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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1961)

Fawcett (2010: 24):
Reading "Categories" is demanding work, and the reader's task is not eased by the fact that only rarely does Halliday illustrate the abstract concepts that he is presenting with examples. Ironically, by far the fullest exemplification of the concepts comes in the 'grammar' of meals (viewed as another social construct) that is presented in Section 9! There are occasional indications as to what the elements of the units of the clause in English would be like (e.g., in Section 4.3), but there is no attempt to provide a full set of descriptive categories for any aspect of the grammar of English or any other language, other than the list of units on the 'rank scale' of English. For example, there is no indication of what Halliday considered at the time to be the full set of classes of group.  
Perhaps the most surprising omission is that there is no visual representation of the full structure of a clause-length text that has been analysed in terms of the categories proposed in this key paper. One direct result of this is that there is no indication as to how the various units in a the description of a clause are to be related to each other in an integrated representation of structure.

Blogger Comments:

This series of negative judgements, complaining of the absence of structural representations in Halliday (1961), is misleading because it studiously ignores the explicitly stated purpose of 'Categories of the theory of grammar'.  Halliday (2002 [1961]: 37-8):
My purpose in writing this paper is to suggest what seem to me to be the fundamental categories of that part of General Linguistic theory which is concerned with how language works at the level of grammar, with brief reference to the relations between grammar and lexis and between grammar and phonology. … 
No excuse is needed, I think, for a discussion of General Linguistic theory. While what has made linguistics fashionable has been, as with other subjects, the discovery that it has applications, these applications rest on many years of work by people who were simply seekers after knowledge. It would not help the subject if the success of these applications led us into thinking that the theoretical problems were solved and the basic issues closed.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Misconstruing Functional Grammar As Semantics

Fawcett (2010: 23):
While Halliday continues to use the derived concept of 'secondary structures' in IFG (as we shall see in Section 10.3.4 of Chapter 10), he took the innovatory step in "Categories" of interpreting 'secondary classes' as 'systems' (1961/76:67) — and so of relating the two paradigmatic concepts of 'class' and 'system' on the scale of delicacy. Thus, the elevation of the concept of 'system' to the level of 'meaning' (which we shall discuss in Section 4.3 of Chapter 4) also implies the elevation of the concept of 'class'.

 Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  What Fawcett labels 'secondary structures' turn out (in his Chapter 10) to be three distinct phenomena mistaken for one:
  • univariate logical versus multivariate experiential structure of the nominal group,
  • interpersonal structure of the clause: Mood + Residue versus Subject + Finite + Predicator + Adjunct,
  • element of textual structure of the clause: Theme versus textual/interpersonal/experiential subtypes versus further subtypes of each.
The first involves two complementary metafunctional perspectives on the nominal group, the second involves the two layers of the interpersonal structure of the clause, and the third involves the elaboration of subtypes of the Theme of a clause.

[2] This is confused.  Class and system are not related on the scale of delicacy.  The scale of delicacy is a dimension of system.

[3] The term 'elevation' is misleading here, and is the source of the false inference.  In Section 4.3, Fawcett misinterprets Halliday's clause systems of TRANSITIVITY, MOOD and THEME as semantic instead of lexicogrammatical.  This is because Fawcett confuses semantics with a view of the grammar from the perspective of semantics.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 49) clarify:
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.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Misunderstanding Lexicogrammatical Delicacy

Fawcett (2010: 23n):
7. In creating and interpeting [sic] system networks, the concept of 'dependency' is in fact more fundamental than 'delicacy', as I have shown in Fawcett (1988b). It is quite widely assumed that systems that are realised in lexis are inherently more 'delicate' than systems that are realised in syntax, and that syntactically-realised systems are therefore never dependent on lexically-realised systems. But see Fawcett (1996) for a demonstration that this assumption is wrong in relation to certain classes of lexical verb, and Tucker (1998) for a similar demonstration in relation to certain adjectives and manner adverbs.

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, delicacy is a major organising principle of system networks.  It is the dimension from the most general choices to the most specific.  In terms of the fractal types (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999) that feature throughout the theory at various scales, delicacy is the expansion subtype elaboration.

