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Jim Martin (Australia)

 

The volume is concluded in fine style by Jim MartinÕs[i] article Fair Trade: Negotiating Meaning In Multimodal Texts. Jim is professor of linguistics at the University of Sydney.  His research interests include systemic theory, functional grammar, discourse semantics, register, genre, multimodality and critical discourse analysis, focussing on English and Tagalog - with special reference to the transdisciplinary fields of educational linguistics and social semiotics.  His publications include English Text: system and structure (1992); Writing Science: literacy and discursive power (1993), written together with Michael A K Halliday; Working with Functional Grammar (1997), written together with Christian Matthiessen and Claire Painter; Genre and Institutions: social processes in the workplace and school (1997), edited together with Francis Christie; Reading Science: critical and functional perspectives on discourses of science  (1998), edited together with Robert Veel.

 

In his contribution he outlines some challenges for social linguistics for the new millennium. Speaking of the challenge of hybridity Š the multi-voicing of the post-colonial world, he calls for models of multilinguality (language, dialect, register and code), of multifunctionality (ideational, interpersonal and textual meaning), and of multimodality (verbiage, image, sound and action). This is a challenge which the systemic functional linguistics community has already begin to respond keenly to, and he refers to recent innovative work by central systemic functional scholars such as Michael Halliday, Gunther Kress and Theo van Leuwen, Michael OÕToole and Jay Lemke, which map multifunctionality in text across the two modalities of verbiage and image. But what of the relationship between the modalities of image and verbiage in multimodal texts when they are seen in terms of multifunctionality? JimsÕs answer is that to date, verbiage-image relations have been analysed in relation to the ideational and the textual metafunctions, but not in terms of the interpersonal. In his chapter Jim makes a first step in exploring the interpersonal dimension of verbiage-image relations, with a focus on evaluation. Verbiage-image relations can be used to treat naturalised reality (the ideational metafunction), social reality (the interpersonal metafunction) and semiotic reality (the textual metafunction). Within the framework of systemic functional linguistics, interpersonal meaning is realised through grammar and lexis, and includes both interactive and evaluative meaning. Evaluative meaning includes three main systems, attitude, engagement and graduation. Attitude focuses on consideration of affect, or emotional reactions, judgement, our ethical stance on behaviour, and appreciation, our aesthetic orientation to the world. Affect (feeling) is central, claims Jim, and socioculturally institutionalised as judgement and appreciation in contexts where social behaviour needs to be controlled, and things need to be attributed value relative to their social significance.

 

Jim develops his discussion of the ways in which aspects of evaluation are realised in image-verbiage configurations using a series of evocative materials from Nelson MandelaÕs Illustrated Long Walk to Freedom, and the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity CommissionÕs Bringing the Home: National Inquiry into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. Jim concludes his engaging study, and our volume, with the observation that verbiage/image relations play a vital role in aligning communities around shared values, in that a rhetoric of sensibility complements sense relations. As new directions for future study within this kind of framework he indicates the role of humour and irony in multimodal text, which seems to me a perfectly admirable direction to go! As he puts it: ŅEvaluation has our theories of semiosis under pressure; add in humour and irony and the pressure becomes extreme. And thatÕs what new frontiers of description are for.Ó

 

So on that optimistic and forward-looking note it remains only for me as editor to wish you the reader a pleasant, stimulating and hopefully also provoking read!

 

Bologna, Italy

July 2001

 



[i] Jim MartinÕs faculty homepage is at: http://www.arts.usyd.edu.au/departs/linguistics/ling/people/Jim_Martin.html and he may be contacted by e-mail at: <jmartin@mail.usyd.edu.au>

 


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