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The Outline of The three systems of Appraisal





In this section I will offer a relatively brief outline of the three appraisal sub-systems: ATTITUDE , ENGAGEMENT and GRADUATION . The purpose here is to give an overall sense of how the appraisal system is formulated and the types of semantic issues it equipped to deal with. A more detailed account of all the sub-systems will be provided in later sections, The practical objective of this section is to provide the basic text-analytical tools by which the three appraisal systems can be identified and distinguished.

Attitude

ATTITUDE includes those meanings by which texts/speakers attach an intersubjective value or assessment to participants and processes by reference either to emotional responses or to systems of culturally-determined value systems. ATTITUDE itself divides into three sub-systemsAFFECT : the characterisation of phenomena by reference to emotion
JUDGEMENT: the evaluation of human behaviour with respect to social norms
APPRECIATION : the evaluation of objects and products (rather than human behaviour) by reference to aesthetic principles and other systems of social value.


Affect

The general outlines of the grammar and semantics of affect are well understood. AFFECT is concerned with emotional response and disposition and is typically realised through mental processes of reaction (This pleases me, I hate chocolate, etc) and through attributive relationals of AFFECT (I'm sad, I'm happy, She's proud of her achievements, he's frightened of spiders, etc). Through ideational metaphor, they may, of course, be realised as nouns - eg His fear was obvious to all. Martin has developed a system for a fine-grained analyses of this semantic (See Martin 1997). I observe at this point, however, that values of affect occur as either positive or negative categories (love versus hate, please versus irritate, be bored versus be intrigued) and that each meaning is located along a sliding scale of force or intensity from low to high - thus like, love, adore; to be troubled by, the be afraid of, to be terrified of etc.


Judgement

The attitudinal sub-system of JUDGEMENT encompasses meanings which serve to evaluate human behaviour positively and negatively by reference to a set of institutionalised norms. Thus JUDGEMENT is involved when the speaker provides an assessment of some human participant with reference to that participant's acts or dispositions (The exposition here relies primarily on the work from the media project of the Disadvantaged Schools Program (DSP) detailed in Iedema, Feez and White 1994.) The social norms at risk with these JUDGEMENT assessments take the form of rules and regulations or of less precisely defined social expectations and systems of value. Thus, under JUDGEMENT we may assess behaviour as moral or immoral, as legal or illegal, as socially acceptable or unacceptable, as laudable or deplorable, as normal or abnormal and so on. The DSP materials propose two broad categories of JUDGEMENT and five narrower sub-types within these two categories, which will explored in a later section. Values can be realised as,adverbials - justly, fairly, virtuously, honestly, pluckily, indefatigably, cleverly, stupidly, eccentrically
attributes and epithets - a corrupt politician, that was dishonest, don't be cruel, she's very brave, he's indefatigable, a skilful performer, truly eccentric behaviour
nominals - a brutal tyrant, a cheat and a liar, a hero, a genius, a maverick
verbs - to cheat, to deceive, to sin, to lust after, to chicken out, to triumph

Like AFFECT, values of JUDGEMENT have either positive or negative status - virtuous versus immoral, honest versus deceitful, brave versus cowardly, smart versus stupid, normal versus weird.

Like AFFECT, meanings can be located on a sliding scale of force or intensity from low to high values - he's an OK player, a skilled player, a brilliant player

In such instances, the value of JUDGEMENT is explicitly expressed by means of a particular lexical choice - skilfully, corruptly, lazily etc. Following the DSP material, such are classed as `inscribed' expressions of JUDGEMENT since the evaluation is overtly `inscribed' in the text through the vocabulary choice. The picture is complicated, however, by the possibility that the JUDGEMENT assessment may be more indirectly evoked or implied - rather than explicitly inscribed - by what can be termed `tokens' of JUDGEMENT. Under such tokens, JUDGEMENT values are triggered by superficially neutral, ideational meanings which nevertheless have the capacity in the culture to evoke judgemental responses (depending upon the reader's social/cultural/ideological reader position). Thus a commentator may inscribe a JUDGEMENT value of negative capacity by accusing the government of `incompetence' or, alternatively, evoke the same value by means of a token such as `the government has not laid the foundations for long term growth'. The question of `tokens' of JUDGEMENT will be taken up when we return to JUDGEMENT in detail.
Exemplification: affect and judgement

I am disappointed [affect] and ashamed [affect] that two of our most admired and respected [affect] sportsmen could behave in such a manner. To play for your country is an honour and a privilege, not a right.

