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.

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