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Appraising the two texts

 Appraising the two texts

In the excerpt which follows (Ex.1.1), sentences 1:1 to 1:12 of text1 are reproduced, and values of Attitude have been tagged. These sentences realise the first orthographically-signalled paragraph in the text. The use of colour to highlight different types of Attitude enables any regularities, or clustering of evaluative positioning to be observed. The framework itself will be presented in detail in section 3 below, but some idea of the nature of the text and its use of evaluative positioning in a type of meta-evaluative field can be gained by the first paragraph reproduced here.

Briefly stated, the system of Attitude is concerned to identify all types of evaluative assessments, either negative or positive, which may appear in texts. The framework recognises three sub-types of Attitude: Affect (concerned with assessments based on emotional responses), Judgement (concerned with assessments of human behaviour and social norms), and Appreciation (concerned with assessments of objects, events and artefacts in terms of aesthetic and social value). The framework also makes a distinction between those Attitudes which are inscribed or made explicitly, and those which may be implied, or activated in the text by other means (invoked). In addition, each subtype of Attitude recognises a variety of sub-categorisations. These appear in the excerpted analyses below, and will be used in later discussions of the two texts. Analysis is not complete when instances of Attitude are all coded, however. This represents the first step, after which the analysis is expanded to take note of the targets and sources of the Attitudes and their realisations from a discourse organisation perspective. All of the issues touched on above, will be taken up again in further detail in Sections 3 and 4 below, while findings based on analysis of a wider set of texts in presented elsewhere [note2]

Types of attitude:

Red = Affect 

Blue = Judgement

Green = Appreciation

Purple = double coded, or provoked/evoked Judgements

Example 1.1: excerpt from Text1:

1The concept of "task," has a rich history here[appreciation: valuation]. 2Not only is there a common sense meaning of task as the job to be done,[appreciation: valuation] but it is a technical term in Bion's group psychology. [appreciation: valuation: evoked via reference to valued discourse] 3I have been one to see task as analogy -- harking back to its roots in "tax" or an onerous tribute to be paid[appreciation: reaction: negative] [via contrast with next clause?]4In Bion, it has more positive [appreciation: valuation: positive]connotations, and being a work group in accomplishment of a task is not only healthy [appreciation: valuation: positive] but morally good[judgement: propriety: positive]5It is hard to mesh all this.[appreciation: composition: complexity: positive][judgement: capacity: negative?] 6I set out to work at the warehouse this morning. 7I will have a task, I suppose, [modalization: probability]or various ones. 8I must [modulation: obligation] unload some trucks. 9I must [modulation: obligation] aid the company in any legit way to help it make a profit[judgement: propriety: positive: provoked: via series of obligations + legit way]10I must [modulation: obligation] fit myself into the sometimes odd[appreciation: reaction: quality: negative] social scheme there[judgement: tenacity: positive: provoked: via graduation and repetition]11My goal, however, [counter-expect: retro]for this day is to have as pleasant and as delightful [appreciation: reaction: quality]a day as I can [modalization: ability][judgement: tenacity: provoked: via Appreciation of his identified goal] -- to tell no lies, hurt no one on purpose, and be a good citizen [judgement: propriety]while squeezing the best out of whatever situation I may encounter.[judgement: tenacity: positive: provoked - from sentence 6 on] 12Out of this fluid [appreciation: complexity]plan for the day, one that will most likely[modalization: probability] materialize, which activities constitute 'tasks.'[rhetorical question]

This example shows one pattern immediately: a lack of red - no values of Affect are apparent in this section of the text. Moreover, Judgement (evaluation of human behaviour), is always made in the environment of Appreciation (evaluation of 'objects' - see below section 3). So that, it would appear that this writer is concerned to evaluate without the use of any inscribed Affect, and that Judgement is perhaps justified by reference to Appreciation of states of affairs and products of human endeavour.

Going one step further than merely identifying instances of attitude involves an examination of what the targets of these evaluations are - who or what is being evaluated, and investigating how this figures in the development of the role relationships being construed in the text overall - and hence the ideological alignments that seem to be legitimated in this way. The ways in which appraisal analysis may be used to investigate positioning and persona in this way is extended in Chapters 4 and 5 of the thesis (Don 2007). In the excerpt above, while the overall target of the evaluation is the "nature of task", the writer uses examples from his own worklife to make positive Judgements about himself. Moreover, both texts rely to a large extent on invoked or implied appraisal - values of Attitude that contrast with attitudes which are made explicitly, or inscribed in the text. Purple highlighting used to draw attention to invoked instances of attitude is also used to draw attention to instances of 'ambiguous' evaluation - propositions whose exact targets or evaluative positioning with respect to those targets, cannot be determined with certainty through lexicogrammatical features alone. The topic of invoked or implied appraisal will be addressed again below in section 3.3.3, but briefly stated, Appraisal values can be invoked in two ways: through either provoked or evoked Appraisal. These depend on either Engagement values (section 2.3) in the immediate co-text to 'provoke' an attitude, or local value systems 'evoked' by experiential meanings.