Those who are chosen to represent Australia should not only be talented [JUDGEMENT] but they should be above reproach [JUDGEMENT]. Sport is supposed to teach honour, fair play, teamwork, leadership and social skills [JUDGEMENT]. It is not supposed to "create" or support greed and egos [JUDGEMENT]. Gambling is not what we want our children to be learning from their heroes [JUDGEMENT] and mentors. [The West Australian - 11/12/98: 12, letter to the editor, Jennifer Black, Riverdale]


Appreciation: evaluating products and processes

APPRECIATION1 is the system by which evaluations are made of products and processes, It encompasses values which fall under the general heading of aesthetics, as well as a non-aesthetic category of `social valuation' which includes meanings such as significant and harmful. While JUDGEMENT evaluates human behaviours, APPRECIATION typically evaluates natural objects, manufactured objects, texts as well as more abstract constructs such as plans and policies. Humans may also be evaluated by means of APPRECIATION, rather than JUDGEMENT, when viewed more as entities than as participants who behave - thus, a beautiful woman, a key figure.

Values of APPRECIATION may focus on the compositional qualities of the evaluated entity - how well formed it is. For example - harmonious, symmetrical, balanced, convoluted. Or they may focus on the aesthetically-related reaction with which the entity is associated. That is, the APPRECIATION is formulated in terms of the entity's aesthetic impact - for example, arresting, captivating, boring, dreary, beautiful, lovely etc

Like both AFFECT and JUDGEMENT, values of APPRECIATION have either positive or negative status- harmonious versus discordant, beautiful versus ugly etc

They also can be located on the cline of low to high force/intensity: eg pretty, beautiful, exquisite.


Graduation: the semantics of scaling

Under GRADUATION, we are concerned with values which act to provide grading or scaling, either in terms of the interpersonal force which the speaker attaches to an utterance or in terms of the preciseness or sharpness of focus with which an item exemplifies a valeur relationship,. These two dimensions are variously be labelled `FORCE' (variable scaling of intensity) and `FOCUS' (sharpening or blurring of category boundaries).
FORCE

force includes values which have elsewhere been labelled, intensifiers, down-tones, boosters, emphasisers, emphatics etc. Perhaps this category's most obvious mode of expression is through the adverbs of intensification - slightly, a bit, somewhat, rather, really, very, completely etc. Somewhat more problematically, this principle of scaling also applies to those values which act to measure quantity, extent, and proximity in time and space - small, large; a few, many; near, far etc. force may also be expressed through lexical items in which the scaling value (typically a high value of intensity) is fused with some ideational meaning. This mode of force is found widely in the media - for example, the temperature plunged, prices skyrocketed, they've axed the entire accounting division, the storm cut a swathe through...

It should also be noted that this principle of grading for force operates intrinsically across value of attitude in the sense that each particular attitudinal meaning represent a particular point along the scale of low to high intensity. Thus, for example, to like represents a lower scaling of force , to love a higher scaling and to adore the highest scaling - similarly for the judgement values represented by she plays competently / skilfully / brilliantly etc.

FOCUS

FOCUS covers those meanings which are elsewhere typically analysed under the headings of `hedging' and `vague language'. Typical values are, he kind'v admitted it; he effectively admitted it, he as good as admitted etc; a whale is a fish, sort'v. Under appraisal theory, values which sharpen rather than blur the focus are also included - for example a true friend, pure folly, he drank his friend under the table, literally.

The operating of the principle of scaling/graduation is, perhaps, somewhat more problematic here than in the context of FORCE . As we have seen, under FORCE, scaling operates in the context of gradable categories - values which admit of different degrees of some core meaning. In contrast, under FOCUS, scaling operates in contexts which are not gradable in this sense, or where the communicative objective is not to grade in this way. For example, the state of having made a `break' with someone or something, indicated in `a clean break', is not typically construed as gradable. A similar case applies in `a true friend' and `pure folly'. Nevertheless, there is a strong sense that such values have been `scaled up' by the application of the value of FOCUS - there is a sense even of intensification. We find the inverse - a down scaling - operating in the context of values which soften the FOCUS. Thus `kind'v', in `it was kind'v nerve-wracking', lowers the scaling of intensity. From this perspective, FOCUS can be seen as the domain of the application of scales of intensity to ungraded categories. Thus under FOCUS, the scaling, and hence the lowering and raising of intensity, is realised through the semantics of category membership, through a process of narrowing or broadening the terms by which category memberships is determined, through the sharpening or softening of semantic focus.


