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AUTHOR: Halliday, Michael A. K. EDITOR: Webster, Jonathan J. TITLE: On Grammar SERIES: Volume 1 in the Collected Works of M. A. K. Halliday YEAR: 2005 PUBLISHER: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd
Qichang, Ye, Department of English, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Beijing Jiaotong University
This first volume in Collected Works of M. A. K. Halliday series contains fifteen papers, with the addition of a new piece entitled ''A personal perspective'' as the introduction. The papers are pieced together chronologically according to topic, and divided into 3 sections. The whole volume is oriented towards his comprehensive depiction of language, that is, the systemic functional grammar (SFG). The title of each section in this review is inherited from the editor's introduction.
Section One -- Early papers on basic concepts The first section possesses five papers from 1957 to 1966. The basic schema and fundamental concepts of SFG are elaborated in these papers, such as unit, structure, class and system.
Published in 1957, the first paper, ''Some aspects of systematic description and comparison in grammatical analysis'', discusses theoretical considerations which developed out of the body of ideas that went into his doctoral dissertation. The particular attention is paid to the two types of categories: units and classes (p. 25ff). And these concepts will receive a detailed discussion in Chapter 2.
As the center in this section, chapter 2 [''Categories of the theory of grammar'' (1961)] reflects Firth's influence on Halliday's main idea of how language works at the level of grammar (p. 37). In this paper, the author sets out the following fundamental categories for the theory of grammar: unit, structure, class and system, which relate to one another and to the data along three distinct scales of abstraction, including rank, exponence and delicacy, with reference to the relations between grammar and lexis and between grammar and phonology.
Along this line of thinking, the nature of grammar study is descriptive, the object for description is text (either spoken or written), description should relate the text to the categories, and the descriptive process naturally involves a number of abstraction. The theory also requires that linguistic events should be accounted for at a number of different levels: form (two related levels: grammar and lexis), substance (either phonic or graphic) and context (i.e. an interlevel relation form to extratextual features). ''Language has formal meaning and contextual meaning'' (p. 40), the formal meaning of an item is its operation in the network of formal relations. Consequently, contextual meaning is dependent on formal meaning. Hence, language at the level of grammar is patterns of meaningful organization: certain regularities are exhibited over certain stretches of language activity. In the study of language as a whole, Halliday stresses the importance of form (p. 56), it is through grammar and lexis that language activity is meaningful.
As regards the relations among the four categories (unit, structure, class and system), Halliday says, ''each of the four is specifically related to, and logically derivable from, each of the others. There is no relation of precedence or logical priority among them. They are all mutually defining'' (p. 41).
The third paper (chapter 3) in this section called ''Class in relation to the axes of chain and choice in language'' (1963), discusses the relation of class to structure, the chain axis in relation to system, the choice axis.
''Class'' refers to ''to a set of items which are alike in their own structure: that is, in the way that they themselves are made up of items of lower rank'' (p. 96). The two aspects are to be considered here: (1) the relation of class to structure (the ''chain'' axis) and to system (the ''choice'' axis), and (2) the relation of class to the two kinds of structure found in language, the place-ordered and the depth- ordered. The former is composed of a limited number of different elements occurring nonrecursively (p. 101), while the latter is, as a combination of elements, repeated ''in depth'', it is recursive. A further division is made among the recursive structures. Those which cut across the scale of rank are called ''rankshift'' (p. 102) in contrast to ones which do not.
The fourth paper [''Some notes on 'deep' grammar'' (1966)] treats the relationship between structural and systemic descriptions in terms of syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations.
The last paper in this section [''The concept of rank: a reply'' (1966)] replies to arguments against rank grammar put forward by P. H. Matthews. Here Halliday repeats that ''By a rank grammar I mean one which specifies and labels a fixed number of layers in the hierarchy of constituents, such that any constituent, and any constitute, can be assigned to one or other of the specified layers, or ranks'' (p. 118). In this way, on the structure axis, rank is a form of generalization about bracketing, and makes it easier to avoid the imposition of unnecessary structure (p. 120). However, on one point both Halliday and Matthews agree, namely, that rank grammar is only a hypothesis about the nature of language.
Section two -- Word-clause-text Works in the second section span two decades from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s.