In Example 1.1 above, the colour patterning suggests that this paragraph is composed of two broad rhetorical text units, or phases (Gregory 1985), with the transition phase occurring at 1:5 - at which point the evaluative function of It is hard to mesh all this remains ambiguous. In this clause there appears to be some evaluation being made, but the exact position of the Addresser in relation to all this is not clear. 

This type of ambiguity in positioning can be regarded as a textual strategy (akin to the use of ideational and interpersonal metaphor), in which propositions with either ambiguous or implied evaluative positions are marked in co-text, and may act to 'articulate', or provide transition points in the development of the text's organisation. By using the term 'strategy', I do not imply that these are necessarily conscious acts on the part of the writer, but that such moves realise strategies for text organisation that are 'picked up', or responded to on the part of the reader.

Because a reader may need to, unconsciously perhaps, spend more time processing such a proposition due to its very ambiguity, I suggest that these types of clauses in which evaluative positioning is unclear act as 'speed bumps' in the development of the text's organisation. Macken-Horarik takes such a view one step further:

...within texts, it's implicitly evaluative meanings that are most coercive of the reader simply because they appear to pass beneath the threshold of conscious awareness. (2003: 314)

One observation that analysis has provided is that both provoked and evoked Appraisal appear in both texts at regular intervals, and generally in the penultimate sentence of each paragraph (their proposed function in the rhetorical organisation of texts in general, and this e-list interaction in particular is set out below in sections 1.4 and 4 below, and expanded in Don 2007). The colour-coding of the two texts also allows a visual comparison of the preferred attitudinal values used by each writer. The most conspicuous difference seems to be in the appearance of values of Affect. Example 1.2 below gives an idea of how the patterning apparent in the first paragraph of text2 differs from that used in text1 above.

Example 1.2: excerpt from Text2:

2I'm glad [affect: happiness]you answered Roy's question because it is obvious [modalization: probability]that I need information.[judgement: capacity: negative: evoked?] 3I do feel 'under the microscope'[affect: insecurity: provoked?] as any new member is going to feel, and be, in any group (not just the Web). [judgement: normality]4In my expectation to be targeted, I had anticipated [affect: disinclination: via the following expectations of negative emotions directed at herself]\\ curiosity,[affect: inclination] fear,[affect: disinclination] jealousy,[affect: insecurity] among others, but [counter-expect]not [neg-pol]suspicion,[affect: insecurity] and particularly [graduation: focus]of my identity.... this is, in my experience, unique [graduation: focus]to the Web.[judgement: normality: negative] 5As for stating your suspicions or doubts, I value honesty [affect: satisfaction]in communication and would rather [modulation: inclination]hear your fear, suspicion or doubt [affect: insecurity]directly [graduation: focus]than to hear their echoes in all [graduation: force]of our exchanges or in the poverty [appreciation: composition: negative]of our exchange.[judgement: propriety: provoked: via positive evaluation of honesty and negative evaluation of exchange otherwise] 6I usually[modalization: usuality] find that exchanges between two people are largely[graduation: focus] superficial [appreciation: composition: negative]until they risk the truth [judgement: tenacity]of their feelings and thoughts toward each other. 7Roy got the brunt of my indignation [affect: dissatisfaction]because he was trying to be honest about his perceptions of me.[judgement: veracity]

Whereas text1 as a whole reveals the use of Affect in only two (significant) positions - in the middle and at the end of the text (c.f whole text in Appendix), the writer of text2 has employed values of Affect throughout. Example 1.2 above demonstrates this contrast immediately, and shows how Appraisal analysis can reveal stylistic differences in the type, and amount of evaluation used, as well as the dispersion of such values in textual organisation. This may be done with single texts, but more revealingly, in collections of texts representative of specific writers or groups of writers. In sections 3 and 4 below, such values and patterns of Appraisal in the two texts will be discussed in more detail.

In these 2 short excerpts it can be seen, however, that the opening paragraph of text2 does have some similarity with that of text1, since it also appears to be comprised of two broad rhetorical units, whose juncture is marked by the transition from values of Judgement and Affect, to values which also include Appreciation (highlighted in green). This transition, at sentence 2:5, also includes a token of provoked negative [judgement: propriety]. The nature of provoked Appraisal means that negative Judgement, or threat of sanction, can target unnamed individuals and use no inscribed evaluative positioning of behaviour (Judgement) at any specific point in the proposition under focus. I have treated such interpersonal junctures in texts as signaling a phase shift (Gregory, 1985), and these instances of marked or ambiguous evaluative acts are often accompanied by other markers of prospection and/or encapsulation. A short survey on the use of these signals in mapping text organisation is presented in Don 2007. Meanwhile, further examination of the texts from which the above examples were taken is discussed below in section 3.3.3 on provoked and evoked Appraisal.

Analysed texts to which references are made in the course of this module, appear in the Appendices as Text1- Simon, and Text2 - Sarah (appendix1). Tables which summarise the Attitudinal values identified in the two texts are also included in the Appendix as Table 1- SIMON, and Table 2 - SARAH (appendix2). source:

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