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Transcript of Halliday-Hasan Lectures:
Words - and even more so, perhaps, phrases, sentences and texts - taken in conjunction with other types of behaviour, constitute extremely significant documents and commentaries. But there is nothing more dangerous than to imagine that language is a process running parallel and exactly corresponding to mental process, and that the function of language is to reflect or to duplicate the mental reality of man in a secondary flow of verbal equivalents (Malinowski 1935: 7).
The Course in General Linguistics
Language and Ideology
Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Language and Ideology Day 2
On day 2, we will look at the origins of the concept of ideology in linguistics, and consider how different schools of linguistic theory envision the concept of ideology, and the relations of language and ideology. I will then discuss the scholars described by Halliday as his “ideological antecedents”, such as Saussure, Malinowski, Whorf, Hjelmslev, Firth and Bernstein. We will look at how these scholars, most of whom did not write directly about ideology, are important to understanding and describing ideology in general, and specific ideologies at work.
J.R. Firth (1890-1960)
The force and cogency of most language behaviour derives from the firm grip it has on the ever-recurrent typical situations in the life of social groups, and the normal social behaviour of the human animals living together in those groups. Speech is the telephone network, the nervous system of our society much more than the vehicle for the lyrical outbursts of the individual soul. It is a network of bonds and obligations (Firth 1964: 113).
"... lie not in the formal grammars and truth-conditional semantics of the latter part of the century, but in a more functionally-oriented linguistics: that of Sapir and Whorf, Malinowski and Firth, Bühler, Mathesius and Trubetzkoy, Hjelmslev, Benveniste and Martinet, among many others" (Halliday 2003: 423)
Halliday's "ideological antecedents":
Bernstein, B. (1990). Education, symbolic control and social practices. In (pp. 133-164). London: Routledge.
de Saussure, F. (1974). Course in General Linguistics (W. B. Baskin, Wade, Trans.). London: Fontana/Collins.
de Saussure, F. (2006). Writings in General Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Firth, J. R. (1957). Papers in Linguistics: 1934-1951. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Firth, J. R. (1968). Selected Papers of J. R. Firth, 1952-59 (F. R. Palmer, Trans.). London: Longmans.
Halliday, M. A. K. (2003). On language in relation to the evolution of human consciousness. In J. J. Webster (Ed.), On Language and Linguistics: Volume 3 in the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday (pp. 390-432). London and New York: Continuum.
Halliday, M. A. K. (2003). On the architecture of human language. In J. Webster (Ed.), On Language and Linguistics: Volume 3 in the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday (pp. 1-29). London and New York: Continuum.
Vološinov, V. N. (1973). Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (L. Matejka, & I. R. Titunik, Trans.). New York: Seminar Press.
Whorf, B. (1956). Language, Thought, and Reality: Selected writings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Without signs, there is no ideology ... The domain of ideology coincides with the domain of signs. They equate with one another. Wherever a sign is present, ideology is present, too. Everything ideological possesses semiotic value (Vološinov 1973: 9, 10).
"The word is the ideological phenomenon par excellence" (Vološinov 1973: 13)
"Every ideological sign is not only a reflection, a shadow, or reality, but
is also itself a material segment of that every reality
. Every phenomenon functioning as an ideological sign has some kind of material embodiment, whether in sound, physical mass, color, movements of the body or the like" (Vološinov 1973: 13; emphasis added).
Vološinov's critique of "idealism" and "psychological positivism"
Vološinov "Marxism and the Philosophy of Language"
... rejects Marx's view of both language and ideology
... but deeply grounded in Marx's view of consciousness as a function of lived experience
Vološinov's discourse on ideology took him to the problem of consciousness
Idealism - wrongly locates the origins in some kind of transcendental place, "somewhere above existence and it determines the latter"
Psychological positivism - consciousness is "just a conglomeration of fortuitous, psychophysiological reactions which, by some miracle, results in meaningful and unified ideological creativity"
... the ideological ... cannot possibly be explained in terms of either of these superhuman or subhuman, animalian roots. Its real place in existence is in the special social material of signs created by man. Its specificity consists precisely in its being located between organized individuals, in its being the medium of their communication (Vološinov 1973:12)
What does Saussure say about "ideology"?
The Course published in 1916, based on lectures given from 1906 and 1911
How do words make meaning?
"war" v. "colonial aggression"
Two key characteristics of the sign
1. the sign relation is arbitrary
"indefinitely extending the range of 'meanable' things" (Halliday 2003: 14).