The application of SFG is carried out in the analysis and description of patterns at various linguistic levels ranging from lexical item to clause to text. The lexical item is defined by reference to collocation, clause is treated as lexicogrammatical construct, and text should be considered in context of situation. Though they are different in kind, yet they are analogous in nature and systemic in orientation.
The aim of Chapter 6 [''Lexis as a linguistic level'' (1966)] is to consider briefly the nature of lexical patterns and to suggest that lexis may be thought of as within linguistic form and not as a level within grammar, but has the same status as grammar to semantics. The lexical and grammar patterns are different not merely in delicacy but in kind. Halliday holds that this view is implicit in Firth's recognition of ''collocational level'' (p. 158). This view holds (1) that in lexicogrammatical statements collocational restrictions intersect with structural ones; (2) that there is a definable sense in which ''more abstraction'' is involved in grammar than is possible in lexis, and (3) that ''the lexical item is not necessarily coextensive on either axis with the item, or rather with any of the items, identified and accounted for in the grammar'' (p. 163). However, this division is for certain purposes, it does not imply there is a clear-cut between the grammatical and the lexical. Language items are ''grammatical items when described grammatically, as entering (via classes) into closed systems and ordered structures, and lexical items when described lexically, as entering into open sets and linear collocations'' (p. 165). In a lexical analysis, what is under focus is the extent to which an item is specified by its collocational environment'' (p. 166). It is also the collocational restriction that enables us to consider grouping lexical items into lexical sets. ''The criterion for the definition of the lexical set is thus the syntactic (downward) criterion of potentiality of occurrence. Just as the grammatical system (of classes, including one-item classes) is defined by reference to structure, so the lexical set (of items) can be defined by reference to collocation.'' (p. 166).
Chapter 7 draws clearly the outline of the Hallidayan configuration of SFL under the guidance of the three metafunctions. The predecessors such as Malinowski and Buhler, in his view, were just trying to get some models of language to use them outside the linguistic domains, say, sociological or psychological inquiries, and not intended to clarify the nature of linguistic structure. At the same time, the demands made by the language user on language are also ignored in language studies, in other words, the aspect of language in use did not deserve recognition for its importance in language investigation. Halliday insists that ''the nature of language is closely related to the demands that we make on it, the functions it has to serve'' (p. 173), since ''the particular form taken by the grammatical system of language is closely related to the social and personal needs that language is required to serve'' (p. 174).
An act of speech, says Halliday, is a simultaneous selection from among a large number of interrelated options, that is, the meaning potential of language. The system of available options is the ''grammar'' of the language. These networks of options correspond to certain basic functions of language: the expressions of ''content'' (ideational), the establishment and maintenance of social relations (interpersonal), and the textual function (pp. 174-5). Halliday stresses that ''any one clause is built up of a combination of structures deriving from these three functions'' (p. 176).
Halliday proceeds to show how each of the functions is reflected in the structure of the English clause, beginning with the realization of ideational meaning in terms of transitivity structure, involving the linguistic expression of process, participant and circumstance. Halliday also examines how interpersonal meaning is captured in the mood structure of the clause, and how the textual function is expressed in both thematic and information structures.
Chapter 8 [''Modes of meaning and modes of expression: types of grammatical structure, and their determination by different semantic functions'' (1979)] is a further explication of the three metafunctions and the relations among them by using Pike's particle, wave and field in distinguishing between experiential structures which are constituency-based (particle-like), interpersonal structures which are prosodic (field-like) and textual structures which are periodic (wave- like). From this perspective, language, as a semiotic, is considered as a stratified or stratal system. Three different aspects to investigate any one part of the system are therefore established: at its own level, from above and from below (p. 197). Technically speaking, semantics is realized as lexicogrammar, and then lexicogrammar is realized as phonology. Semantics at its own level is generalized as functional modes of meaning (i.e. the three metafunctions). Halliday points out it is here that the two characters of the semantic system are standing out: ''within each component, the networks show a high degree of internal constraint: that is, of interdependence among the various options involved. The selections made by the speaker at one point tend to determine, and be determined by, the selections he makes at another'' (p. 200). While between one component and another, there is very little constraint of this kind: little restriction on the options available, and little effect on their interpretation. What are above the semantic system, writes Halliday, are contexts of situation. The features of a context of situation are expressed in terms of ''field'', ''tenor'' and ''mode'' in SFG (p. 201). Ideational meanings reflect the field of social action, interpersonal meanings, the tenor of social relationships, and textual meanings, the mode of operation of the language within the situation. What Halliday emphasizes here is that ''it is at the lower level (i.e. in their grammatical realization) that these functional components are made manifest in the linguistic structure'' (p. 217).