Engagement

Under ENGAGEMENT, we are concerned the linguistic resources which explicitly position a text's proposals and propositions inter-subjectively. That is, this set of rhetorical resources is concerned with those meanings which vary the terms of the speaker's engagement with their utterances, which vary what is at stake interpersonally both in individual utterances and as the texts unfolds cumulatively. To put this in terms of questions of communicative functionality and rhetorical potential, the paper is concerned with the resources for by which a text comes to express, negotiate and naturalise particular inter-subjective and ultimately ideological positions.

The meanings analysed here under ENGAGEMENT are typically analysed in the literature under the various headings of evidentiality, epistemic modality and hedging - lexico-grammatical resources such as modals of probability and usuality, reality phase (it seems, apparently), projection/attribution, hearsay and so on. Under appraisal theory, however, the resources included under ENGAGEMENT are rather more extensive than those included in the traditional categories and include negation, counter-expectation (concessives) modal adjuncts of what Halliday terms `presumption' or `obviousness ( 1994: 83) as well as intensifiers such as, `I contend that ...', `He did leave the door open'..

The modelling of ENGAGEMENT has been shaped by the specific research objectives of the projects out of which APPRAISAL theory emerged. It has been shaped by projects which shared a concern for what we might term the rhetorical potential of texts - with exploring how texts are constructed not only to persuade explicitly but also to influence and ultimately to naturalise attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions by more indirect, more implicit means. The modelling was also shaped by our observation that there was systematic, text-type and discourse type related variation in the way that such persuasion and/or influence was approached. That is, we needed a model which could describe and explain the various styles or strategies of inter-subjective positioning that we had observed operating recurrently within different discourse domains. Here the notion of style or strategy relates to the favouring of a particular sub-set of values from the APPRAISAL system and a disfavouring of other values and is somewhat similar to Biber and Finnegan's notion of a `style of stance'. A number of specific objectives follow from these concerns:We need to understand what is at stake inter-subjectively and rhetorically when one positioning option is chosen over another - that is to say, we need to map the valeur relationships between the values and hence to understand the way different choices of values from the system have different consequences for rhetorical potential.
We need to understand the rhetorical consequences of the interaction of these positioning values with other meanings, and most notably with values from the ATTITUDE sub-system (JUDGEMENT, APPRECIATION and AFFECT). Explicit values of attitude provide obvious sites of inter-subjective and ultimately ideological convergence and divergence and hence we need to understand how values of ENGAGEMENT and GRADUATION might act to consolidate, disrupt or negotiate such convergence/divergence.We need to understand the possible interaction between such values both within utterances and within the text as a whole as meanings accumulate as the text unfolds.

We will return to the details of the ENGAGEMENT system in a later section.


The appraisal system in more detail
Affect

The general outlines of the grammar and semantics of affect are well understood. AFFECT is concerned with emotional response and disposition and is typically realised through mental processes of reaction (This pleases me, I hate chocolate, etc) and through attributive relationals of AFFECT (I'm sad, I'm happy, She's proud of her achievements, he's frightened of spiders, etc). Through nominalisation, they may, of course, be realised as nouns - eg His fear was obvious to all.

Values of affect provide one of possibly the most obvious ways that a speaker can adopt a stance towards some phenomenon - they provide the resources by which the speaker can indicate how that phenomenon affected them emotionally, to appraise that phenomenon in affectual terms. This functionality is illustrated by the following extract from a newspaper feature article in which the author describes her own experiences as the adoptive mother of an Australian Aboriginal baby. (AFFECT values are in underline/bold).

As an adoptive family we have had pain and trauma, tears and anger, and sometimes despair. There has also been love and laughter and support from friends and extended family. My children have added richness to my life and taught me much about myself. (Sydney Morning Herald 4/6/97.)