In SFL theory, dependency is the hypotactic relation between units in unit complexes, as between clauses in a clause complex.  The closest relation to 'dependency' in the architecture of system networks is the conditional relation between systems, as specified by the entry conditions to systems.  In terms of the fractal types, condition falls within the expansion subtype enhancement.

[2] In SFL theory, the traditional notion of 'syntax' can be seen in the syntagms of forms that realise grammatical function structures, and lexis is part of a unified lexicogrammar.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 198-9):
… we can differentiate both processes and participants into finer and finer subcategories, until we reach a degree of differentiation that is associated with the choice of words (lexical items). Note that it is not (usually) the lexical items themselves that figure as terms of the systems in the network. Rather, the systems are systems of features, and the lexical items come in as the synthetic realisation of particular feature combinations. Thus lexis (vocabulary) is part of a unified lexicogrammar; there is no need to postulate a separate “lexicon” as a pre-existing entity on which the grammar is made to operate.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1961) On The Rank Scale

Fawcett (2010: 21):
Halliday then points out that "the theory allows for downward 'rank shift' : the transfer of a [...] given unit to a lower rank" [i.e., it allows a unit such as a clause to occur at an element where, in the unmarked case, a lower unit such as a group or a word would occur].  Moreover the theory "does not allow for upward 'rank shift'", i.e., a word cannot function directly as an element of a clause. The claim that elements of a clause must be filled by groups rather than by words (which Halliday expresses as "no upward rank shift") has attracted particularly strong criticism, both from outside SFL (e.g., Matthews 1966) and from within it (e.g., Hudson 1971 and Fawcett 1973/81).

Blogger Comments:

This is misleading.   Excluding (downward) rank-shift, structural elements of a higher rank are realised by units of the rank below — elements of a clause by groups and phrases, and elements of groups and phrases by words.

An element of clause structure, such as Subject, may be realised by a nominal group with only one structural element, Thing, realised by one word, as in the clause Cretans are liars.

The reason for distinguishing the group Cretans from the word Cretans is that each unit affords different systemic potential.  For example, the group Cretans can be replaced by another group, such as the richest corporate executives, whereas the word Cretans can only be replaced by another word, such as politicians.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1993)

Fawcett (2010: 12):
Is it necessary, you may ask, to read all of Part 1, in order to understand the presentation of the theory in Part 2? The answer is that, strictly speaking, it is not. However, it is in Part 1 — and in particular in Chapter 7 — that I explain why the theory presented in Part 2 is needed.
But there is a further reason to read Part 1. It is that Halliday describes Systemic Functional Linguistics as a theory of language that has remained essentially unchanged in its lexicogrammatical 'core' over the last forty years, with the developments in the theory coming through "expansion" rather than change (e.g., 1993:4507). However, Chapters 3 to 7 of Part 1 demonstrate clearly that he has in fact introduced a whole series of changes between the sixties and today. Thus the fact that I am proposing certain further changes to the theory in Part 2 is not so revolutionary as it might at first appear. This further stage in the evolution of the theory is necessary, I believe, in order to enable it to meet the demands that will be made on Systemic Functional Linguistics in the 2000s.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is misleading.  What Halliday (1993: 275*) actually wrote, after describing the origins, basic concepts and the development of SFL theory, is as follows:
A feature of systemic work is that it has tended to expand by moving into new spheres of activity, rather than by reworking earlier positions.
That is, Halliday contrasts developments in the theory with the expansion of its applications to new fields.  The reason this trivial point is worth clarifying is that Fawcett's claim constitutes another strategic misrepresentation, rather than an accidental misunderstanding.

[2] It will be seen that creating theoretical consistencies — which, as previously demonstrated, Fawcett's proposals would do —will not improve the functionality of any theory.

* Halliday (1993) can be viewed online here.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Misrepresenting IFG (Halliday 1994)

Fawcett (2010: 10):
But it is the analysis of texts in IFG, of course, that constitutes the major evidence as to how Halliday sees the structure of what we shall later call 'instances of syntax'. And in evaluating these representations we shall find — contrary to what you might expect — that they raise serious theoretical problems. Moreover, in the course of Chapter 7 it becomes clear that, even if you feel completely happy about the representations of structure in IFG, Halliday's model additionally needs an integrating syntax of the sort proposed here in Part 2.

