43n):
We can summarise this chapter so far by saying that, in terms of Figure 4, the place of syntax in a model of language is in the syntagmatic relations at the level of form. At various points in the rest of this book, therefore, we shall find ourselves thinking in terms of either (1) instances of syntax or (2) the syntax potential that specifies those outputs from the grammar.*
* The other parts of the 'form potential' are the 'lexis potential', the 'intonation potential' and the 'punctuation potential'.

Blogger Comments:

This again refers to Figure 4:



[1] To be clear, since it is concerned with syntagmatic relations only, and not paradigmatic relations, the place of syntax in Fawcett's model of language is on the syntagmatic axis.

[2] As Figure 4 shows, Fawcett regards an instance of syntax as a structure, and syntax potential as realisation statements.  That is, on this model, structures are instances of realisation statements.  Moreover, instances are specified by realisation rules.

[3] To be clear, in SFL theory, Fawcett's 'lexis potential' is modelled as the most delicate systems on the stratum of lexicogrammar; Fawcett's 'intonation potential' is modelled as systems at the rank of tone group on the stratum of phonology; and Fawcett's 'punctuation potential' would be modelled as systems on the stratum of graphology.  In SFL theory, lexicogrammar and phonology/graphology are distinguished as different levels of symbolic abstraction (strata), with lexicogrammar as a level of content, and phonology/graphology as (parallel) levels of expression.  In Fawcett's model, then, content and expression are modelled as being of the same level of symbolic abstraction.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Fawcett's Two Aspects Of Syntagmatic Relations

Fawcett (2010: 43):
This book, then, focuses on syntagmatic relations. There are in fact two aspects to syntagmatic relations in language: part-whole relations and sequential relations. The more fundamental concept is that of part-whole relations, and while syntagmatic relations are usually thought of in terms of the level of form, part-whole relations are found at both the level of semantics and at the level of form. But it is the level of form that we shall focus on here, i.e., as shown in Figure 4 in Section 3.2.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, in SFL theory (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 60, 83) there is an important distinction between:
  • a structure: a configuration of functions, such as Senser ^ Process ^ Phenomenon
and  
  • a syntagm: a sequences of classes (of form), such as nominal group ^ verbal group ^ nominal group.

[2] To be clear, in SFL theory, part-whole relations are organised as a rank scale.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 21):
Structure (syntagmatic order) … is the compositional aspect of language, referred to in linguistic terminology as ‘constituency’. The ordering principle, as defined in systemic theory, is that of rank: compositional layers, rather few in number, organised by the relationship of ‘is a part of’.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Misrepresenting SFL Theory On Paradigmatic Relations

Fawcett (2010: 43n):
If you are not a systemic functional linguist, you may be asking at this point: "Why do systemic functional linguists give priority to paradigmatic relations between meanings rather than forms?" It is a good question, and it may be helpful to say briefly what my answer is. Ultimately, it is because generating a text involves making choices, and it is clearly the contrasts between alternative meanings between which we choose — rather than the contrasts between the forms. For example, if two outputs from the grammar display a contrast in form, as between that student and those students, the importance of the contrast is that the two forms express a contrast in meaning which the Performer wishes to communicate to the Addressee. In other words, the difference between 'singular' and 'plural' is ultimately a difference of meaning rather than form. (But there is, of course, no meaning without form.)

Blogger Comments:

This is misleading.  SFL theory gives priority to view from above, from meaning (semantics), in modelling the grammar (wording), but it nevertheless distinguishes between paradigmatic relations at the level of meaning (semantics) and paradigmatic relations at the level of wording (lexicogrammar).  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.  Giving priority to the view ‘from above’ means that the organising principle adopted is that of system: the grammar is seen as a network of interrelated meaningful choices. In other words, the dominant axis is the paradigmatic one: the fundamental components of the grammar are sets of mutually defining contrastive features (for an early statement, see Halliday, 1966a). Explaining something consists not in stating how it is structured but in showing how it is related to other things: its pattern of systemic relationships, or agnateness …
On the other hand, SFL theory includes form in the paradigmatic relations at the level of wording (lexicogrammar) in the guise of the rank scale — clause, group/phrase, word, morpheme — each of which provides the entry condition for systems of paradigmatic relations between functions.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Misrepresenting Halliday On Form [2]