UN Definition of Aggression
You utter a vow or forge a signature and you may find yourself bound for life to a monastery, a woman (sic) or a prison. You utter another word and you make millions happy, as when the Holy Father blesses the faithful. Human beings will bank everything, risk their lives and substance, undertake a war or embark on a perilous expedition, because a few words have been uttered. The words may be the silly speech of a modern 'leader' or prime minister; or a sacramental formula, an indiscreet remark wounding 'national honour', or an ultimatum. But in each case words are equally powerful and fateful causes of action ... (Malinowski 1935: 52)
Malinowski (1884-1942) - language has power
"All our considerations have led us to the conclusion that words in their primary and essential sense do, act, produce and achieve. To arrive therefore at an understanding of meaning, we have to study the dynamic rather than the purely intellectual function of words" (Malinowski 1935: 52).
The origins of "metafunction", and including the "interpersonal' metafunction in Halliday come from Malinowski
in every community, among the Trobianders quite as definitely as among ourselves, there exists a belief that a word uttered in certain circumstances has a creative binding force; that with an inevitable cogency, an utterance produces its specific effect, whether it conveys a permanent blessing, or inflicts irreparable damage, or saddles with a longlife obligation (Malinowski 1935: 52-54).
Meaning is the effect of words on human minds and bodies and, through these, on the environmental reality as created or conceived in a given culture. Therefore imaginary and mental effects are as important in the realm of the supernatural as the legal effects of a formula are in a contractual phrase. There is no strict line of demarcation between the signature on a cheque, a civil contract of marriage, the sacramental vow on a similar occasion, the change of substance in the Holy Eucharist, and the repulsion of bush-pigs by means of a fictitious excrement. One of the contextual conditions for the sacred or legal power of words is the existence, within a certain culture, of beliefs, of moral attitudes and of legal sanctions.
Since it is best to investigate every phenomenon in its most pronounced form, let us enquire where the dynamism of words is most pronounced. A little consideration will show that there are two peaks of this pragmatic power of words: one of them is to be found in certain sacred uses, that is in magical formulae, sacramental utterances, exorcisms, curses and blessings and most prayers. All sacred words have a creative effect, usually indirect, by setting in motion some supernatural power, or, when the sacramental formula becomes quasi-legal, in summoning social sanctions.
The second climax of speech dynamism is to be found obviously in the direct pragmatic effect of words. An order given in battle, an instruction issue by the master of a sailing ship, a cry for help, are as powerful in modifying the course of events as any other bodily act ...
Are some forms of language more ideological than others?
Context of situation/ Context of culture
- the ubiquity of language
Firth's linguistics is "monistic"
Basil Bernstein (1924-2000)
Whorf describes language as "an especially cohesive aggregate of cultural phenomena" (Whorf 1956l: 65), through which "raw experience" can be organized into "a consistent, readily communicable universe of ideas through the medium of linguistic patterns" (Whorf 1956b: 102).
language is intersubjective
Saussure's line of arbitrariness
How do words mean?
Saussure said you could write a whole book on a word and still not exhaust its meanings (Saussure 2006)
"the elucidation of the 'meaning' of a word does not happen in a flash, but is the result of a lengthy process" (Malinowski 1935: 44).
The United Nations spent 16 years developing this definition of aggression. It has not been used for the purpose for which it was written.
"A linguistic entity is unique in that it involves the association of two distinct elements" (WGL: 3)
it must be plastic: it must be free of the constraints of iconicity
but it must be deeply connected to human experience, since ideology is consequential for how we distribute resources in society
It must be "life-wide" - ubiquitous
it must be a 'reality generator', and at least some aspects of this process must be invisible so that linguistic constructions appear to us as just how things are
since ideologies are resistant to change, there must be stasis in the linguistic system
because ideologies can change, the linguistic system must be open to the eco-social environment (Lukin, forthcoming)
What must language be like if it is the engine room of ideology?
The linear character of the sign
Critiques of Saussure
1. Separation of
, with 'langue' considered the proper object of study in linguistics.
"... that science (i.e. a linguistics of speaking) must not be confused with linguistics proper, whose sole object is language" (Saussure 1974: 20)
The study of ideology must reconcile
Ideology at work - in process - is the voice of a dominating or legitimating principle. It must be a replicating "meme" to use Dawkins analogy, so that a novel instance of interaction is fused with an existing orientation to the selection and organization of meaning. (Lukin, forthcoming)
Halliday's "fundamental abstractions": reconciling language and parole
Nothing enters language without having been tested in speaking and every evolutionary phenomenon has its roots in the individual. (1974: 168)
Halliday? No Saussure.
Language retains only a minimal part of the creations of speaking, but those that endure are numerous enough to change completely the appearance of its vocabulary and grammar from one period to the next. (Saussure 1974: 169).
Language - and this concern surpasses all the others - is at every moment everybody's concern; spread throughout society and manipulated by it, language is something used daily by all ... in language ... everyone participates at all times, and that is why it is constantly influenced by all. (Saussure 1974: 74)
Writings in General Linguistics
, or indeed any other semiological system, is not a ship in dry dock, but a ship on the open sea (p. 202).