Blogger Comments:

[1] In SFL theory, there is an important distinction between function structure and formal syntagm (syntax).

[2] It will be seen in the examination of this later discussion that Fawcett confuses the theoretical dimension of instantiation with the theoretical dimension of delicacy.

[3] It will be seen in the examination of this later discussion that the function structures do not raise serious theoretical problems.  For example, Fawcett will present the double layering of interpersonal clause structure as a theoretical problem.

[4] Fawcett's 'integrating syntax' depends on an incompatible theoretical architecture (semantics as system, grammar as formal syntagm), and so cannot be included in the SFL model without sacrificing theoretical consistency.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1961, 1993, 1994)

Fawcett (2010: 10):
Interestingly, however, neither Halliday nor any of his close colleagues has made a detailed statement about a modern theory of SF syntax that can be compared with that in "Categories".  The best summary of the "basic concepts" of the theory as Halliday sees them today is in his paper "Systemic theory" (1993), and this is summarised in Chapter 5. A second obvious source of insights is the major description of English that he provides in IFG, and this is examined in Chapter 7. Surprisingly, there are considerable differences between the theoretical concepts presented in these two works by Halliday, both of which were published in the early 1990s, and this clearly requires comment and explanation.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is yet another negative appraisal (judgement) that is entirely without foundation.  Halliday (1961) set out the categories and dimensions of a theory of language, not syntax, and developed a theory from that framework.  In the course of developing what became known as Systemic Functional Grammar, syntax — the syntagmatic arrangement of form — was backgrounded in favour of function, in line with the requirements of a functional, rather than formal, theory.  Form is modelled in SFG as a rank scale of clause, phrase/group, word and morpheme, and a function structure at a higher rank is realised by a syntagm of forms at the rank below.  This was all set out in the first edition of IFG (Halliday 1985).

[2] This is manifestly untrue, and will be demonstrated to be so in the critique of Chapter 7.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday's 1961 Grammar As Syntax

Fawcett (2010: 10):
We shall begin, in Chapter 2, with a summary of Halliday's seminal paper "Categories of the theory of grammar" (1961/76) — which is itself essentially a theory of syntax. After outlining Halliday's overall model of language as it was in 1961, I shall summarise the seven main concepts in what was at that time an exciting new theory of syntax (or "grammar", as Halliday would term it). However, during the sixties Halliday developed what was essentially a theory of syntax into the rich theory of language as a whole that is known today as Systemic Functional Grammar.

Blogger Comments:

[1] As previously demonstrated, and as the title suggests, the theory of grammar in Halliday (1961) goes well beyond mere syntax.  The reason this repeated misrepresentation is worth noting again is that it strategically serves Fawcett's position.

[2] Trivially, to be clear, the theory of language is Systemic Functional Linguistics, whereas Systemic Functional Grammar is the theory of grammar.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Fawcett's Different "Ground Rules"

Fawcett (2010: 9):
It is important to emphasise that the 'ground rules' that guide my work on syntax differ from Halliday's in one important way. This is that the aim is to show only the minimal necessary structure at the level of form, and to provide for the explicit representation of meanings — and so also the representation of the broad types of meaning corresponding to Halliday's 'metafunctions' — at a second level of representation, i.e., at the 'systemic-semantic' level of representation.

Blogger Comments:

These different "ground rules", in fact, represent the proposal for a significantly different architecture for SFL theory.  Where SFL involves system–structure relations (so-called "cycles") on both strata of the content plane, semantics and lexicogrammar, Fawcett's proposal is to have just one system–structure relation for the content plane, with system (paradigmatic axis) as the semantic stratum, and structure (syntagmatic axis) as the lexicogrammatical stratum.

That is, the Cardiff model of grammatical structure depends on a different theoretical architecture. This raises the stakes considerably, since adopting the Cardiff model of syntax, as a better alternative, entails adopting the Cardiff theoretical architecture, as a better alternative, as well as all its ramifications for the rest of the theory.

As already noted, the most immediate disadvantage of this architecture is its inability to model grammatical metaphor systematically — as a junctional construct involving the meanings of both the incongruent and congruent grammatical realisations.