Fawcett (2010: 42-3):
The second key point is that, while it is incontestable that there are relations of contrast at the level of form, and while Halliday's concept of 'system' in "Categories" was, like that of Firth, a system of contrasts at the level of form, in a modern SF grammar the system networks model choices between meanings. And it is these that are seen as the generative base of the grammar. The result is that the purely formal contrasts in a language play no role in how the grammar operates in the generation of a sentence. … Thus choice between meanings is the key concept in a systemic functional grammar. However, the focus of this book is on the level of form, so I shall have very little more to say about the system networks.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  In Categories, Halliday (2006 [1961]: 39) uses 'form' in a different sense to that used by Fawcett:
The form is the organisation of the substance into meaningful events 
[2] This is misleading.  In "a modern Systemic Functional grammar", system networks model choices on all linguistic strata: meaning (semantics), wording (lexicogrammar) and sounding (phonology).  The lexicogrammatical networks model functional wording choices at each of the levels of form on the rank scale.  In the absence of grammatical metaphor, those functional choices at the level of wording agree (are congruent) with functional choices at the level of meaning.

[3] In "a modern Systemic Functional grammar", since form realises function, contrasts in form can realise significant contrasts in function, most notably in instances of grammatical metaphor, where what would congruently be realised by a clause is instead realised incongruently as a nominal group.  A major shortcoming of the Cardiff Grammar is its inability to systematically account for grammatical metaphor.

[4] To be clear, the focus of this book on Systemic Functional grammar is on neither system nor function.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

What Fawcett Understands By 'Paradigmatic Relations'

Fawcett (2010: 42):
Paradigmatic relations are relations of contrast. There are two key points that must be made about them. Firstly, paradigmatic relations are unlike syntagmatic relations in that they exist only in the potential and never in an instance.  From the viewpoint of the text analyst, they express a contrast between (1) the meaning (and so the form) that was chosen for use in the text and (2) the one or more meanings (and so forms) that might have been chosen (but were not). In other words, paradigmatic relations exist only in the language that is used to produce a text-sentence — and not in the sentence itself.

Blogger Comments:

This continues Fawcett's confusion of the realisation relation between the paradigmatic axis (system) and the syntagmatic axis (structure) with the instantiation relation between potential and instance.  As previously explained, in Fawcett's model, schematised as Figure 4, paradigmatic system is equated with (meaning level) potential, and syntagmatic structure is equated with (form level) instance.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Fawcett On The Interplay Of Realisation And Instantiation In A Systemic Functional Grammar

Fawcett (2010: 41-2):
Let us return to Figure 4. Its significance is that it brings together, in a single diagram, two key pairs of concepts that correspond, broadly speaking, to two pairs of Saussurean concepts: meaning and form, and potential and instance. In a systemic functional grammar, meaning and form are related by the general relationship of realisation but, as we have seen, this relationship does not operate directly. Instead, it operates via the concept of instantiation. Instantiation occurs first at the level of 'meaning, when a traversal of the system network generates a selection expression of features, i.e. what Halliday has called an 'act of meaning' (Halliday 1993:4505). Then the realisation rules that specify the 'form potential' come into play and act upon the selection expression to realise it, and the final output from the grammar is the generation of a second 'instance', i.e., one unit that adds a layer of structure to the 'tree' representation of a text-sentence that is being built. 
Taken together, these concepts model the basic components of a systemic functional grammar, so that Figure 4 represents, at a fairly high level of abstraction, the main components of the model of language within which the alternative current theories of syntax in SFL can be set.

Blogger Comments:

This continues the discussion of Figure 4:

[1] This is misleading.  In a systemic functional grammar, stratal realisation doesn't "operate" and it doesn't do so "via the concept of instantiation"; this is Fawcett's misunderstanding only.  In a systemic functional grammar, realisation is an identifying relation between two levels of symbolic abstraction.  The notion of realisation "operating" derives from Fawcett's misunderstanding of the dimensions of SFL theory as interacting components, and the orientation of Fawcett's model to text generation by computer, rather than to human language itself.

Also in a systemic functional grammar, stratal realisation and instantiation are distinct dimensions, and, in terms of the theoretical architecture, form a matrix like the following:


[2] This is misleading.  This claim has not been supported by reasoned argument, merely asserted — and done so on the basis of theoretical misunderstandings.