Chapter 9 [''Text semantics and clause grammar: How is a text like a clause?'' (1981)] is a long article composed of two works: one is ''Text semantics and clause grammar: some patterns of realization'' and the other, ''How is a text like a clause''. In this chapter, Halliday considers a text to be a semantic rather than a formal lexicogrammatical entity.
Having insisted that a text is not like a clause, Halliday continues to point out how they are alike. ''In 'scale-and-category' terminology, the relationship of clause to text is one of exponence as well as one of rank'' (p. 221). Consequently, a text is not ''like'' a clause in the way that a clause is like a word or a syllable like phoneme. ''But by the same token, just because the text differ on two dimensions, both rank (size level) and exponence (stratal level), there can exist between them a relation of another kind: an analogic or metaphorical similarity. A clause stands as a kind of metaphor for a text'' (p. 222). The text possesses the following properties: it has structure (i.e. a configuration of functions) (such as narrative, market and shop transaction); coherence (i.e. it is a whole that is more than the sum of its parts); function (i.e. a tripartite framework for interpreting the register: field, tenor and mode); development (i.e. a text is a dynamic process), and character (i.e. it has the generic features characteristic of the register associated with a particular alignment of the features of the context of situation). That is to say, ''a text is a polyphonic composition of ideational, interpersonal and textual 'voices''' (p. 230). In terms of functions, the above-mentioned properties of a text are also properties of a clause, and the notion of text structure is clearly modeled on that of clause structure. In this sense, ''a clause is a configuration of functions; so is a text'' (p. 231).
Since the three metafunctions can be understood as components of the semantic system and a text can be regarded as a semantic unit, it follows that these components will be present in the text just as they are in the lexicogrammatical entities, the wordings, by which the text is realized. The different facets of the clause-to-text lie in two aspects: their relationship in size and their relationship in abstraction. For the reason that both text and clause possess an ideational structure; an interpersonal structure and a textual structure (pp. 241-243), metaphorically speaking, ''a clause is a text in microcosm, a 'universe of discourse' of its own in which the semiotic properties of a text reappear on a miniature scale'' (p. 246).
Chapter 10 [''Dimensions of discourse analysis: grammar'' (1985)] illustrates the application of systemic-functional grammar to the analysis of a sample of spoken language, i.e. a discussion between an adult and three nine-year-old schoolgirls. Halliday points out that ''systemic grammar is an analysis-synthesis grammar based on the paradigmatic notion of choice. It is built on the work of Saussure, Malinowski and Firth, Hjelmslev, and Prague School, and the American anthropological linguistics Boas, Sapir, and Whorf; the main inspiration being J. R. Firth'' (p. 262). With the goal to show how the text derives from the linguistic system and how it comes to mean what it does, the analysis is divided into ten steps, ranging from transcription of intonation and rhythm, through lexicogrammatical analysis, to description of context of situation in terms of field, tenor and mode (p. 262-3):
1. transcription and analysis of intonation and rhythm 2. analysis into clauses and clause complexes, showing interdependencies and logical-semantic relations 3. analysis of clauses, and clause complexes, for thematic (Theme- Rheme)structure 4. comparison of clauses and information units, and analysis of the latter for information (Given-New) structure 5. analysis of finite clauses for mood, showing Subject and Finite 6. analysis of all clause for transitivity, showing process type and participant and circumstantial functions 7. analysis of groups and phrases (verbal group, nominal group, adverbial group, prepositional phrase) 8. analysis of grammatical and lexical cohesion 9. identification, rewording and reanalysis of grammatical metaphors 10. description of context of situation, and correlation with features of the text.