If this significantly different model is to replace 'the standard model', it must be better, and it must be shown to be so.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Misjudging Halliday And Misrepresenting The Orientation Of SFL

Fawcett (2010: 8-9):
What we need, clearly, is a recent statement by Halliday in which he summarises his current theory of language, in the way that "Categories" did for Scale and Category Grammar. Fortunately, his contribution on "Systemic Theory" to the Encyclopaedia of Languages and Linguistics (Asher 1993) goes a long way to providing this, and it can be usefully supplemented by his "On grammar and grammatics" (1996). However, the orientation of "Systemic theory" is 'theoretical-generative' rather than 'text-descriptive'and the perhaps surprising result is that it has rather little to say about the syntactic structure of texts. We shall therefore also need to make use of Halliday's major recent descriptive work, An Introduction to Functional Grammar, and this provides, as we shall see, a significantly different picture of language. I shall also draw occasionally on Matthiessen (1995), a work that complements IFG invaluably by providing the system networks that are largely missing from that work, and which also sometimes provide a hint of an interestingly different perspective on the Sydney Grammar. 
However, for reasons which will be explained at the relevant points, the fact is that Halliday has nowhere made a comprehensive statement as to the nature of syntax in a modern SF grammar that is comparable in its scope with that in "Categories" — and nor has Matthiessen or any other exponent of the Sydney Grammar. One would expect that the enormous changes made to the model as it was developed from the Scale and Category Grammar of the 1960s into the Systemic Functional Grammar of the 1990s would have led to changes in the representation of structure at the level of form. And indeed they have, as Chapter 7 will clearly demonstrate. But Halliday has provided only the most general of justifications for the immense changes that he has made in the way that formal structure is represented in his model (e.g., in Chapters 1 and 2 of IFG).  The only reasonably full statement by a systemic functional grammarian whose purpose is to reflect the major changes in the theory referred to above has been that of Fawcett (1974-6/81) — this being probably best known through the summary provided in Butler (1985:94-102).

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Fawcett provides four negative judgements criticising Halliday's behaviour, juxtaposed with a positive judgement admiring his own behaviour:

What we need, clearly, is a recent statement by Halliday in which he summarises his current theory of language
judgement: normality
and the perhaps surprising result is that it has rather little to say about the syntactic structure of texts
judgement: normality
the fact is that Halliday has nowhere made a comprehensive statement as to the nature of syntax in a modern SF grammar 
judgement: normality
But Halliday has provided only the most general of justifications for the immense changes that he has made in the way that formal structure is represented in his model 
judgement: normality
The only reasonably full statement by a systemic functional grammarian whose purpose is to reflect the major changes in the theory referred to above has been that of Fawcett (1974-6/81)
judgement: normality

However, since the criticisms are entirely unjustified, this is very misleading. As previously pointed out, Halliday has
  • been explicit about the place of formal syntagms in systemic functional grammar, 
  • explained why a functional grammar views grammar 'from above', and
  • explained why the metafunctions are included in the model of grammatical structure.

[2] This misrepresents the orientation of SFL.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 56, 57):
Systemic functional theory also differs from many other functional theories in its emphasis on comprehensive, text-based descriptions — descriptions that can be used in text analysis; …
The description of English grammar presented here is not designed as a reference grammar. However, unlike the recent reference grammars — or all previous ones for that matter, this description has been designed as one that can be used in text analysis — a task that imposes quite stringent demands on the description.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Misrepresenting Theoretical Differences Within SFL

