The dialectic of theory and practice: SFL as an appliable linguistics Chang Chenguang School of Foreign Languages Sun Yat-sen University 24 September 2010 Introduction Systemic Functional Linguistics has always stressed the dialectic interaction between theory and practice. Halliday’s vision is to construct an appliable theory that can be helpful to people who are engaging with language in their work. an appliable theory: the emphasis of SFL on social accountability Martin: neo-Marxist theory that is ideologically committed to social action It can continue growing as the dialectic of theory and practice. Huang (2000): spread and development of SFL in China There are many reasons why SLF has been developing rapidly in China, and one of the most important factors is its practicality and appliability. …because SFL emphasizes studying language in use… and it is a theory particularly suitable for discourse analysis… Appliability: one of the attractions of the theory 26 March 2006, the official launch of the Halliday Centre for Intelligent Applications of Language Studies Halliday’s inaugural lecture: Working with meaning: towards an Appliable Linguistics: Webster: Professor Halliday's theoretical approach, with its focus on modeling meaning and emphasis on social accountability, provides the basis for the Halliday Centre's research in appliable linguistics. Halliday examined how the scientific study of language helps solve communication problems in many aspects of modern life, including education, culture, health and safety. … He has investigated many activities in which an effective outcome depends on applying a theoretical understanding of language to solving problems… December, 2006, Sun Yat-sen University Symposium on Functional Linguistics and Discourse Analysis Theme: Systemic Functional Linguistics as Appliable Linguistics Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen (2006): Systemic Functional Linguistics — appliability: areas of research” Systemic Functional Linguistics — appliability: areas of research Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen Linguistics, Macquarie University; Systemic Meaning Modelling Group; Halliday Centre firstname.lastname@example.org October, 2007, Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang, 10th National Functional Linguistics Conference Hu Zhuanglin: Halliday’s Appliable Linguistics Other interpretations: Some misunderstanding: “Halliday’s new shift” Halliday (2008: 189) Complementarities in Language（《语言系统 的并协与互补》 I am committed to working towards a coherent account of language which is “appliable”, in the sense that it can be helpful to at least some of the large numbers of people who are in some way or other engaging with language in the course of their work. Complementarities in language include those between: lexis and grammar language as system and language as text two modes of speaking and writing Halliday (2008: ii)：The complementarities in language are highlighted here with the aim of achieving a coherent account of language which is “appliable”. Lexis and grammar In SFL, language is seen as a complex semiotic system, having various levels or strata: semantics, lexicogrammar and phonology/phonetics. (Halliday 2004a: 24) Folk names content expression meanings Technical terms (discourse-) semantics wordings lexicogrammar sounds/letters phonology / graphology Levels or strata of language (Eggins 1994: 21) Halliday (2004: 25) Lexicogrammar as a continuum or cline. Halliday (2004: 43): Because the two ends of the continuum are organized differently, when it came to describing them different techniques evolved: dictionary and thesaurus for lexis…, the ‘grammar book’ …for grammar. Either of these techniques may be extended all the way along the cline – but with diminishing returns… Halliday (2008: 31): the grammarian’s dream was to take over the whole of the territory, reducing everything treated as ‘vocabulary’ to a part of the grammar “lexis as most delicate grammar” Halliday (2004: 44) Halliday (2004a: 44): verbs of saying – imperating tell order ask urge instruct command forbid implore, beg require Differentiated by the delicate verbal process type systems PROCESS FORCE AUTHORITY LOADING tell neutral (1) neutral (1) neutral (1) ask toned down (3) neutral (1) neutral (1) forbid toned up (2) personal (2) institutional (3) negative (3) implore, beg toned down (3) personal (2) neutral (1) require toned up (2) institutional (3) positive (2) Halliday (2004a: 44) The lexicologist’s dream: building the grammar out of the lexis lexicological method to the “grammar” end Francis (1993): words have their own grammar Extending Verbs like adore, dislike, enjoy, hate, like, love, need, want often occur in the pattern “what or all + pronoun + verb + be + noun”… & Francis (2000): pattern grammar: “words that share meaning share patterns” Hunston take + pride/pleasure/delight + in + …ing waste/squander/spend + time/energy/money + on/in + …ing How do we describe patterns of this kind? Halliday (2004a: 45): In systemic theory they appear as moderately delicate choices in the grammar, typically in transitivity and its related systems, having complex realizations involving both grammatical and lexical selections. a