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[Xmca-l] Re: Roy Harris and Integrationist Linquistics

I must make a confession: I went through a period of infatuation with
integrationist linguistics, and as a result I have published articles as
recently as 2011 which embarrass me a little to read today (as I discovered
to my chagrin last week, when our class in Trends and Issues in ELT had to
read one of them!)

Let me offer some context. Larry's quote is about Critical Discourse
Analysis, which is a form of discourse analysis that draws heavily on
Halliday. My own teacher Widdowson has criticized CDA on grounds that are
not that different from Harris's: CDA approaches a text with a very decided
agenda in mind, and tends to "read off" a particular meaning from a text by
examining a few features which are held, on theoretical grounds only, to be

For example, let's say I have the following data from a role play by sixth
graders doing "The Ant and the Grasshopper" (This is from p. 65 of my book
"The Great Globe and All Who It Inherit", Sense 2014).

 Grasshopper: 랄랄라라~ (*singing gaily) *“lal-lal-la-la” sings gaily)

Old Ant:  저런 저런 것들이! 일하고 있는데! (“That so-and-so! And I’m trying to work!”)

Young Ant: 그러게요. 저런 놈들이 이 사회에 있으니까 이 사회가 드러워지는 거예요. (“You’re right. Because
of these jerks, our society is falling apart!”)

Grasshopper: 다 들린다, 하지 마라 (“I heard that! Cut it out! “)

Ss: (*nervous laughter*)

Fighter Ant:       니 지금 뭐라 캤노. (“You don’t know what you are talking

Ss: (*nervous laughter*)

Grasshopper (*laughing*): 갈 거면 가고, 안 갈거면 뜨자! (“Get out of here or come and
fight me!”)

Ss: (*laughter*)

Old Ant: 저런 배은망덕한 것들이 저런 저런 젊은 것들이 노인 공경을(.) 아악! (“These ungrateful things,
these young things attacking the old.…” Aaaak! (*The old ant is attacked.*)

Ss: (*laughter*)

Now, using CDA I would point out that the original Korean text tends to
omit subjects and modals, which--unlike the English translation--allows the
speakers to evade modal responsibility (in much the same way you do when
you say things like "the vase broke" instead of "I broke your vase").
Harris and Widdowson would point out that this ignores the other things
that must be integrated into a really empirical account of the data: how
the children DO take responsibility for their actions by embodying them, by
their facial expressions, by their gestures, etc.

And in 2011 I would have been totally bowled over by this argument. Now it
seems to me pretheoretical and ultra-empiricist. AND...not least...it
ignores an absolutely crucial and systemic fact about the language, which
is that Korean is a pro-drop language (in Chomskyan terms)--that is, like
Spanish, we normally omit the subject in contexts where it can be
understood easily. This is a fact about language as a system of functions;
it does not need to be recovered from an empirical analysis of the kind
Harris describes (e.g. Conversation Analysis procedures of the sort
developed by Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson).

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 22 December 2014 at 05:36, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:

> Peter Jones writes on intergrationist approaches to language and references
> Roy Harris:
> Here is Roy in his own words
> tOur position, in contrast with the practice of CDA, is that the
> identification of the communicational processes and strategies relevant to
> particular engagements, the understanding and interpretation of what the
> relevant or significant communicational forms, meanings and patterns are in
> a particular situation or event is something that emerges in the course of
> detailed empirical investigation of the relevant event in all its
> complexity. There is simply no method or procedure of discourse analysis to
> be applied short of this process of deciding what words mean in the course
> of interpretatively reconstructing an entire action or event to which the
> words contribute. Within the event itself there is no level or dimension of
> “discourse” as a self-contained, stable and iterable system of forms and
> meanings.
> The central focus is on *context* and every semiological *act* cannot be
> interpreted except in its specific situated context.
> I started a new thread as may not be of any interest to others