Such evaluations or responses are, of course, inter-subjectively charged and put at risk solidarity between speaker and audience. By appraising events in affectual terms, the speaker/writer invites their audience to share that emotional response, or at least to see that response as appropriate and well motivated, or at least as understandable. When that invitation is accepted, then, solidarity or sympathy between speaker and listener will be enhanced. Once such an empathetic connection has been established, then there is the possibility that the listener will be more open to the broader ideological aspects of the speaker's position. When the invitation to share the emotional response is not taken up - when the affectual value is seen as inappropriate, or bizarre or dysfunctional etc - then solidarity or sympathy will most probably be diminished and the chance of ideological concord diminished.

We can see this strategy at work in the extract above. The article appeared at a time when Australian Aborigines were calling for a public apology and financial compensation for the Australian government's previous policy of forcibly removing aboriginal children from their families and placing them with adoptive white parents. The policy had been described as a form of cultural genocide. A position generally supportive of the Aboriginal perspective had been widely adopted by the media and the political left and centre. The world view of the author of the extract was obviously at odds with this position, at least to the extent that for her the experience of raising two Aboriginal children had nothing to do with genocide and had not been grounds for shame and guilt. Her inclusion of AFFECT values of the type cited above can be seen as part of a strategy by which she was at least able to negotiate some space for her alternative, divergent social perspective. Her construing the issue in terms of basic human emotional responses could be expected to establish, at least in some readers, a sense of sympathy, a sense of common experiences and hence to enhance the possibility that her overall position in the article might be seen by readers as legitimate and well motivated.

The functionality of the author's own emotional responses in the construction of an interpersonal position is therefore relatively unproblematic. The formulation of APPRAISAL adopted here, however, takes into account not only authorial AFFECT but also emotional responses attributed to other social actors. The analysis relies on an observation of the way emotional reactions generally attract social evaluation as appropriate or inappropriate, as natural or unnatural and the way that description of emotions can be expected to trigger sympathetic or unsympathetic responses in the reader/listener. As well, we see the human participants introduced into a text not as isolated individuals but, potentially, as more generalised social types who will be seen to associate with a given socio-semiotic position according to their social characteristics. A reader who sympathises with the emotional response attributed to a given socio type is thus predisposed to legitimate the social position that socio type represents. We can see this dynamic at work in the following extract, taken from a letter to the editor of the Australian newspaper by an Australian of Vietnamese background. She was writing at a time when racism had become a hot media topic following the recent rise of an anti-Asian, anti-immigration and covertly racist political movement under the leadership of the independent parliamentarian, Pauline Hanson.

LAST week, Pauline Hanson attacked Footscray, labelling it an ethnic enclave that makes her feel like a foreigner in her own country.

Has Pauline Hanson been to Footscray? Is she aware of its proud tradition of struggle and hard work? Does she know about the waves of immigrants who have worked in its quarries, factories, workshops and businesses? Immigrants who have been part of the backbone of Australia's labour force and thankful for the opportunity to work and start a new life in this country. (The Australian, 4/6/97)

Here the writer is obviously concerned to negotiate intersubjective space for a social position sympathetic to the interests of immigrant Australians, in contradistinction to that advanced by Pauline Hanson and her followers. Accordingly the immigrants of one of Australia's most multicultural areas, the Melbourne municipality of Footscray, are evaluated positively through emotional responses attributed to them. Thus, they are declared to be `proud' of their hard work and struggle and to be ` thankful' for their opportunities in their new home. The writer establishes a stance towards a particular socio-semiotic reality via the affectual values she attributes to representatives of that reality.


Judgement: evaluating human behaviour

The System of JUDGEMENT encompasses meanings which serve to evaluate human behaviour positively and negatively by reference to a set of institutionalised norms. The exposition here relies on work from the media project of the New South Wales Disadvantaged Schools Program (DSP) detailed in Iedema, Feez and White 1994, and on White 1998

The social norms at risk with JUDGEMENT take the form of rules and regulations or of less precisely defined social expectations and systems of value. Thus, under JUDGEMENT we may assess behaviour as moral or immoral, as legal or illegal, as socially acceptable or unacceptable, as normal or abnormal and so on.