The three points are reached from this analysis (p. 285): firstly, there are many different purposes for analyzing a text, and the scope and direction of the analysis will vary accordingly, but the guiding principle is to select and develop whatever is needed for the particular purpose in hand; secondly, this kind of analysis does not naturally expel other kinds of interpretation; and thirdly, the lexicogrammatical analysis is only a part of the task, hence, the analysis of the grammar does not constitute the interpretation of a text.
Section 3 -- Construing and enacting In chapter 11 [''On the Ineffability of Grammatical Categories (1984)], Halliday argues that because language is an evolved system rather than a designed one, it rests on principles that are ineffable. The ineffability of grammatical categories lies in the nature of language as object. Halliday asserts that ''to define a linguistic term by encoding is relatively simple'' (p. 292), while to define it by decoding is a very different, and a very difficult, task if not possible. Certainly, this problem is not confined to linguistics but to all sciences.
However, in the case of metalinguistic matters, linguistics presents a special case. ''It is not just another science. It is 'language turned back on itself', to use Firth's (very British) expression; or, in Weinreich's (very American) formulation, 'language as its own metalanguage'. As a consequence, where other sciences need two terms, we need three: one for the phenomenon, and two for the metaphenomenon, one grammatical and the other semantic'' (p. 296). Therefore, a metalanguage has to be created, and created out of natural language, in order to assign a Value to a Token, that is, ''the metalanguage being a form of the same semiotic system that it is also being used to describe'' (p. 298). The problem of self-reference is still an important one, but the real problem lies in the nature of language as object, and particularly the nature of lexicogrammar. The categories of grammar, for instance Subject, (including all other terms in grammar) are ineffable just because they are hidden from view. Here Halliday borrows Whorf's concept of ''cryptotype'' to refer to the phenomenon. ''It is not because they are hidden from the linguist that grammatical categories are hard to define; once the linguist has found them, the fact that they had escaped his notice ceases to matter. The significance of this concept of a cryptotype is that it is something that escapes the notice of the speakers of the language'' (p. 302). Why is this case? According to Halliday, ''our ability to use language depends critically on our not being conscious of doing so -- which is the truth that every language learner has to discover, and the contradiction from which every language teacher has to escape'' (p. 302). As a necessity, a division between conscious language and unconscious language is made. ''While the complexity of conscious language is dense and crystalline, formed by a closely-packed construction of words and word clusters, the complexity of unconscious language is fluid and choreographic'' (p. 303). Therefore, the meaning of a typical grammatical category has no counterpart in our conscious representation of things. ''There can be no exact paraphrase of Subject or Actor or Theme -- because there is no language- independent clustering of phenomena in our experience to which they correspond'' (p. 303). Since language is an evolved rather than a designed system, it is ''that which makes the category of Subject learnable is also that which ensures that it will be learnable'' (p. 306). The ineffable relate directly to the semantic system that is ''above'' the grammar, that which interprets the ideologies of the culture and codes them in a wordable form. ''In other words, the context for understanding the Subject is not the clause, which is its grammatical environment, but the text, which is its semantic environment'' (p. 308). In this sense, we can only talk metonymically and metaphorically about the ineffable.
Chapter 12 [''Spoken and written modes of meaning'' (1987)] succeeds in further explaining the differences between unconscious and spontaneous spoken discourse, and its more conscious and self- monitored counterpart, written language.
Halliday claims that the spoken language has not received its deserved emphasis in the past studies. ''The investigators of the fifties and early sixties were not concerned with the particular place of spoken language in the learning process'' (p. 324).
Based on his own teaching practice, Halliday maintains that each of them (either spoken or written) is highly organized and complex in its own way. Halliday describes written language as ''crystalline'', and spoken language as ''choreographic'', just as he does in Chapter 11. In his view, spoken language possesses the most unexpected feature, that is, the complexity of some of the sentence structures. This reflects in two apects: patterns of parataxis and hypotaxis. With an in-depth comparison between spoken and written examples, the result displays: the relationship between spoken and written is not a simple dichotomy but a continuum. Along this continuum, much of the difference of texture can be accounted for as the effect of two related lexicosyntactic variables. ''The written version has a much higher lexical density; at the same time, it has a much simpler sentential structure'' (p. 328). In grammatical intricacy, the spoken text has a lower degree of lexical density, but a higher degree of grammatical intricacy. Halliday further demonstrates that this intricacy is more a characteristic of the most unconscious spontaneous uses of language. ''The more natural, un-self-monitored the discourse, the more intricate the grammatical patterns that can be woven'' (p. 335-6). Hence, ''the complexity of written language is crystalline, whereas the complexity of spoken language is choreographic. The complexity of spoken language is in its flow, the dynamic mobility whereby each figure provides a context for the next one, not only defining its point of departure but also setting the conventions by reference to which it is to be interpreted'' (p. 336).
