Re: [xmca] Beyond Alterity/Intersubjectivity

From: bb (
Date: Thu Aug 24 2006 - 06:21:18 PDT

Text is a whole exchange often writ large -- like the entire transcript of a lesson or a day, or that of going to the principals office, or a presidential speech, or, possibly your email message, but better yet, the present discussion. A lot of Halllidays work is on written text, such as a physics article, -- I vaguely recall that he was influenced by
bakhtin, and perhaps other scholars can help here. I recall that Jay Lemke gave a response to post by David K about Halliday a few years ago that was informative -- It was easy to findwith google and here's the url:

Yeah, here's an article that provides some overview:

gotta be short -- paid work to do.


 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Steve Gabosch <>
> Thanks bb, I found quoted explanation of
> instantiation very helpful (climate is to weather
> as a language system is to text). How does this
> use of the term "text" relate to Bakhtin's use of the term "utterance"?
> - Steve
> At 02:06 AM 8/24/2006 +0000, you wrote:
> >I don't read the passage centered on p28 quite
> >in the same way -- and following Halliday's
> >reasoning, I don't think it is the ideal of
> >culture that is material and social, but the
> >instantiation of culture -- Hopi and Navaho
> >being two instantiations. In this passage, in
> >this book, Halliday and Matthiessen are more
> >concenred with the grammatical dimensions of
> >language (Introduction to functional grammar),
> >so the focus is specifically narrowed and,
> >hence, seems to suffer some distortion,
> >especially if trying to relate this content to
> >development -- of language and social relations,
> >for example. Below, the authors make the claim
> >"Most texts in adult life do not relate directly
> >to the objects and events in their environment",
> >and the "adult" must certainly be emphasized as
> >texts produced and read by children in early
> >stages of literacy can be quite different
> >(picture books arguably provide their own
> >environment). For reading Halliday on
> >development of language and social relat!
> > ions, I
> > find his book "Learning how to mean" to be far better.
> >
> >Anyway, text makes it's own context --
> >sentences in one section are read in cohesive
> >relation to others, so it's important to
> >understand instantiation through the whole
> >passage, which I've scanned and appears
> >below. This did not take but a minute. Images
> >and tables don't appear, but at least there is a reasonable chunk of the whole.
> >
> >When we say that language is stratified in this
> >way, we mean that this is how we have to model
> >language if we want to explain it. A language is
> >a series of redundancies by which we link our
> >ecosocial environment to nonrandom disturbances
> >in the air (soundwaves). Each step is, of
> >course, masterminded by the brain. The
> >relationship among the strata — the process of
> >linking one level of organization with another
> >— is called realization.* Table 1(5) presents
> >this model from the point of view of the speaker
> >— it is hard to present it in a way that is
> >neutral between speaking and listening. Figure
> >1-10 represents the stratal organization of
> >language, and shows how the stratified
> >linguistic system is 'embedded' in context (cf.
> >Halliday, 1978; Halliday and Hasan, 1985; Martin, 1992).
> >
> >1.3.4 Instantiation
> >When we want to explain how language is
> >organized, and how its organization relates to
> >the function it fulfills in human life, we often
> >find it difficult to make things clear; and this
> >is because we are trying to maintain two
> >perspectives at once. One perspective is that of
> >language as system; the other perspective is that of language as text.
> >
> >The concept we need here is that of
> >instantiation. The system of a language is
> >'instantiated' in the form of text. A text may
> >be a trivial service encounter, like ordering
> >coffee, or it may be a momentous event in human
> >history, like Nelson Mandela's inaugural speech;
> >in either case, and whatever its intrinsic
> >value, it is an instance of an underlying
> >system, and has no meaningful existence except
> >as such. A text in English has no semiotic
> >standing other than by reference to the system
> >of English (which is why it has no meaning for
> >you if you do not know the language).
> >The system is the underlying potential of a
> >language: its potential as a meaning-making
> >resource.** This does not mean that it exists
> >as an independent phenomenon: there are not two
> >separate objects, language as system and
> >language as a set of texts. The relationship j
> >between the two is analogous to that between the
> >weather and the climate (cf. Halliday, 1992b).
> >Climate and weather are not two different
> >phenomena; rather, they are the same phenomenon
> >seen from different standpoints of the observer.
> >What we call 'climate' is weather seen from a
> >greater depth of time — it is what is
> >instantiated in the form of weather. The weather
> >is the text: it is what goes on around us all
> >the time, impacting on, and sometimes
> >disturbing, our daily lives. The climate is the
> >system, the potential that underlies these variable effects.
> >
> >* With a primary semiotic system, like the
> >infant protolanguage, consisting only of content
> >and expression, we could still use the word
> >'express'. But with a higher order
> >(multistratal) semiotic this is no longer
> >appropriate; we could not really say that
> >wording 'expresses' meaning. Hence the use of a distinct technical term.
> >** This use of 'system' is thus different from
> >— although related to — its meaning as a
> >technical term in the grammar (Section 1.3.2
> >above). The system in this general sense is
> >equivalent to the totality of all the specific
> >systems that would figure in a comprehensive network covering every stratum.
> >
> >Why then do we refer to them as different
> >things? We can see why, if we consider some
> >recent arguments about global warming; the
> >question is asked: is this a long-term weather
> >pattern, or is it a blip in the climate? What