metafunctional perspective (Halliday 2008: 4565) Ideationally, the lexicogrammar sorts out the complex world of our surroundings… there are particular things… sorted out into classes,… classes of classes, or taxonomies….As well as things there are happenings… both things and happenings display certain very general features… The lexicogrammar adopts two contrasting perspectives for construing all this complexity. The one is specific and open-ended….the other is general and systemic… The two perspectives are complementary; any phenomenon can be looked at in terms of either… Halliday (1998, 2008: 3-4)：the grammar of pain In English, there is a lexical inventory of different kinds of pain… based on the items hurt, pain, ache, sore, tender etc, … and terms in simile or as metaphors: burning, throbbing, stabbing etc. Also lexicalized are the parts of the body where pain is found to be located. The relation between the pain and the sufferer is grammaticalized: transitivity, voice, etc A combination of the lexical and the grammatical resources: it hurts, it’s hurting, I hurt, it hurt me, I hurt myself, my leg hurts, I have a headache, my head aches Interpersonally, the same two perspectives come into play. Some interpersonal meanings are highly generalized, like the enactment of dialogic roles (speech function). (Martin & White 2005: INTERpersonal) InterPERSONAL? With options in the way something is evaluated or contended, the borderline is shaded over; systems of APPRAISAL represent more delicate options within the general region of evaluation. (Martin & White 2005: 130-135; Martin & Rose 2007: 48-51; Halliday 2008: 49) (Halliday 2008: 49): In the interpersonal domain, the organization of meaning is less polarized, there is not such a clear demarcation between the general and the particular in the management of human relationships. Language as system and language as text Halliday (2008: 84): The complementarity of grammar and lexis is one of focus, based on the scale or vector of delicacy. System and text, on the other hand, form a complementarity of angle, based on the vector of instantiation. Halliday (1994: xxii): the grammar is at once both a grammar of the system and a grammar of the text. Discourse analysis has to be founded on a study of the system of the language. At the same time, the main reason for studying the system is to throw light on discourse… Both system and text have to be in focus of attention. Weather and climate analogy Halliday (2002) System: language seen from a distance, as semiotic potential Text: language seen from close up, as instances derived from that potential Martin & White (2005: 23-4) … weather being the capricious flux we experience day to day, and climate the relatively comforting inertia we try to use to plan. Critically, weather and climate are the same thing, looked at in different ways; climate is a generalisation of weather patterns, and weather is an instance of climatic trends. In SFL the concept of instantiation is used to explore the metastablity of systems – how they change globally in ways that matter (e.g. global warming) and how they vary locally in ways that apparently don't (e.g. daily temperature variations). Theoretically speaking local variation is always nudging the system as a whole in one direction or another… For Halliday, the potential of language is a meaning potential. This meaning potential is the linguistic realization of the behaviour potential; “can mean” is “can do” when translated into language… realized in the language system as lexicogrammatical potential, which is what the speaker “can say”. (CWH 10: 46) Halliday (2008: 192) Discourse analysis itself is sometimes counted among the “applications” of linguistics; I would consider it, rather, as a proper part of linguistics, the part that consists in the description of particular instances of language. Matthiessen & Halliday (2009: 80) …the task of grammatics is not just to describe the system, it is also to relate the system to the instance – or rather (since there is no distinct steps) to describe the system as it relates to actual instances of language (referred to as text) …our concept of system is valid only because it is instantiated in text: each instance keeps alive the potential, on one hand reinforcing it and on the other hand challenging and changing it. This dialectic of text and system is what we understand by a living language. Halliday (2008: 15): The system depends on memory: on what each speaker has inscripted in the brain; and specifically on shared memory, such that enough is in common to viable number of different speaker-brains to ensure that there is no break in continuity. What is shared includes not only the networks of grammatical and phonological systems but also quantitative patterns – the probability profiles which are …an inherent property of the systems themselves…It takes time, and also a good deal of input – of textual experience, to accumulate a memory of this kind… Halliday (2008: 16): The complementarity between system and text is not just an artefact of our description; it is a complementarity that is built up in every individual’s “language brain” as it constantly shifts its focus between the instantial activity of the moment and the long-term patterns that are being drawn on in processing this activity – that is in the production and understanding of discourse. SFL and corpus linguistcs SFL has always emphasized the analysis of naturally occurring language data, so is in this sense always corpus-based。 