We propose two broad categories of JUDGEMENT and five narrower sub-types within these two categories. It is necessary to stress, however, that since JUDGEMENT is so highly determined by cultural and ideological values, it should not be assumed the same sub-categorisations will apply in other cultural contexts, especially beyond the Western, English-speaking, essentially middle-class setting of the media analysis upon which the theory is based

We proposes the two broad categories of social sanction and social esteem. JUDGEMENTS of social sanction involve an assertion that some set of rules or regulations, more or less explicitly codified by the culture, are at issue. Those rules may be legal or moral and hence JUDGEMENTS of social sanction turn on questions of legality and morality. From the religious perspective, breaches of social sanction will be seen as sins, and in the Western Christian tradition as `mortal' sins. From the legal perspective they will be seen as crimes. Thus to breach social sanction is to risk legal or religious punishment, hence the term `sanction'.

JUDGEMENTS of social esteem involve evaluations under which the person judged will be lowered or raised in the esteem of their community, but which do not have legal or moral implications. Thus negative values of social esteem will be seen as dysfunctional or inappropriate or to be discouraged but they will not be assessed as sins or crimes. (If you breach social sanction you may well need a lawyer or a confessor but if you breach social esteem you may just need to try harder or to practice more or to consult a therapist or possibly a self-help book.)

We divide social esteem into the following three subcategories: normality or custom (how unusual someone is, how customary their behaviour is), capacity (how capable someone is) and tenacity (how dependable someone is, how well they are disposed emotionally or in terms of their intentionality).

The full system of JUDGEMENT, is set out below in Figure 1.


Social Esteem

positive [admire]

negative [criticise]


normality (custom)

`is the person's behaviour unusual, special, customary?'

standard, everyday, average...; lucky, charmed...;

fashionable, avant garde...

eccentric, odd, maverick...;

unlucky, unfortunate...;

dated, unfashionable ...


capacity

`is the person competent, capable?'

skilled, clever, insightful...;

athletic, strong, powerful...;

sane, together...

stupid, slow, simple-minded...;

clumsy, weak, uncoordinated...;

insane, neurotic...


tenacity (resolve)

`is the person dependable, well disposed?'

plucky, brave, heroic...;

reliable, dependable...;

indefatigable, resolute, persevering

cowardly, rash, despondent...;

unreliable, undependable...;

distracted, lazy, unfocussed...



Social Sanction

positive [praise]

negative [condemn]


veracity (truth)

`is the person honest?'

honest, truthful, credible...;

authentic, genuine...;

frank, direct ...;

deceitful, dishonest...;

bogus, fake...;

deceptive, obfuscatory...


propriety (ethics)

`is the person ethical, beyond reproach?'

good, moral, virtuous...;

law abiding, fair, just...;

caring, sensitive, considerate...

bad, immoral, lascivious...;

corrupt, unjust, unfair...;

cruel, mean, brutal, oppressive...


Figure 1: JUDGEMENT (after Iedema, Feez, and White 1994)


Explicit and implicit Judgement

It is vital, additionally, to distinguish between what can be termed `inscribed' (or explicit) JUDGEMENT and `tokens' of JUDGEMENT (or implicit JUDGEMENT). Under the inscribed category, the evaluation is explicitly presented by means of a lexical item carrying the JUDGEMENT value, thus, skilfully, corruptly, lazily etc. It is possible, however, for JUDGEMENT values to be evoked rather than inscribed by what the authors label `tokens' of JUDGEMENT. Under these tokens, JUDGEMENT values are triggered by superficially neutral, ideational meanings which nevertheless have the capacity in the culture to evoke judgemental responses (depending upon the reader's social/cultural/ideological reader position). Thus a commentator may inscribe a JUDGEMENT value of negative capacity by accusing the government of `incompetence' or, alternatively, evoke the same value by means of a token such as `the government did not lay the foundations for long term growth'. There is, of course, nothing explicitly evaluative about such an observation but it nonetheless has the potential to evoke evaluations of incompetence in readers who share a particular view of economics and the role of government. Similarly, a reporter might explicitly evaluate the behaviour of, for example, a Californian suicide cult as `bizarre' or `aberrant' or they might evoke such appraisals by means of tokens such as `They referred to themselves as "angels"' or `They filled the mansion with computers and cheap plastic furniture.' Such tokens, of course, assume shared social norms. They rely upon conventionalised connections between actions and evaluations. As such, they are highly subject to reader position - each reader will interpret a text's tokens of judgement according to their own cultural and ideological positioning. They are also subject to influence by the co-text, and an important strategy in the establishment of interpersonal positioning in a text is to stage inscribed and evoked evaluation in such a way that the reader shares the writer's interpretations of the text's tokens.


