Sunday, 15 September 2019

The Source Of Fawcett's Confusion Between Axial Realisation And Instantiation

Fawcett (2010: 94):
However, the specific 'realisation rules' in each of the two versions are capable of being used to generate different types of structural output — and it is in the part of the theory that describes these outputs — or instances — that the major differences between the two models occur. 
As we shall see in more detail in Section 7.8 of Chapter 7, the output from the Cardiff Grammar is a single structure with a rich labelling of the nodes, while the output from the Sydney Grammar is — at least in principle — a set of several different structural representations. It is the task of the rest of Part 1 to explain just what these differences are, and to examine the extremely serious questions that they raise for the theory of syntax in SFL.

Blogger Comments:

[1] To be clear, here Fawcett reveals that it is his notion of 'output' — in his flowchart model (Figure 4) — that is the source of his confusion between structure and instance.  In SFL theory, the relation between paradigmatic system and syntagmatic structure is realisation, which is a relation of identity obtaining between levels of symbolic abstraction (a token-value relation); whereas the relation between system and instance is instantiation, which is a class membership relation between a token and a type (a carrier-attribute relation).  See, for example, Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 144-5).

[2] To be clear, Systemic Functional Linguistics is a theory that prioritises system and function over structure and form (i.e. syntax).  The 'extremely serious' questions that Fawcett raises arise from his (already demonstrated) confusion between element (of function structure) and rank constituent (of form) — as will be seen in future posts.

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