This is a presentation by Emeritus Professor MAK Halliday, given at the Connecting Paths: Halliday, Hasan and Lamb conference, at Sun-Yat Sen University in November 2010. A version of this paper was also presented at the Halliday Centre at City University, Hong Kong, as part of this event. The video is uploaded with the permission of Professor Chang Chenguang, at SYSU, and with permission of the speaker. The conference website is here, where abstracts for the talks can be found:
Reconnecting Paths: Relational Network Theory and Systemic Functional Theory as Complementary Perspectives on Language
Professor M.A.K. Halliday (University of Sydney)
In the 1960s, I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Sydney Lamb, and collaborating with him in his research projects first at Berkeley, in machine translation, and then at Yale where he was developing his ideas in what he was then calling stratificational linguistics. Our ideas on language were entirely compatible, and at variance with the then prevailing Chomskian view of language as a set of sentence generating rules – a determinable formal system with the principles of grammar instated in the human brain. Since that time, our research has followed different paths, because we have been asking different questions and have committed ourselves to different intellectual tasks. But having re-engaged with Sydney Lamb’s recent work, the context of which has been revolutionized by advances in neuroscience, I have the same sense of shared premises and a common framework of ideas. In this paper I raise a number of questions regarding the representation, in relational network theory, of some general explanatory principles that are central to the “appliable” character of systemic functional theory, and attempt to bring out some of the respects in which Lamb’s work and mine can be said to be mutually supportive.