[3] The terms 'first' and 'then' are misleading.  In a systemic functional grammar, there is no sequencing relation between two levels of symbolic abstraction.  The identifying relation is intensive, not circumstantial (temporal).  This again derives from Fawcett's misunderstanding of the dimensions of SFL theory as interacting components, and the orientation of Fawcett's model to text generation by computer, rather than to human language itself.

[4] This is misleading.  In a systemic functional grammar, realisation statements are located at the same level of symbolic abstraction as the network of features to be realised, not at a lower level.  Problematically, in Fawcett's model, a system network is realised by realisation statements.

[5] This is misleading.  In a systemic functional grammar, realisation statements apply to potential, not instances; the process of instantiation includes the activation of realisation statements.  Problematically, in Fawcett's model, a structure is an instance of realisation statements.  Problematically, in Fawcett's model, realisation statements specify an instance, rather than a realisation.  Problematically, in Fawcett's model, the realisation relation between paradigmatic axis (system) and the syntagmatic axis (structure) is confused with the instantiation relation between potential and instance.

[6] Given the theoretical (and logical) inconsistencies outlined above, it is very misleading to claim that Figure 4 genuinely represents a systemic functional grammatical model of language.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

A General Model That Applies To All Systemic Functional Grammars

Fawcett (2010: 41):
At this point I must make it clear that Halliday sometimes writes in a way that implies a substantial change to the model represented in Figure 4, and the effects of this will be explored in Sections 4.6 and 4.7 of Chapter 4. I shall nonetheless argue there that Figure 4 does indeed represent a general model that applies to all systemic functional grammars.

Blogger Comments:

This continues the discussion of Figure 4:



[1] This is misleading.  The model represented in Figure 4 is entirely inconsistent with Halliday's model, as demonstrated in previous posts.

[2] This cannot be true, since the model represented in Figure 4 is internally inconsistent across both dimensions, stratification and instantiation, as demonstrated in previous posts, such as On 'The Main Components Of A Systemic Functional Grammar'.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Prototypical Instance At The Level Of Form

Fawcett (2010: 41):
The prototypical instance at the level of form is a 'sentence' — and a sentence frequently consists of a single clause, e.g., I've been discussing that new student with Peter. Since the grammar is part of a fuller model for the generation of texts, we may also refer to the output as a text-sentence, and this has the value of reminding us that sentences do not occur singly, as formal linguists sometimes appear to assume, but within longer texts in which they themselves function as elements. (Note, however, that we can also treat a group of words such as that new student as an instance, exactly as is done in the little grammar in Appendix A.)

Blogger Comments:

Here Fawcett confuses the theoretical categories of 'instance' and 'unit'.  In SFL theory, any unit can be construed in terms of both potential and instance, and in terms of both system (paradigmatic axis) and structure (syntagmatic axis).

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Generation Of Instances Of Form

Fawcett (2010: 41):
In a fuller grammar the first unit to be generated would be a clause, and then one or more realisation rules would specify re-entry to the system network of meaning potential (as shown by the loop-back arrow on the left side of Figure 4), in order to generate one or more nominal groups (or even an embedded clause) to fill the relevant elements of the clause (as described in Fawcett, Tucker & Lin 1993). The 'tree structures' in the bottom right box in Figure 4 are labelled sufficiently richly to express the various functions that each element serves, and they are, it will be clear, the instances at the level of form.

Blogger Comments:

This continues the discussion of Figure 4:



[1] By definition, a realisation rule specifies a realisation (a lower level of symbolic abstraction), and so, not a re-entry to a system network at a higher level of abstraction (meaning) than form.

[2] The claim that 'tree structures are instances at the level of form' is merely a bare assertion, since no supporting argument is provided.  As Figure 4 illustrates, Fawcett incoherently regards tree structures as instances of realisation rules.  As the term 'realisation rule' makes plain, the relation between the rule and what it specifies is realisation, not instantiation.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

The Rôle Of Fawcett's Realisation Rules

Fawcett (2010: 41):
In brief, we can say that the role of the realisation rules is to convert the selection expression of semantic features that is generated on a traversal of the network into a layer of the tree diagram representation of the sentence that is being built up. This concept is illustrated in Figure 2 of Appendix A, which has the potential to generate just eighteen different nominal groups. 