> >this means is, can we explain global warming in
> >terms of some general theory (in this case, of
> >climatic change), or is it just a set of similar
> >events? An analogous question about language
> >would be if we took a corpus of, say, writings
> >by political scientists and asked, are these
> >just a set of similar texts, or do they
> >represent a sub-system of the language? The
> >climate is the theory of the weather. As such,
> >it does have its own separate existence — but
> >(like all theoretical entities) it exists on the
> >semiotic plane. It is a virtual thing. Similarly
> >with the system of language: this is language as
> >a virtual thing; it is not the sum of all
> >possible texts but a theoretical entity to which
> >we can assign certain properties and which we can invest with conside!
> > rable e
> >xplanatory power.
> >
> >System and text are thus related through
> >instantiation. Like the relationship between
> >climate and weather, the relationship between
> >system and text is a cline — the cline of
> >instantiation (Figure 1-11). System and text
> >define the two poles of the cline — that of
> >the overall potential and that of a particular
> >instance. Between these two poles there are
> >intermediate patterns. These patterns can be
> >viewed either from the system pole as
> >sub-systems, or from the instance pole, as
> >instance types. If we start at the instance
> >pole, we can study a single text, and then look
> >for other texts that are like it according to
> >certain criteria. When we study this sample of
> >texts, we can identify patterns that they all
> >share, and describe these in terms of a text
> >type. By identifying a text type, we are moving
> >along the cline of instantiation away from the
> >text pole towards the system pole. The criteria
> >we use when we compare the texts in our sample
> >could, in principle, come from any of t!
> > he stra
> >ta of language — as long as they are
> >systematic and explicit. However, research has
> >shown that texts vary systematically according
> >to contextual values: texts vary according to
> >:he nature of the contexts they are used in.
> >Thus recipes, weather forecasts, stock market
> >reports, rental agreements, e-mail messages,
> >inaugural speeches, service encounters in the
> >local deli, news bulletins, media interviews,
> >tutorial sessions, walking tours in a guide
> >book, gossip during a tea break, advertisements,
> >bedtime stories and all the other innumerable
> >text types we meet in life are all ways of using
> >language in different contexts. Looked at from
> >the system pole of the cline of instantiation,
> >they can be interpreted as registers. A register
> >is a functional variety of language (Halliday,
> >1978) — the patterns of instantiation of the
> >overall system associated with a given type of
> >context (a situation type).* These patterns of
> >instantiation show up quantitatively as adjustments in the syst!
> > emic pr
> >obabilities of language; a register can be
> >represented as a particular setting of systemic
> >probabilities. For example, the future tense is
> >very much more likely to occur in weather
> >forecasts than it is in stories (for examples of
> >quantitative profiles of registers, see Matthiessen, 2002b, in press a).
> >
> >
> >*Here, the term 'register' thus refers to a
> >functional variety of language. It has also been
> >used in a related, but different way, to refer
> >to the contextual values associated with such a
> >functional variety (see Martin, 1992; cf. Matthiessen, 1993).
> >
> >If we now come back to the question of
> >stratification, we can perhaps see more clearly
> >what it means to say that the semantic stratum
> >is language interfacing with the non-linguistic
> >(prototypically material) world. Most texts in
> >adult life do not relate directly to the objects
> >and events in their environment. Mandela's text
> >was highly abstract, and even when he talked
> >about the soil of this beautiful country and the
> >jacaranda trees of Pretoria, it is very unlikely
> >that he could actually see them at the time.
> >They were not a part of the setting in that
> >instance. Nevertheless, the meanings that are
> >realized by these wordings, and the meanings
> >realized by an extraordinary human disaster and
> >humanity's belief in justice are, ultimately,
> >construals of human experience; and when we now
> >read or listen to that text we are understanding
> >it as just that. Interfacing with the ecosocial
> >environment is a property of language as system;
> >it is also, crucially, a feature of those instances !
> > through
> > which small children come to master the
> > system; but it is not something that is
> > re-enacted in every text. Experience is
> > remembered, imagined, abstracted, metaphorized
> > and mythologized — the text has the power to
> > create its own environment; but it has this
> > power because of the way they system has
> > evolved, by making meaning out of the environment as it was given.
> >
> >As grammarians we have to be able to shift our
> >perspective, observing now from the system
> >standpoint 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. A corpus is a large
> >collection of instances — of spoken and
> >written texts; the corpuses now available
> >contain enough data to give significantly new
> >insights into the grammar of English, provided
> >the data can be processed and interpreted. 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. Writing a
> >description of a grammar entails constant
> >shunting between the perspective of the system
> >and the perspective of the instance. We have
> >tried in this edition to take account of the new
> >balance that has arisen as a result of data
> >becoming accessible to grammarians in sufficient qu!
> > antity
> >for the first time in the two and a half millennia history of the subject.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >From: "Kellogg" <>
> >To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <>
> >Subject: Re: [xmca] Beyond Alterity/Intersubjectivity
> >Date: Wed, 23 Aug 2006 23:49:28 +0000
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