Halliday (2006): in principle, a corpus may be of any size – the origin of the term … was the philologists’ corpus inscriptionum, which was sometimes very small… Malinowski (1935): record of conversations with the Trobriand Islanders on the cultivation of their gardening plots: Corpus Inscriptionum Agriculturae Kiriwiniensis。 Halliday (2006): corpus as object, and corpus as instrument as object: a single text studied as object – valued as a discourse in its own right (relating it to the system) corpus as instrument: text as a window on to the system, then scale matters (the larger the corpus, the more effectively it will reveal the system) corpus The large-scale corpus constitutes a comparable thickening of the data; …not simply an accumulation of more of the same. (Halliday 2006) …it encompasses more variation, dialectal, diatypic and diachronic … it also extends the scope, and hence the power of quantitative methods of analysis. Hoey (2006): the pursuit of corpus linguistics in no way excludes or conflicts with the intensive study of individual texts. Text analysis adds to the conceptual depth of the categories studied, and … to the riches of the description as a whole. Halliday (2004b) ： I can so no place for an opposition between theory and data, in the sense of a clear boundary between “data-gathering” and theory construction. [linguistics] will be greatly hindered if we think of data and theory as realms apart, or divide the world scholarship into those who dig and those who spin. Halliday (2004a: 29): as grammarians we have to be able to shift our perspective, observing now from the system end and now from that of the text; and we have to be aware at which point we are standing at any time. This issue has been strongly foregrounded by the appearance of the computerized corpus…But the corpus does not write the grammar for you, any more than the data from experiments in the behaviour of light wrote Newton’s Opticks for him; it has to be theorized. We would argue for a dialectical complementarity between theory and data: complementarity because some phenomena show up best if illuminated by a general theory (i.e. from the “system” end), others if treated as patterns within the data (i.e. from the “instance end)… Halliday (2004a: 35) cautions against “anti-theoretical ideology” … new data from the corpus pose problems for any theory, systemic theory included – as Jones said, “a science without difficulties is not a science at all.” (Jones, 1999: 152). But such data will not contribute towards raising our understanding unless cultured by stock from within the pool of theoretical knowledge. A corpus-driven grammar is not one that is theory-free. Tognini-Bonelli: “If the paradigm is not excluded from this [corpusdriven] view of language, it is seen as secondary with respect to the syntagm. Corpus linguistics is thus above all a linguistics of parole”. Halliday: “I don’t think corpus-driven linguistics is a linguistics of parole … Once you are ‘doing linguistics’, you have already moved above the instantial realm.” A corpus-driven grammar needs a grammar-driven corpus. Speaking and writing Halliday: emphasis on speech 1950-60s Quirk: Survey of English Francis and Kučera: Brown corpus Halliday: recording and analysing natural speech Halliday (2004a: 34) … it is in the most unself-monitored spontaneous speech that people explore and expand their meaning potential. It is here that we reach the semantic frontiers of language and get a sense of the directions in which its grammar is moving. Halliday (2008: 141): when we are observing and investigating language, our vision is essentially trinocular from above (in terms of its function in various contexts) from below (in terms of the various modes of expression) from round about (from its own level) from above (in terms of its function in various contexts) In origin, speech and writing display a functional complementarity: writing, though parasitic on speech, evolved in the service of distinct functions in society, concerned with the development of agriculture and the growth of permanent settlement. … writing is at one and the same time both more constraining and more enabling than speaking. from below (in terms of the various modes of expression) speech happens, as ongoing transitory disturbances in the air, that we recognize as sound waves; writing exists, as simultaneous and relatively permanent visible marks, on stone or metal or vegetable matter processed into paper (Halliday 2008: 140) from round about (at the lexicogrammatical stratum) Halliday (2008: 158-164): a complementarity in the kinds of complexity they entail Grammatical intricacy: The complexity of the spoken language is…choreographic: it can build up structured clauses, and string these out in equally elaborate clause complexes, giving a commonsense picture of the world that is intricate but not dense…not very densely packed Lexical density: The complexity of