Fawcett (2010: 6):
Within the broad family of systemic functional theories of language, there are what we may term (1) the "Sydney Grammar" (with two 'sub-dialects' associated with Hasan and Martin concerning differences in their models relating to the higher levels of '(discourse) semantics', 'register' and 'genre'), (2) the "Cardiff Grammar", (3) the "Nottingham Grammar", (4) the "Leuven Grammar", and perhaps others. Halliday has made the interesting suggestion that we should think of these alternative versions of SFL as being related to each other in the way that the dialects and registers of a language are.7
7. It was Michael Halliday who first suggested the metaphor of 'the Cardiff dialect', 'the Nottingham dialect' etc, during the International Systemic Functional Congress held in Beijing in 1995. However, he has also suggested the metaphor of 'register variation' — originally for thinking about the differences between Martin's and Hasan's different approaches to genre and register. He calls the difference between those two models a "kind of variation in 'metaregister'", saying that this is "one of the ways in which systemic theory appears as a metaphor for language itself' (Halliday 1993:4507). In some ways the concept of 'register variation' provides a more insightful metaphor than that of 'dialectal variation'.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Presenting the Cardiff Grammar as a "dialect" or "register" of SFL theory is inconsistent with Fawcett's already stated intentions.  Fawcett (2010: xviii, xxi) presents his "dialect" or "register" as a replacement for Halliday's "dialect" or "register":
This book makes clear proposals for a (partly) new theory of syntax, and in particular for the replacement of the method of representing structure that is used in Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar (1994) by a simpler method.  … 
In what I have said so far, I have been writing as if the theory of syntax to be presented here is an alternative to Halliday's approach to structure. And this is indeed what it is, in that the method of representing the syntax of a text-sentence to be described here is ultimately an alternative to his 'multiple structure' method rather than a complement to it.
[2] This misrepresents the difference between Hasan's and Martin's models.  Hasan's work is largely self-consistent and consistent with the architecture of SFL theory, whereas Martin's work is neither self-consistent nor consistent with the architecture of SFL theory — as demonstrated at length and in detail here.  The notion of discourse semantics, register and genre as 'higher levels' is Martin's theoretical misunderstanding alone.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Promising An Argument Against Metafunctional Clause Structures

Fawcett (2010: 4):
We shall find that there are a number of theoretical problems with IFG which need to be addressed if we are to develop an adequate theory of syntax for a modern SF grammar. Part 1 of the present book therefore also functions as a friendly critique of that work from within a framework of shared basic assumptions. However, the argument that I shall present here concludes with a demonstration that the representations in IFG cannot serve as the 'final' representation at the level of form, and that this fact requires us to reconsider the theoretical status of the 'multiple structure' representations in IFG itself — and so in the many derived works.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This again repeats the still undemonstrated claim that the metafunctional clause structures of SFL theory are 'intermediate', and need to be integrated into a single formal syntactic structure, which is thus another instance of the logical fallacy known as proof by (repeated) assertion.  The reason for noting all these repetitions is the interpersonal function they serve in the discourse, which will become clear when the promised "demonstration" finally appears.

[2] It is the lack of 'shared basic assumptions' that makes Fawcett's work inconsistent with SFL theory, as already demonstrated for the notions of structure and syntax.

[3] To be clear, the metafunctions are, perhaps, the major innovation to Halliday's theorising since first setting out his 'categories for a theory of grammar' in 1961, and they are integral to the theory.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 84):
… these three kinds of meaning run throughout the whole of language, and in a fundamental respect they determine the way language has evolved.  They are referred to in systemic accounts of grammar as metafunctions, and the concept of ‘metafunction’ is one of the basic concepts around which the theory is constructed.
A major advantage of theorising metafunctional structures on the stratum of lexicogrammar is that it enables the systematic examination of grammatical metaphor.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1961) On The Meaning Of 'Grammar'

Fawcett (2010: 3):
Before going any further, I should try to clarify the senses in which I am using the terms "grammar" and "syntax". In "Categories", the term "grammar" has a meaning close to a combination of the usual senses of the terms syntax and morphology. Here, however, I shall use the term "grammar" in the sense of 'a model of the sentence-generating component of language' …. And I shall use syntax in the sense of 'syntagmatic relations at the level of form, including inflectional morphology'.

Blogger Comments:

This is misleading.  Even in Halliday (1961), the meaning of the term 'grammar' had been extended well beyond "a combination of the usual senses of the terms syntax and morphology", as demonstrated by the following quotes.  Halliday (2002 [1961]: 40-2):
Grammar is that level of linguistic form at which operate closed systems. Since a system is by definition closed, the use of the term “closed” here is a mnemonic device; but since “system” alone will be used as the name of one of the four fundamental grammatical categories it is useful to retain “closed system” when referring to the system as the crucial criterion for distinguishing grammar from lexis. … 
Any part of linguistic form which is not concerned with the operation of closed systems belongs to the level of lexis. The distinction between closed system patterns and open set patterns in language is in fact a cline; but the theory has to treat them as two distinct types of pattern requiring different categories. For this reason General Linguistic theory must here provide both a theory of grammar and a theory of lexis, and also a means of relating the two. … 
The fundamental categories for the theory of grammar are four: unit, structure, class and system. … 
The relation of these categories to each other and to the data involve three distinct scales of abstraction, those of rank, exponence and delicacy; … 
In discussing these I have used the terms “hierarchy”, “taxonomy” and ‘cline’ as general scale–types.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday (1961, 1985, 1994)