A closer look at the difference reveals that spoken English is marked by intricacy in the clause complex, written English is marked by complexity in the nominal group.
As a conclusion to this chapter, Halliday writes: ''speech and writing will appear, then, as different ways of meaning: speech as spun out, flowing, choreographic, oriented towards events (doing, happening, sensing, saying, being), processlike, intricate, with meanings related serially; writing as dense, structured, crystalline, oriented towards things (entities, objectified processes), productlike, tight, with meanings related as components'' (p. 350).
''How do you mean?'' (1992) (Chapter 13) takes meaning as a mode of action occurring at the intersection of the conscious and material modes of experience. The distinction between realization and instantiation is first made. Instantiation is ''the move between the system and the instance; it is an intrastratal relationship, that is, it does not involve a move between strata'' (p. 352), while realization is prototypically an interstratal relationship; meanings are realized as wordings, wordings realized as sound (or soundings). Halliday argues that ''in humans, meaning develops, in the individual, before the stage of language proper; it begins with what I have called 'protolanguage''' (p. 353). This protolanguage evolves out of the contradiction between the material and the conscious. Our experience is at once both material and conscious; and it is the contradiction between the material and the conscious that gives these phenomena their semogenic potential. ''What is construed in this way, by this total semogenic process, is an elastic space defined by the two dimensions given above: the 'inner' dimension of reflective / active, 'I think' as against 'I want', and the 'outer' dimension of intersubjective / objective, 'you and me' as against 'he, she, it''' (p. 355). How to free the symbolic dimension from this semogenic potential? Halliday writes: ''by 'grammaticalizing' the process of meaning -- reconstruing it so that the symbolic organization is freed from direct dependence on the phenomenal, and can develop a structure of its own -- the collective human consciousness created a semiotic space which is truly elastic; in that it can expand into any number of dimensions'' (p. 355-6). In Halliday's view, it is the ''explosion burst into grammar'' that has made this possible: ''an explosion that bursts apart the two facets of the protolinguistic sign. The result is a semiotic of a new kind: a stratified, tristratal system in which meaning is 'twice cooked', thus incorporating a stratum of 'pure' content form'' (p. 356). These are in fact the three modes or dimensions of semohistory: the phylogenetic, the ontogenetic and logogenetic. Thus, the possibility of semiosis (Halliday calls ''the possibility of meaning'' or ''the possibility of acting semiotically'') arises at the intersection of the material (or phenomenal) with the conscious, as the members of a species learn to construct themselves (''society'') in action and to construe their experience in reflection (p. 362). It is the processes of realization and instantiation that make possible this dynamic open system we call language.
Chapter 14 is ''Grammar and daily life: concurrence and complementary'' (1998). Just as the title suggests, a grammar is resource for meaning, the critical functioning semiotic by means of which everyday life is pursued. It therefore embodies a theory of everyday life. ''Grammar is what brings about the distinctively human construction of reality; and by the same token, grammar makes it possible for us to reflect on this reflection'' (p. 370). In this sense, ''ways of saying'' is consistent with ''ways of meaning''. However, such frames of consistency are always accompanied with frames of inconsistency. The latter is regions where the grammar construes a pattern out of tensions and contradictions -- where the different ''voices'' of experience conflict. Put it in another way, ''the grammar's theory of experience embodies complementarity as well as concurrence… It is the combination of these two perspectives -- concurrence and complementarity -- that is the salient characteristic of the grammar of daily life'' (p. 374).
Halliday notices that there are three related developments in grammar (p. 376):
First, the grammar developed a battery of resources such that any representation of a process can be construed in all possible patterns of information flow: either in a linear movement from Theme to Rheme or in a to-and-fro between Given and New.