the written language could be described as crystalline: its clauses tend to be rather simple in structure, but they can be extremely dense These are two ways of managing complexity: different strategies for transforming complex phenomena into edifices of meaning. Interpersonally, the most significant variable in this context is that of personality, the different personae being taken on by the writer and the speaker Writing departs further from the dialogic foundations of language … If you are writing, your addressee is typically virtual, The writer’s personal intrusion into the discourse may be less apparent, but present in lexicalized systems of appraisal… whereas if you are speaking your addressee is typically actual, and this imposes constraints on the meaningmaking process… more a matter for negotiation… The complementarity of grammar and lexis is one of focus, based on the scale or vector of delicacy. System and text, on the other hand, form a complementarity of angle, based on the vector of instantiation. Speaking and writing form a complementarity of state, opposed in the manner of realization Spoken language is liquid and transitory; written language is solid and permanent. Speech unfolds in time… writing extends in space… The dialectic of theory and practice A further complementarity: that of theory and practice, or theory and application. The dialectic of theory and practice Halliday’s “appliable linguistics” is consistent with his thinking all along. Firth’s influence: “Meaning viewed as the function of linguistic item in its context of use” Butler (1985: 3): Halliday’s primary interest is in language as a central attribute of “social man” and his main aim is to account for the ways in which speakers and writers interact with their hearers and readers in social situations. The dialectic of theory and practice Thompson & Collins (2001): Interview with M.A.K. Halliday. DELTA 17: 1 Now as regard the social practice, again I would feel that what I have explored has been a development of these interests. Again, it goes back to Firth, whose view was … that the important direction for the future lay in sociology of language. Halliday sees language essentially as “a system of meaning potential.” ... this semantic system is itself the realization of something beyond, which is what the speaker can do – I have referred to that as the “behavior potential”. In an interview with Parret, Halliday (1978: 36) points out: the instrumentality of linguistics and its autonomy are not contradictory…the two perspectives are complementary… Probably most people who have looked at language in functional terms have had a predominantly instrumental approach…for understanding something else – the social system, for example. Butler (1985: 3): Halliday has also inherited Firth’s concern with the practical applications of linguistic theory: indeed his main interest now appears to be the ways in which linguistics can contribute to such applied fields as stylistics, language in education, and artificial intelligence. Halliday (2008: 203) complementarity of theory and practice, or theory and application. Matthiessen 2006 educational: literacy, language and content, second/ foreign learning language evolution: phases of evolution clinical: speech pathology, aphasiology; therapy; consultation SFL community: half-way houses language development: case studies of learning how to mean theory and metatheory; modelling multilingual studies: typology, translation forensic: interrogations, electronic scams computational: text generation, text classification, dialogue language description corpus studies discourse analysis: positive, critical, strategic; multimodal ... Halliday: appliable theory that can be helpful to people who are engaging with language in their work. Thompson & Collins (2001): Interview with M.A.K. Halliday. DELTA 17: 1 I never saw myself as theorist; I only became interested in theory, in the first place, because, in the theoretical approaches that I had access to, I didn’t find certain areas developed enough to enable me to explore the questions that I was interested in. Martin (2000) SFL…as an ideologically committed form of social action some kind of neo-Marxist linguistics, designed by Halliday to materilaize language as base and context as social semiotic superstructure – a model that can be used to intervene in language development around the world. SFL as politicised theory, … as materialist theory, designed to engage. Thompson & Collins (2001): Interview with M.A.K. Halliday. DELTA 17: 1 …one example of where I’ve changed… I had at that time what you might call a classical Marxist view, which was very much technology driven and therefore seeing language as a kind of second-order phenomenon, where essentially it was reflecting rather than construing. But there has been a shift, generally towards what has been characterised as neo-Marxist… instead of seeing language as essentially technology-driven, I would want to see it as a product of the dialectic between material processes and semiotic processes, so the semiotic become constructive-constitutive… Thompson & Collins (2001) : The fact that language does not simply “reflect” social structures but “construes” them is a