Fawcett (2010: 1):
The title of this book can be read as implying that Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) does not currently have an agreed theory of syntax, and that it is therefore in need of one. This is precisely the interpretation that I intend. 
There certainly was a theory of syntax at the inception of SFL, because the core of Halliday's "Categories of the theory of grammar" (1961) consists of just that. But later developments in Halliday's thinking have left most of the concepts presented in "Categories" with a curiously peripheral status, as we shall see in due course. And the concepts which have superseded them in Halliday's current model for use in representing structure at the level of form seem to hover — insightfully or unsatisfactorily, depending upon your viewpoint — somewhere between the levels of meaning and form. As we shall see in Chapter 5, Halliday's most recent restatement of the theory (Halliday 1993) has virtually nothing to say about structure at the level of form — i.e., syntax — and his recent major functional description of English (Halliday 1985 and 1994) similarly fails to provide a summary of the theory that underlies it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is yet another instance of the logical fallacy of proof by repeated assertion.  No argument has been provided in support of the claim; see previous posts.

[2] The elements of clause structure in Halliday (1961) are Subject, Predicator, Complement and Adjunct (following Hill 1958: 256).  Halliday (2002 [1961]: 47):
In a few cases traditional names exist which can usefully serve as names for elements of structure, with the initial letter as the descriptive symbol. In the statement of English clause structure, for example, four elements are needed, for which the widely accepted terms subject, predicator, complement and adjunct are appropriate.
[3] This is misleading.  This early exploratory paper by Halliday, as the title announces, presents a general overview of the fundamental categories required of a theory of grammar, namely: unit, structure, class and system.  Halliday (2002 [1961]: 37, 41):
My purpose in writing this paper is to suggest what seem to me to be the fundamental categories of that part of General Linguistic theory which is concerned with how language works at the level of grammar, with brief reference to the relations between grammar and lexis and between grammar and phonology. …
The fundamental categories for the theory of grammar are four: unit, structure, class and system.
[4] This is misleading.  The elements of clause structure in Halliday (1961) — Subject, Predicator, Complement and Adjunct — do not have a "curiously peripheral status".  On the contrary, they feature as elements of structure in the clause as exchange (interpersonal metafunction).

[5] Because SFG is a functional grammar, grammatical elements are view 'from above', that is: from semantics, and labelled in terms of the function they perform.  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.
It will be seen later that Fawcett's model of syntax confuses function (Subject) and form (Verb).

[6] This is misleading.  Halliday (1985, 1994) explicitly locate grammatical form in the rankscale of clause, phrase/group, word and morpheme, and in the syntagms (sequence of classes) that realise the elements of structure, as when, in clause structure, Medium^Process is realised by the syntagm nominal group^verbal group.

[7] This is deeply misleading.  Both editions, Halliday (1985, 1994), are expositions of the theory that underlies the description of English.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Arguing By Repeating An Undemonstrated Claim

Fawcett (2010: xxiii):
Thus, whether or not one retains the intermediate level of 'multiple structure' representations of IFG in one's model of language, every systemic functional grammar requires a representation of syntax in a single, integrated structure, underpinned by a set of theoretical concepts such as those set out in Part 2 of this book.