Blogger Comments:

[1] This blurs the theoretical distinction between the process of instantiation (the selection of features and the activation of realisation statements) during logogenesis ('the sentence that is being built up') with the realisation relation between the paradigmatic axis ('features') and the syntagmatic axis ('tree diagram').

[2] The illustration of the concept in Figure 2 of Appendix A is as follows:



It can be seen that this largely presents realisation rules as acting on individual features, rather than selection expressions, contrary to Fawcett's claims above, and that individual semantic features include the meanings of individual lexical items.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

What Fawcett Means By The Instantiation Of Form

 Fawcett (2010: 40-1):
The key point is that, just as it is the activation of parts of the system network that specifies the output at the level of meaning (i.e., the selection expression), it is the activation of some of the realisation rules that specify the structural outputs from the grammar. It is the realisation rules — together with the 'potential structures', a concept that we shall meet in Section 9.[2].2 of Chapter 9 — that specify the structures, and that therefore constitute the 'form potential' in the grammar.

Blogger Comments:

This continues the discussion of Figure 4 (p36):


As even the term 'realisation rule' itself discloses, this misconstrues a realisation relation as an instantiation relation between potential and instance.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Reasons Why Fawcett Prefers The Term 'Realisation Rule'

Fawcett (2010: 40n):
At various points in his writings, Halliday contrasts the systemic functional view of 'language as a resource' with the Chomskyan view of 'language as a set of rules'. Hence his strong preference for the term "realisation statement" over "realisation rule". Like many other systemic functional linguists, however, I take the view that, in defining the 'resource', we necessarily use a type of 'rule'. Thus a system network is itself a set of 'rules' about what features may be chosen under what conditions. This was first demonstrated in a fully explicit manner in the appendices to Hudson (1976), and similar 'rules' are found in the representation of the system network in a computer implementation in Prolog (as described in Fawcett, Tucker & Lin 1993). And realisation statements are even more obviously a type of 'rule'. In other words, while a systemic functional grammar does not have 'phrase structure rules' and 'transformational rules', it does have other types of rule. Here, then, we shall treat the terms "realisation rule" and "realisation statement" as interchangeable.

Blogger Comment:

[1]  The word 'rule' is problematic because encompasses two distinct types of modality: modulation  (obligation) and modalisation (usuality/probability).  As modulation, it also encompasses two distinct types of speech function: command and (modulated) statement; and the latter nullifies the distinction between 'rule' and 'statement'.

The term 'realisation statement', on the other hand, has the advantage of both specifying statement, rather than command, and encompassing probability (modalisation) as a property of system potential.

[2] This is an instance of the logical fallacy known as Argumentum Ad Populum, since it invokes the beliefs of (unspecified) others as support for the proposition.

[3] On the one hand, this is a bare assertion, unsupported by reasoned argument: the logical fallacy known as Ipse Dixit.  On the other hand, it is demonstrably false, since the notion of 'defining' does not entail the notion 'rule'.

[4] The use of thus here is misleading, since it gives the false impression that the statement that it begins follows logically from the preceding unsupported bare assertion.

[5] Since this is a bare assertion, unsupported by reasoned argument, the reference to Hudson (1976) constitutes an instance of the logical fallacy known as Appeal To Authority (Argumentum Ad Verecundum).

To be clear, a system network is organised on the basis of logical relations, such as:
  • elaboration (delicacy)
  • extension: alternation (disjunct options)
  • extension: addition (conjunct options)
  • enhancement: condition (entry conditions)
and to "read out" a traversal of a network is to produce statements of the type:
if X, then either Y or Z, and if both Z and A, then B or C.
For strict sense in which statements are a type of rule, see [1] above.

[6] Here Fawcett cites his own work as evidence in support of his own view.  This might be interpreted as the logical fallacies known as Appeal To Accomplishment and, on the basis of this critique, False Authority.

[7] This is another bare assertion, unsupported by reasoned argument.  For the strict sense in which realisation statements are a type of rule, see [1] above.

[8] On the one hand, this is another bare assertion, unsupported by reasoned argument.  On the other hand, it makes use of the logical fallacy known as Argument From Repetition (Argumentum Ad Nauseam).

[9] Here Fawcett, having purported to argue for 'rule' over 'statement', concludes by regarding the alternatives as interchangeable.