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Book: The Language Dynamic

Chapter: Stratification, Redundancy, the Mechanism of Change

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44589


In Chapter 4 we revisit the conception of stratification in order to illustrate that an open, dynamic and cyclical system must be stratal and that the relationship between strata must be realisational. We specifically examine the relationship between the higher semantic stratum and the lower lexicogrammatical stratum and suggest a modification to the content expression boundary. Our arguments are grounded in a close textual and prosodic analysis of a short political statement. We show that slippage between strata leads to creativity and illustrate how the use of explicit objective interpersonal meanings rearticulates meanings. This is a topic we will examine further in a follow up companion volume, where we will argue that such rearticulations are a major driver in ideological formations such as populist discourse. The opening part reintroduces metafunctional meaning (discussed in chapters 2 and 3) in order to illustrate how a text is simultaneously the aggregate of particulate, prosodic and wave-like meaning-bearing elements. We conduct a close textual analysis and examine the choices made in field, tenor and mode. Our analysis includes both lexicogrammar and prosody. We note that recombinations of lexicogrammar and prosody have the effect of shifting experiential-like meanings into prosodic interpersonal meanings. We further note that while many of the prosodic choices were predicted by the lexicogrammar and hence redundant others were not. The recombination of prosody and lexicogrammar in order to realise a thought illustrates how the realignment of by the chapter reviewing both Halliday’s and Hjelmslev’s notions of stratification in order to explicate the bidirectional nature of realisation between higher and lower strata.

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