Blogger Comments:

This repeats the still undemonstrated claim that the metafunctional clause structures of SFL theory are 'intermediate', and need to be integrated into a single formal syntactic structure.  This is a continuation of the logical fallacy known as proof by (repeated) assertion.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Misrepresenting The Theoretical Coverage Of The Cardiff Grammar

Fawcett (2010: xxii-xxiii):
Where does this leave the representations of clause structure in IFG and the many derived works? It may be argued by some that the main value of such 'multiple structure' representations is that they provide the best available description of a language that foregrounds the concept that each clause is the realisation of several different broad types of meaning (or 'metafunctions', in Halliday's terms). On the other hand, a representation of the clause that shows (1) the various different types of meaning that it expresses at the level of semantics and (2) a single structure at the level of form provides an equally insightful representation of this important aspect of language, and presents no additional problems for the theory. Moreover it is in fact easier, in a fully generative SF grammar, to generate the final structures directly from the system networks than it is to do it via a 'multiple structure' representation. Chapter 7 includes an example of the alternative way of representing the many meanings in a clause, i.e., by showing the semantic features in their 'strands of meaning'. In this approach, then, there is no 'intermediate' structure, and the representation of syntax at the level of form is the final structure.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is demonstrably false.  A representation of the clause that treats function as semantic and form as lexicogrammar is not 'equally insightful', and does indeed present additional problems for the theory.

The most serious resultant additional problem and lack of insight is the absence of a rich and systematic account of grammatical metaphor, as when, in the simplest of examples, a process (semantics) is realised as a participant (grammar).  Grammatical metaphor was the principal motivation for the stratification of the content plane into semantics and lexicogrammar, each with its own system–structure cycle (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 429).  The importance of grammatical metaphor as a phenomenon includes the fact that it made scientific registers possible (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 545).

It will also be seen later that another shortcoming of the simpler Cardiff model is that it requires the export of much meaning out of semantics (and language) to 'knowledge of the world'.  This makes it a far less efficient theory — since it has less explanatory potential — as well as making it inconsistent with a fundamental tenet of SFL theory — that, in a semiotic theory of language, 'knowledge' is meaning.

[2] This demonstrates the motivation for Fawcett's simpler model: the ease of generating structures from systems, rather than providing a rich explanatory model of the complexity of language.

[3] This continues the unsupported assertion that the metafunctional function structures of the clause are "intermediate" structures.  This is another instance of the logical fallacy of proof by (repeated) assertion.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Argument For A Single Integrated Representation Of Structure

Fawcett (2010: xxii):
To express matters in this way seems at first sight to provide a neat way to reconcile the two models of structure. To my considerable regret, however, I have to point out that this is not what I am proposing. This is because, once one recognises the need for this final type of representation, it leads on to further questions. If this final integrated representation is required — as it undoubtedly is — we have to ask questions such as:
1 What is the status in the theory of the intermediate 'multiple structure' representations of clauses in IFG?
2 Do they represent some sort of 'intermediate' structure between the representation in terms of systemic features and the final integrated representation? 
3 If so, are the 'multiple structures' needed at all? 
If the answer to the third question is "Yes", so that 'multiple structures' of the type shown in IFG are indeed to be treated as an integral part of the model of language, this entails the addition to the model of a new component. Its function would be to convert the 'multiple structure' type of representation into a single representation. But this leads in turn to further questions, such as:
4 Is such component used in the computer implementations of Halliday's theory, e.g., is it described in Matthiessen & Bateman (1991)? 
5 Is there any indication anywhere else in the literature of SFL as to what this component would be like? Indeed, we must also ask: 
6 Is there, in fact, any way in which it is possible to 'integrate' several different structures (as opposed to integrating their elements, which is already standard practice in the theory)?
Chapter 7 asks these questions, provides the answers, and then discusses the implications of these answers for the theory. 

Blogger Comments:

[1] Still no argument has been provided as to why the three complementary function structures need to be integrated into a single syntactic structure.  It has merely been asserted to be true.  This is a version of the logical fallacy known as proof by assertion.

[2] This unsupported claim is presented as both:
  • a motivation for these series of questions (see previous critique), and 
  • one of the questions that logically follow from itself.
This is a version of the logical fallacy known as circular reasoning (circulus in probando) or begging the question (petitio principii).