The second feature is the motif of the ''phrasal verb''.
''Thirdly, there is an analogous pattern whereby one of the other elements in the clause (i.e. one which could but would not necessarily come at the end) is marked out for news value by having a preposition added to it''.
These three characteristics are also the features of the grammar of daily life, and all of them reflect ''unconscious, spontaneous, everyday linguistic encounters'', they are ''a form of discourse in which the flow of information will typically be rendered explicit rather than being taken for granted'' (p. 377).
Theoretically speaking, Chapter 15 [''On grammar and grammatics'' (1996)] is the summary of the whole volume at the macro-level, the aim is to state the relations between grammar, linguistics and language. Halliday says ''grammar is part of language; so, within that general domain, the study of grammar may be called grammatics'' (p. 386). The study of grammar can be taken from different directions (e.g. the emergence of grammar through time, grammar in semiotic function, grammar as theory). In a stratified semiotic system, the grammar can also be used to look at things from the following points of view: '' (i) 'from above' -- similarity of function in context; (ii) 'from below' -- similarity of formal make-up; and (iii) 'from the same level' -- fit with the other categories that are being construed in the overall organization of the system'' (p. 398). The ''trinocular'' principle in the grammatics is, in fact, the compromise of the ideational, interpersonal and textual metafunctions. This compromise relies on realization and instantiation. It is here that Halliday reasserts the importance of the two among the key concepts in SFG: ''Realization is the name given to the relationship between the strata; the verb realize faces 'upwards', such that the 'lower' stratum realizes the 'higher' one...Instantiation is the relationship between the system and the instance; the instance is said to instantiate the system'' (pp. 410-1).
What is of more theoretical importance is Halliday also calls our attention to the fact: ''there is only one set of phenomena here, not two; langue (the linguistic system) differs from parole (the linguistic instance) only in the position taken up by the observer. Langue is parole seen from a distance, and hence on the way to being theorized about'' (p. 412). Nevertheless, a grammatics is not something dispensable, to use natural language requires a grammatics: ''a way of modeling natural language that makes sense in this particular context'' (p. 417).
The content presented in this volume is a brief sketch of Halliday's half a century's practice and study of language.
The contemporary linguistic arena is usually divided into two approaches to the study of language: the socially oriented and the psychologically oriented. Kress (1976: vii) is right when he puts SFG under the first. Halliday (1978: 18) himself writes: ''a functional theory is not a theory about the mental processes involved in the learning of the mother tongue; it is a theory about the social processes involved''.
In the origins of Halliday's theory three names figure prominently: Malinowski, Firth, and Whorf. And their influences on SFG can be seen everywhere in this volume.
From Malinowski, Halliday takes over the definition of meaning as function in context, and accepts the former's characterization of language as multi-functional, hence, the three metafunctions of SFG.
From Whorf, Halliday concentrates on the relation of language and culture.
From Firth, Halliday derives most of all. Kress (1976:xiv) points out: ''the importance of Firth for Halliday lies in the attempt which Firth made to provide the linguistic component to go with the sociolinguistic insights of Malinowski''. The two important categories are: context of situation (i.e. the concept of register in Halliday's work) and system (the major formal category in Halliday's theory). Undoubtedly, these are not the only influences. Halliday himself writes (Chapter 2, pp. 37- 8): ''the theory sketched out here derives most of all from the work of J. R. Firth''. It is perhaps because of this that SFG is labeled the Neo- Firthian. Such a label often obscures the main thrust of Halliday's thinking about language. In fact, from his earliest statements (Chapter 1 in this volume shows this clearly) on, Halliday attempts to provide a coherent theoretical framework for his descriptive linguistic work, while Firth failed to do this. In this sense, SFG, just like any theory of language, is not created out of nothing.
Halliday's method has been applied extensively to many research domains, among them, educational research (Lemke, 1995; Cope & kalantzis, 2000); critical discourse analysis (Kress & Hodge, 1979; Toolan, 2002; Fairclough, 2003); visual communication (O'Toole, 1994; Kress & Leeuwen, 1996; Leeuwen & Jewitt, 2001); and ecosocial semiotics (Thibault, 2004a, 2004b). This multiple application of SFG has undoubtedly been the source of different worries both inside and outside SFG domain. Here the reviewer's attention is on McGregor's anxiety.
