Language and value: the place of evaluation in linguistic theory
This thesis suggests that the way out of these difficulties is to rethink the meaning of 'theory' in linguistics. If we take the reflexivity of language seriously, building on M.A.K. Halliday's notion of 'linguistics as metaphor', we are reminded that a linguistic theory is made of language. Metalanguage must use the experiential and interpersonal meaning-making resources of everyday language. It follows that a linguistic theory cannot escape being evaluative, because evaluation is an inherent part of interpersonal meaning. If we fail to notice our own metalinguistic evaluation, this is because language disguises its evaluative meanings, or perhaps we are just not used to thinking of them as part of the grammar. To achieve clarity about the involvement of value in language, we need to turn our metalanguage back on itself - 'using the grammar to think with about the grammar'. Some ways of doing this are demonstrated here, turning the resources of systemic functional linguistics on linguists' own language. The circularity of this process should be seen not as a drawback but as a salutary reminder that linguistics is an interpretive rather than a discovery process. This knowledge should help us revalue language and make a place for evaluation in linguistic theory, paving the way for a socially responsible and productive linguistics.
School Location:South Africa
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:english language and linguistics
Date of Publication:01/01/2003