Wednesday, January 31, 2007

In a galaxy far, far away...

Time has not been kind to Halliday's neo-Whorfian style, in which "the grammar" is reified as a mysterious cognitive agency responsible in part for shaping the speaker's experience not only of language but of the world. [...] For [Halliday's mentor] Firth, "systems" are set up by the linguist as a way of organizing metalinguistically the discussion of language and languages. Their construction is itself the principal "scientific" activity of the linguist; but it is an avowedly hocus-pocus activity. The "systems" are not, as Halliday seems naively to believe, objectively present in, even less constitutive of, the kinds of enterprise in which you and I - as readers and writer of a text - are, here and now, semiologically engaged.
Roy Harris, "The Grammar", TLS Nov 17 2006, p.31


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