McGregor (1997) worries about the price that SFG shall pay or has paid in the drive to cast the widest possible net the fundamentals (he calls ''the grammatical core'') will be lost or have been lost sight of. This anxiety is unnecessary. On the one hand, almost ten years' practice has demonstrated that the studies at the levels of multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, have strengthened rather than weakened SFG, the ''grammatical core'' did not disappear into these bushes. On the other hand, the development of any branch of language studies can be only carried out in the network of various disciplines. A discipline is not an island. SFG's significance just lies in the interface between language and society.
McGregor's worry is both different and disciplinarily restricted when compared with Chomsky's anxiety. Chomsky (1985/2001: F37) states that he has been puzzled by two problems concerning human knowledge for a long time: ''Plato's problem'' and ''Orwell's problem''. To the latter, Chomsky (ibid, p. F39) suggests that the solution is to discover the institutional and other factors that block insight and
understanding in crucial areas of our lives and ask why they are effective. He also realizes the importance of the issue: ''But unless we can come to understand Orwell's problem and to recognize its significance in our own social and cultural life, and to overcome it, the chances are slim that the human species will survive long enough to discover the answer to Plato's problem or others that challenge the intellect and the imagination'' (ibid, p. F41).
This kind of despair has been changed into the past challenges, the present tasks, and the already-got achievements in the domain of SFG. In terms of both challenge and task, Halliday (p.383, this volume) does not hesitate to say: ''to be a linguist is inevitably to be concerned with the human condition; it takes a linguist of the stature of Sydney Lamb to explain how so much of what constitutes the human condition is construed, transmitted, maintained -- and potentially transformed -- by means of language''. He describes (especially in this volume) how grammar enables us, unconsciously, to construe our reality, and interpret our experience, while grammatics makes it possible for us to reflect consciously on how this theory of our human experience works.
As to the already-got achievements, the evidence is the aforementioned application of SFG in different orientations.
Discourse (i.e. ''language in use'' or ''parole''), according to Heidegger and Halliday, is the only foundation upon which a linguistic theory should be built. The priority of parole over langue is shared by both of them. It is held by the present reviewer that this common understanding shared by both of them is, not only interesting, but also revealing, though it took place differently both in time and domain.
Heidegger subordinates issues of language to issues of Dasein (German: being-there). Dasein is broadly every kind of being or existence and narrowly the kind of being that belongs to persons. Since human being must have a place there in the world, hence, Dasein can be understood as ''being-in-the-world''. This Dasein is roughly equal to Halliday's ''the social man'' (1978). Discourse is defined by Heidegger (1927/1962: 203-4) as ''the articulation of intelligibility'', or more precisely as ''the articulation of intelligibility of being-in-the-world...according to signification'' (ibid, p. 206). The distinction between langue and parole is certainly not denied or overlooked by Heidegger. It is evident that discourse here is really in the sense of Saussure's ''parole''. Nevertheless, the existential- ontological foundation of language is discourse. Heidegger (1979/1985:261) emphasizes: ''language is nothing but a distinctive possibility of the very being of Dasein''. Ontologically speaking, ''there is language only because there is discourse, and not conversely'' (ibid, p. 265).
Turning back to Halliday, we are told: ''there is only one set of phenomena here, not two; langue (the linguistic system) differs from parole (the linguistic instance) only in the position taken up by the observer. Langue is parole seen from a distance, and hence on the way to being theorized about'' (p. 412, this volume).
Then, what is the place of SFG in relation to discourse? Only a perspective. Obviously, this is Halliday's answer.
Chomsky, Noam (1985/2001) Knowledge of Language: Its Nature, Origin, and Use Beijing/Westport, CT.: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press/Greenwood Publishing Group.
Cope, Bill & Mary Kalantzis (eds.) (2000) Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures; London & New York: Routledge.
Halliday, M. A. K. (1978) Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning London: Edward Arnold (Publishers) Limited.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Qichang Ye is an associate professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Beijing Jiaotong University. His main areas of interest are semiotics, functional linguistics, discourse analysis and applied linguistics.