Appreciation: evaluating products and processes

APPRECIATION is the system by which evaluations are made of products and processes. The account set out here relies entirely on the work of Rothery, developed initially during research into the language of the visual arts for various NSW Disadvantaged Schools Program projects, as well as subsequent analysis by Rothery and Stenglin of the role of evaluation in secondary school English essays (Rothery and Stenglin in press). (For a review see Martin 1997: 24-26). APPRECIATION encompasses values which fall under the general heading of aesthetics, as well as a non-aesthetic category of `social valuation' which includes meanings such as significant and harmful. APPRECIATION can be thought of as the system by which human feelings, either positive or negative, towards products, processes and entities are institutionalised as a set of evaluations. Thus, whereas JUDGEMENT evaluates human behaviours, APPRECIATION typically evaluates texts, more abstract constructs such as plans and policies, as well as manufactured and natural objects. Humans may also be evaluated by means of APPRECIATION, rather than JUDGEMENT, when viewed more as entities than as participants who behave - thus, a beautiful woman, a key figure.

Rothery and Stenglin (in press) propose three subcategories under which appreciations may be grouped: reaction, composition and valuation. According to Rothery & Stenglin, reaction is `interpersonally tuned. It describes the emotional impact of the work on the reader/listener/viewer.' Thus, under reaction, the product/process is evaluated in terms of the impact it makes or its quality. For example:reaction:impact:positive - arresting, stunning, dramatic,
reaction:impact:negative - dull, uninviting, monotonous,
reaction:quality:positive - lovely, splendid, attractive,reaction:quality:negative - ugly, plain.

Under composition, the product or process is evaluated according to its makeup, according to whether it conforms to various conventions of formal organisation. As Rothery and Stenglin state, `Composition is textually tuned. It describes the texture of a work in terms of its complexity or detail.' For example:composition:balance:positive - unified, symmetrical, harmonious,
composition:balance:negative - unbalanced, incomplete, discordant,
composition:complexity:positive - simple, intricate, precise,composition:complexity:negative - convoluted, simplistic.

Under the subcategory of `social value', the object, product or process is evaluated according to various social conventions. This domain is very closely tied to field in that the social valuation of one field will not be applicable or relevant in another. Thus we would expect that the set of social values which have currency in, for example, the visual arts, might not have extensive application in the world of politics. In the context of the media texts under which much of this theory was developed, the key values were those of social significance or salience (whether the phenomenon was important, noteworthy, significant, crucial etc) and of harm (whether the phenomenon was damaging, dangerous, unhealthy etc).


Engagement: more detailed description

ENGAGEMENT, as already indicated, covers all those resources by which the textual or authorial voice is positioned inter-subjectively. Lexicogrammatically it encompasses a diverse array of resources:projection and related structures of attribution/reported speech;
modal verbs;
modal and comment adjuncts and related forms;
reality phase (verbal group elaboration);
negation;conjunctions/connectives of expectation and counter-expectation.

On what basis is it proposed, therefore, that such lexico-grammatical diversity should be grouped together within the one system? As indicated above, there are several well-established traditions within the literature by which at least a sub-set of these resources are analysed as serving a similar rhetorical functionality. Thus analyses under the headings of `evidentiality', `modality' and `hedging' will often include modal verbs and adjuncts, reality phase and at least some types of attribution/reported speech. It is rather less usual for such analysis to include values of negation and expectation/counter-expectation, but these values do nevertheless sometimes receive and analysis under these headings. The insight at work here is, as Lyons for example has argued (Lyons 1977), that all such meanings serve to indicate an attitude towards the proposition or proposal by the speaker/author.