fundamental tenet of SFL. Thompson & Collins (2001): Interview with M.A.K. Halliday. DELTA 17: 1 …in the sixtieth I worked with teachers of all levels, so I became involved with the context of developing a grammar for educational purposes. Now I still saw that as part of what I sometimes call that social accountability of the linguist – although it was directly political, it was as I saw it, trying to make a contribution to society… of course we learn a lot about language from being involved in practical applications like this… Halliday (2008): “socially accountable linguistics”? it puts language in its social context (解释语言的特 征和本质，即注重其社会理据) at the same time it puts linguistics in its social context, as mode of intervention in critical social practices (把语言学当作一种干预方式, 即注重社 会责任) Halliday has always emphasized accountability of the linguist “The social Context of Linguistics” (1975/2003) In matters such as these, theoretical linguists refused to admit the social accountability of their subject, and withdraw their expertise from activities that could have been beneficial to large numbers of people. In short: linguistics has not yet faced up to the question of its social accountability. …many of the arguments lead back to this same point: that there are strong boundaries between academic disciplines, which hamper intellectual development and induce both overspecialization and underapplication. (CWH 3) “Systemic Background” (1985/2003) What is perhaps a unifying factor among these who work within this framework is a strong sense of the social accountability of linguistics and of linguists. Systemic theory is designed not so much to prove things as to do things. It is a form of praxis…. language …clearly reveals a dual function: it is at once, and inseparably, a means of action and a means of reflection. Linguistics, as metalanguage, has to serve the same twofold purpose. Systemic theory is explicitly constructed both for thinking with and for acting with. (CWH 3) “Language in a changing world” (1993/2003) There is no question that learners must have access to the dominant discourses of society; that is what education means. It would be a strange interpretation of social accountability to say that because you do not like these discourses you do not teach them to children and to migrants. This does not prevent you engaging in political action to change them. But there is another side to this: …our accountability to those peoples who are not, and never have been, part of the culture to which these dominant discourses belong… (CWH 3) “Is the grammar neutral? Is the grammarian neutral?” (2001/2003) Linguistic doings… different aspects of being a linguist,…not just “a matter of their degree of social commitment,… linguistic theory itself is dependent for its continued progress on such ongoing engagements with language. If language is social semiotic, we shall understand it better if we not only observe the text but also intrude in it.” “doing linguistics” was a highly political activity …. …linguistics was (like language itself) a mode of action, a way of intervening in social and political processes, and this has remained as a significant motif of work in systemic functional linguistics. “Language in a changing world” (Halliday 1993/2003) Linguistics Group of the British communist Party…in the 1950s, … we had to develop our own Marxist linguistics… but we were also aware that it had to be a socially accountable linguistics, …. Our party group was…trying to formulate linguistics which would …give value to the language of the “other”… The motif has remained constant, as the main ideological input to what evolved into systemic theory. The theory has never been neutral. (CWH 3) “Language in a changing world” (Halliday 1993/2003) Of course, much of what may seem at first sight to be “pure” research is highly political activity – and may be conceived of by the researcher as such; the difference often lies in the time depth, whether the political goal is concrete and immediate or more abstract and still some distance off. In any case, engaging with language on these different levels puts increased pressure on theoretical resources, pressure to which a socially accountable theory has to respond. (CWH 3) “Language in a changing world” (Halliday 1993/2003) It might be argued that, while these practices undoubtedly involve one in engaging with language, to do so does not require any abstract linguistic theory; such work can be done with an approach that is “theory-free”. This always has a very seductive appeal: it gives the impression that one is being objective. Unfortunately, however, this impression is false. There is no such thing as theory-free engagement with language, whether one is actively intervening in the linguistic practice of a community or systematically describing the grammar of a particular language. (CWH 3) Martin（2000） …in our post-modern world I don’t think we need to be afraid of social accountability any more. We know how to make theories that thrive on application and there’s no reason why we can’t keep designing better and better ones. We don’t have to wait to discover the whole truth before intervening… Halliday has all along stressed the importance of revising