.... is above all
a system of values
Continuity encompasses change, which is a shift in values (p239)
"Actual parole and potential parole" (section 17)
... the realization of the language system come[s] from the act of language ... the language faculty is at one and the same time the constant application and generator of the language system ... reproduction and production
(Writings in General Linguistics 2006: 85)
"Ideology in the system and process of language" Hasan 2000; see also Hasan 1986
Linear characteristic of the sign
the 'syntagmatic axis'
"The Second Gulf War has begun."
The magical power of language
- anti dualism - continuity between inside and outside
- no separation of body and mind
- no separation of language and mind
- no separation of society, language and mind
"My own approach has always been based on an acceptance of the whole man (sic) in his patterns of living. ... The linguist has to reject most of these patterns, confining himself to the processes and patterns of life in which language 'text' is the central feature and operative force ... The linguist, in accepting the whole man in his cultural context, must ... assume that normal linguistic behaviour as a whole is meaningful effort, directed towards the maintenance of appropriate patterns of life" (Firth 1957: 225)
J.R. Firth (1890-1960)
restricted language = "register" in Halliday's theory
embedded in the matrix of living experience and the human body as the primary field of human expression and as continuous with the situations of life. Indeed, if we are fussily exact, we cannot define where the body begins and where what we erroneously call external nature ends. (Firth 1968d: 90-91)
Continuities - we are in the world and the world is in us
There is the element of habit, custom, tradition, the element of the past, and the element of innovation, of the moment, in which the future is being born. When you speak you fuse these elements in verbal creation, the outcome of your language and of your personality (Firth 1957a: 184).
Stasis and innovation in language patterns
"collocation" = we know a word by the company it keeps
the study of key-words, pivotal words, leading words, by presenting them in the company they usually keep - that is to say, an element of their meaning is indicated when their habitual word accompaniments are shown (Firth 1968a: 106-107).
collocation = not "mere juxtaposition" but "mutual expectancy"
Halliday's experiential function comes from Whorf's linguistics
significant behaviour ... is ruled by a specific system or organization, a "geometry" of form principles characteristic of each language. This organization is imposed from outside the narrow circle of the personal consciousness, making of that consciousness a mere puppet whose linguistic manoeuvrings are held in unsensed and unbreakable bonds of patterns (Whorf 1956: 257).
2 key principles from Whorf for the study of language
2. 'configurative rapport'
Logic is now what holds it together, and its logic becomes a semantic associate of that unity of which the CONFIGURATIVE aspect is a bundle of non-motor linkages mooring the whole fleet of words to their common reactance. Semantically it has become a deep persuasion of a principle behind phenomena, like the ideas of inanimation, of "substance", of abstract sex, of abstract personality, of force, of causation - not the overt concept (lexation) corresponding to the word causation but the covert idea, the "sensing", or, as it is often called (but wrongly, according to Jung), the "feeling" that there must be a principle of causation (Whorf 1956l: 81).
A cryptotype construes a "submerged, subtle, and elusive meaning, corresponding to no actual word, yet shown by linguistic analysis to be functionally important in the grammar" (Whorf 1956l: 71).
the relationship between the social structure and consciousness is mediated by discourse
Symbolic control is "the means whereby consciousness is given a specialized form and distributed through forms of communication which relay a given distribution of power and dominant cultural categories. Symbolic control translates power relations into discourse, and discourse into power relations" (Bernstein 1990: 134).
"It is not the shape/form of the ‘acoustic image’ that ‘produces’ the sign’s meaning: the meaning (the signified) is ‘in’ the morphology, i.e., created by the relations of all the signifieds in a given language" (Hasan 2014).
Language is ever on the move, pressed forward by its imposing machinery of negative categorization, wholly free of materiality, and thus perfectly prepared to assimilate any idea that may join those that have preceded it (Saussure, 1996: 51)
Power relations establish the "voice" of a category, by creating insulations. These insulations are "intervals, breaks, delocations, which establish categories of similarity and difference: the equal and the unequal; punctuations written by power relations that establish as the order of things distinct subjects through distinct voices. Indeed, insulation is the means whereby the cultural is transformed into the natural, the contingent into the necessary, the past into the present, the present into the future" (Bernstein 1990b 25).
... any meaning can be expressed in any language ... what is at issue is the social distribution of priviledged and privileging meanings, or more explicitly, the social distribution of dominant and dominated principles for the exploration, construction, and exchange of legitimate meanings, their contextual management, and their relation to each other (Bernstein 1990)
Code = semantic variation
Lampeter corpus: English 1640-1740
"... strong lexical nodes act as a 'magnet' for specific collocates. The node's inner nature supports predictions about what will go with what. The same is true of semantic features: a strong 'semantic node' will attract other predictable semantic features" (Hasan 2009: 447)
Australia 2015-2016 Corpus