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[Xmca-l] Re: Fwd: [Rstlist] RST versus issue trees?


What happens to an "issue tree" when a branch breaks, either because the
wind is too strong or the branch is too long? Here are some
non-metaphorical examples of what I mean, taken directly from the links you

"There are some well known indicators that expressed thought has a
branching structure. The outline, for example, and the nesting of blog
comments are both tree structures. There are also various so-called “mind
mapping” techniques. My discovery is that this structure is precise, well
defined and universal.Actually it is not quite this simple because
sometimes a statement will refer to a body of prior statements rather that
a single one, but that is an advanced topic. The real question is, how is
this useful to know?"

There are some not very well known indicators that the author is being a
sloppy thinker here. For example, an outline is actually a list. It can be
nested, but it isn't always. And nesting isn't always an example of
branching structure (it's usually an example of embedding, which is
something quite different). "Mind-mapping" can include branching
and nesting, but the original idea was that it was supposed to include
everything, whether connected or not, and then you clear away things that
are not connected.

Our author doesn't clear away any of this. To his credit, though, he does
hesitate a little over the sheer audacity of "My discovery...".  But then
he provides us with the classic business-school fake-out: I know the
answer, but it's too advanced for you; it's for my high-paying customers.
Here's a question you Art of the Deal 101 types really WILL care about: how
can I USE this? Since we are not business school types, but academics, we
might consider this as his answer:

"For some time I have been working on a basic model of scientific progress
(or, since “progress” is a value-loaded term, a model of how science

Now, you can see that the material in parentheses is indeed an answer to a
question which the imaginary interlocutor might have about the first
clause, to wit:

"What the hell do you mean, progress? You call this progress?"

We shall leave aside, for the moment, the naïve assumption that words like
"model", "scientific", "working", and even "for some time" are not value
loaded in precisely the same way. You can certainly see that his idea
that turning a noun into a verb makes it less value-loaded is risible.

I think RST is a much more serious approach, Ed. The problem that David
Wojick is TRYING to address with his sloppy thinking is a key one: it's
Vygotsky's genetic law ""How does communication lead to
co-generalization?"), the problem Bernstein raised ("How does the outside
become the inside?" which is actually a NON-dualist question), and an
essential problem of speech development in children ("How does dialogue
become narrative, in artistic thinking, and how do verbalized perceptions
give rise to hierarchies of invisible concepts"?).

So for example:


BEAST: "I'm ugly."
BELLA: "Yes, you are. But you are gentle."


BEAST: "I'm ugly, but I'm gentle.


BEAST: "Despite my ugliness (for all ill-proportioned countenance), I am
capable of tenderness."

Now, you can see that something has turned into something else (a turn has
become a clause, and a clause has become a nominalization). You can see
this is related to the formation of concepts that can be taxonomized,
classified, and made volitionally accessible. But you can also see that
describing exactly how it happens requires a grammatical model, and not
just a set of Trump U. truisms.

That's why Christian Matthiessen combined the original RST (which he
collaborated on with Bill Mann) with systemic functional grammar. What's
really happening here is grammatical metaphor. Just as a "tree" is a
LEXICAL metaphor for branching in dialogue, a nominalization becomes a
GRAMMATICAL metaphor for a clause. This grammatical metaphor is what
Vygotsky really means when he says that "word meaning develops".

David Kellogg
Macquarie University

On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 3:17 AM, Edward Wall <ewall@umich.edu> wrote:

> David
>      You have, perhaps, thought about this far more than I.  Any comments.
> Ed
> > Begin forwarded messagexc
> >
> > From: David Wojick <dwojick@craigellachie.us>
> > Subject: [Rstlist] RST versus issue trees?
> > Date: April 12, 2017 at 11:46:09 AM CDT
> > To: rstlist@listserv.linguistlist.org
> >
> >
> > My interest in the RST list is that I have developed a method that does
> something like RST, but is different, so I want to discuss it with the RST
> group. It is called the issue tree.
> > See https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2013/07/10/the-
> issue-tree-structure-of-expressed-thought/
> >
> > My impression is that RST (about which I know little) is based on a
> relatively small constructed taxonomy of relations between "spans" of text.
> See http://www.sfu.ca/rst/01intro/intro.html for a listing of these
> relations.
> >
> > Issue tree theory has no such taxonomy. It is based on the following
> fundamental observation:
> >
> > With certain important exceptions, every sentence in a text (except the
> first) is answering a specific question posed to a specific prior sentence.
> >
> > Thus the set of relations between sentences is the set of all possible
> questions. The tree structure occurs because more than one question can be
> asked of a given sentence and this frequently occurs. The questions are
> often quite simple, such as how?, why?, such as?, what evidence?, etc.
> >
> > For example consider this string of sentences: We have to go. The cops
> are coming. Use the back door.
> >
> > The second sentence is answering the question why? of the first, while
> the third sentence is answering the question how? of the first. This is a
> simple issue tree.
> >
> > Note that these are reasoning relations, not rhetorical relations.
> >
> > When there are many sentences, as in a journal article, the issue tree
> can be difficult to grasp just by reading the string of sentences. Here the
> issue tree diagram becomes useful. One can see the reasoning. One can also
> measure it in various useful ways.
> >
> > Also the RST analysis looks to be applicable only to individual
> documents, while any set of documents on a given topic will have a unique
> combined issue tree structure. Moreover, the issue tree can be scaled to
> show just the reasoning relations between documents rather than sentences.
> Let's say we have 400 recent journal articles on a given topic, which is a
> fairly typical number. An issue tree diagram of a few thousand nodes could
> show the collective reasoning that ties this corpus together. The state of
> the reasoning, as it were. The technology is pretty powerful.
> >
> > I welcome your thoughts.
> >
> > David
> >
> > David Wojick, Ph.D.
> > https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/author/dwojick/
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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