the theory in the course application Halliday, McIntosh & Strevens (1964: 139): the applications themselves are an important source of feedback: a theory is constantly re-examined in the light of ideas suggested in the course of its application Thompson & Collins (2001): “Interview with M.A.K. Halliday”, DELTA 17: 1 …so all the time we’ve moved out into new directions, new kinds of application, but there’s always been a significant feeding back into the theory. Matthiessen, forthcoming Martin (2008) ：Not many linguistics put their theory on the line and purposefully re/design it for the applications it needs to serve. In different phases of SFL: the dialectic of theory and practice Contextual theory Metafunctions Children language development Semantic variation … “Is the grammar neutral? Is the grammarian neutral?” (2001/2003) What matters here is the results of all these efforts are ongoingly fed back in to the theory, which has always evolved in the context of activities of this and other equally “practical” kinds. … to evolve a grammatics which will enable us to theorize language – and to describe languages – as resource: as a potential wherewith we construct experience and intervene in social processes. These two aspects are closely interconnected, in that on both counts language is understood to be an active participant, constructing and intervening rather than reflecting and conveying. This is language interpreted as social semiotic. (CWH 3) Starting from early 80s, Sydney School genre theory Complementarity of theory and practice in action research re-examination of ideas in the course of application Appraisal theory Martin and colleagues’ recent explorations into instantiation, individuation, affiliation and identity (Martin 2008) Interdisciplinary dialogue with Bernsteinian sociology The dialectic of theory and practice is what has been pushing SFL forward Halliday（2008: 203） A final complementarity might be that of theory and practice, or theory and application. In order to remain appliable, a theory needs to go on evolving, with ongoing conversation between these two positions. But these are not two different groups of people: it is a quality of a functional theory that many of its cast of actors act out the dialectic of theory and practice in the course of their own work. (Halliday 2008: 203) The dialectic of theory and practice Thank you. References Butler, C. S. Systemic Linguistics: Theory and Applications. London: Batsford, 1985. Halliday, M.A.K. Language as Social Semiotic: The Social Interpretation of Language and Meaning. London: Arnold, 1978. Halliday, M.A.K. Language in a changing world. Occasional Papers 13, Applied Linguistics Association of Australia. (reprinted in 2003, the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday Volume 3: On Language and Linguistics. London: Continuum.), 1993/2003. Halliday, M.A.K. Language in a social perspective. (reprinted in 2007, the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday Volume 10: Language and Society. London: Continuum.), 1971/2007. Halliday, M.A.K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar (2nd edition). London: Arnold, 1994. Halliday, M.A.K. On the grammar of pain. Functions of Language, 1998(5). Halliday, M.A.K. Computing meanings: some reflections on past experience and present prospects. Huang Guowen & Wang Zongyan (eds.). Discourse and Language Function. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2002. Halliday, M.A.K. An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd edition, revised by Christian Matthiessen). London: Arnold, 2004. Halliday, M.A.K. Complementarities in Language（《语言系统的并协与互补》）. Beijing: The Commercial Press, 2008. Halliday, M.A.K., A. McIntosh & P. Strevens. The Linguistic Sciences and Language Teaching. London: Longman, 1964. Martin, J.R. Grammar meets genre – reflections on the “Sydney School” . Arts: the journal of the Sydney University Arts Association, 2000(22). Martin, J.R. Positive discourse analysis: power, solidarity and change. Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 2004(49). Martin, J.R. Tenderness: Realisation and instantiation in a Botswanan town. Nina Nørgaard (ed.) Systemic Functional Linguistics in Use. Odense Working Papers in Language and Communication, 2008(29). Martin, J. R. & D. Rose. Working with Discourse: Meaning beyond the Clause (2nd edition). London: Continuum, 2007. Martin, J. R. & P. White. The Language of Evaluation: Appraisal in English. London: Palgrave, 2005. Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. Systemic Functional Linguistics — appliability: areas of research. Paper presented at the First Symposium on Functional Linguistics and Discourse Analysis. Sun Yat-sen University, 2006. Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. & M.A.K. Halliday. Systemic Functional Grammar: A First Step into the Theory (trans. Huang Guowen & Wang Hongyang). Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2009. Matthiessen, C. M. I. M. forthcoming. Systemic Functional Linguistics Developing, Annual Review of Functional Linguistics 2. Webster, J. Meaning in Context: Implementing Intelligent Applications of Language Studies. 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