[3] Here Fawcett criticises his colleagues for not having done what he has not demonstrated needs to be done.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday On Structure

Fawcett (2010: xxi-xxii):
However, I shall also suggest that even a user of Halliday's approach who remains unconvinced by my argument also needs the set of concepts proposed here [author's bolding] (or a fairly similar set). This statement is likely to come as a surprise to many readers, i.e., to those who are familiar with Halliday's proposals for representing the structure of a clause by a set of several different structures — proposals which have not until now been publicly questioned by other systemic linguists. The reason why Halliday's model needs to incorporate the concepts proposed here is that his current structural representations in IFG and elsewhere are not, as he himself would agree, the final stage in the process of generation in his framework, but an intermediate one. In the final stage, the five or more different structures that he distinguishes must be integrated into a single representation [author's bolding]. And it is this integration into a single structure that the theory of syntax presented here provides.

Blogger Comment:

The claims here are that
  • the metafunctional clause structures are only intermediate, because their final stage must be one single integrated representation, and that
  • Halliday would agree with this.
Both these claims are untrue.  The metafunctions are at the heart of SFL theory, and represent important complementary perspectives on the function of language.  Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 74):
The clause, as we said, is the mainspring of grammatical energy; it is the unit where meanings of different kinds, experiential, interpersonal and textual, are integrated into a single syntagm.
Significantly, Fawcett provides
  • no reasons as to why one single integrated representation is required — merely claiming Halliday's agreement with him as an endorsement — and 
  • no cited evidence in support of what he claims to be Halliday's viewpoint.
Moreover, the use of the claim that Halliday would agree, as part of the argument, is a version of the logical fallacy known as appeal to authority.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Misrepresenting SFL Community Opinion On Structural Representation

Fawcett (2010: xviii, xxi):
Indeed, it is one of the most surprising facts about SFL that, after forty years of fairly widespread use in various fields of application, there is no general agreement as to how best to represent the structure of language at the level of form. This book makes clear proposals for a (partly) new theory of syntax, and in particular for the replacement of the method of representing structure that is used in Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar (1994) by a simpler method. Moreover, the new theory of syntax is one that is equally relevant, I shall argue, to a model of language in which Halliday's current representations are retained. … 
In what I have said so far, I have been writing as if the theory of syntax to be presented here is an alternative [author's bolding] to Halliday's approach to structure. And this is indeed what it is, in that the method of representing the syntax of a text-sentence to be described here is ultimately an alternative to his 'multiple structure' method rather than a complement to it.

Blogger Comments:

[1] This is neither surprising, nor a fact.  In a functional theory of language, structure is labelled in terms of function, not form.  Form is accounted for in SFL by the rank scale.  The relation between function and form is realisation — the intensive identifying relation of symbolic abstraction.  An element of function structure at a higher rank is realised by a class of form at the rank below (except in the case of rank-shift).  For example, a Senser, as an element of function structure at the rank of clause, is congruently realised as a nominal group.

[2] The notion of replacing a functional conception of structure with a formal one is inconsistent with the notion of a functional grammar.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Misrepresenting Halliday: Syntax

Fawcett (2010: xviii):
We shall find that there are also important alternative positions within Halliday's theory, and — most pertinently — that he gives us no adequate statement of a 'theory of syntax' in either of the two major recent publications in which we might expect to find one: his paper "Systemic theory" (1993) and his widely influential Introduction to Functional Grammar (1985, second edition 1994). Moreover, we shall find that this leads us to draw unexpected conclusions about the theoretical status of the representations of clauses in IFG, and so about what a theory of syntax for SFL should be like.

Blogger Comments:

Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, as the name implies, is a theory of language that gives priority to
  • system (paradigmatic axis) over structure (syntagmatic axis), and
  • function over form.
In SFL, grammatical form is construed by the rankscale of
  • clause
  • group/phrase
  • word
  • morpheme
In SFL, a distinction is made between structure (function) and syntagm (form). In the following clause, the theme, mood and transitivity lines of analysis constitute function structures, varying for metafunction, in contrast to the formal syntagm of prepositional phrase ^ nominal group ^ verbal group ^ nominal group that realises the elements of function structure.

in Butler’s view
the Cardiff model
a substantial improvement [on the Sydney account]
Theme: marked
Angle: viewpoint
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value
prepositional phrase
nominal group
verbal group
nominal group

Halliday & Matthiessen (2004: 39):
Such a sequence of classes is called a ‘syntagm’. … The significance of such a syntagm is that here it is the realisation of a structure: an organic configuration of elements, which we analyse in functional terms.