no precise meaning?

Robert de Beaugrande beaugrande at BEAUGRANDE.COM
Thu Jul 5 14:50:00 UTC 2007

I am disconcerted to read that “/field, mode /and /tenor/ (also 
mentioned by Federico) have no precise meaning at all”
I have here before me a 300 page book entitled Register Analysis by SFL linguists (including Jim Martin), -- just the wheeze for whoever ‘wants to know what "register" means exactly in the different schools ofSFL” -- where one can read (quoted in my piece, BTW)

“field refers to institutional setting” and hence to “the type of social action”; “tenor refers to the relationship between participants; and mode refers to the channel of communication” (pp. 12f). I go on to remark that the three terms may have been proposed as categories for describing situations rather than language per se”, (which remands me a bit of Malinowski, had he not been originally affected by the folk psychology of Wilhelm Wundt.)

My problem with these three terms is that each has several other less technucal meanings which can invite confusion, as we see. 

PS I see SFL as a tool for CDA, not a competitor, but in my New Introduction of 2004 I have extensively revised the terminology for just this reason.

PPS I wonder how far this purported anti-cognitivism of SFL is a heritage of J.R. Firth, who wrote:
We incur a ‘great handicap’ by ‘depending’ on ‘prior disciplines’, such as ‘logic, philosophy’, ‘psychology', ‘metaphysics’...
‘our studies of speech and language’, as well as our ‘educational methodology, have been dominated far too much by psychology and logic’; ‘individual psychology’ ‘emphasizes’ ‘incommunicable’ ‘experience’...

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