I concur to the extent that I see such values as attitudinal in the broadest sense of the term. I differ from these established analyses, however, in that, I see as inadequate the truth-functional orientation of traditional modality theory, the epistemic reliability orientation of the evidentiality approach and the negative/positive face approach typically adopted by the `hedging' literature. I will propose an alternative analysis of the rhetorical functionality of these resources, following suggestions from Lemke ( 1992), Fairclough ( 1992), Thibault ( 1997) and Fuller (1998), based on Bakhtin's inter-connected notions of heteroglossia and dialogism (1973, 1978, 1981, 1986). I will argue that this heteroglossic understanding of the semantics of ENGAGEMENT is much more compatible with Halliday's characterisation of the functionality of MOOD in that it understands inter-subjective positioning in social rather than individualistic terms and in that it attends to the way all utterances are centrally concerned with the negotiation of interactional and informational meanings.


Engagement - the truth functional perspective

We can say that traditional approaches have construed these resources as either being concerned with the speaker's commitment to the truth-value of their utterances or with allowing the speaker to characterise their utterances as less than factual or as less than certain `knowledge', as having a diminished epistemic reliability. Thus Lyons contrasts what he terms the `subjectivity' of the modal meaning with the `objectivity' of `bare assertions' and describes such modalised utterances as `non-factive', in contrast to these `factive' utterances which are `straightforward statements of fact [which] may be described as "epistemically non-modal" because the speaker commits himself to the truth of what he asserts' (1977: 794). In a somewhat similar vein, Chafe observes,

People are aware, though not necessarily consciously aware, that some things they know are surer bets for being truer than others, that not all knowledge is equally reliable. Thus one way in which knowledge may be qualified is with an expression indicating the speaker's assessment of its degree of reliability. (Chafe 1986: 264)

Under these formulations, therefore, the semantics at issue is represented as emerging from meaning making in which individual speakers apply a `subjective' coloration or slant to the propositional content of their utterances so as to hedge the truth value of that content or to indicate doubts about its reliability. The semantics are construed as turning on whether individual speakers present themselves as willing or unwilling to commit to the truth of what they assert. Frequently the choice is construed as one between objective `facts' and the subjective uncertainty of the modal or the evidential value _ hence Lyons contrast between `non-factive' and tellingly what he terms the `straightforward statements of fact' (Lyons 1977: 794, emphases mine).

There is an implication, therefore, in the various formulations that the overriding purpose of communication is to exchange truth values or certain knowledge and that these modal, evidential or hedging values are introduced only in communicatively non-optimal circumstances. Thus the speaker is represented as inserting modal values and hence adopting an interpersonal position when they have failed to achieve an absolute, and hence `straightforward' (following Lyon's citation above), commitment to the truth of their utterances. These are thus values to be used, so to speak, when facts fail you. The term `hedge', I believe, reflects this perspective, suggesting as it does some form of evasion or even deceit, some sense of improperly `having it both ways' .

Such approaches are also informed by a view of communication in which either speaker or speaker and listener are constructed in individualised terms, rather than as social subjects dealing with meanings informed by and reflecting social structures and conditions. Thus the presence of the modal/evidential/hedging value is seen primarily to reflect the speaker's individual state of mind - speakers insert a modal qualification, for example, as a way of signalling their uncertainty, as a way of coding their individual lack of commitment to some propositional content.


Engagement - a Bahktinian perspective

Under the model developed here, however, I adopt an approach to these values which gives a greater role to the audience, or at least to the way texts can be seen to negotiate meanings with actual and potential audiences. As well, I construe meaning making in social rather than individualised terms and will not give priority to ideational content and its associated truth value.

In this I am reflecting general systemic functional assumptions about language and language use. I am, however, more specifically influenced by Bakhtin's notions of `heteroglossia' and `intertextuality' (1973, 1981, 1986) Under these notions, Bakhtin insists upon the intertextual nature of all texts, observing that all texts necessarily reference, respond to, and to greater or lesser extents incorporate other texts both actual and prospective.

The desire to make one's speech understood is only an abstract aspect of the speaker's concrete and total speech plan. Moreover, any speaker is himself a respondent to a greater or lesser degree. He is not, after all, the first speaker, the one who disturbs the eternal silence of the universe. And he presupposes not only the existence of the language system he is using, but also the existence of preceding utterances-his own and others'-with which his given utterance enters into one kind of relation or another (builds on them, polemicizes with them, or simply presumes that they are already known to the listener). Any utterance is a link in a very complexly organized chain of other utterances. (Bakhtin 1986: 69)

Thus we might say that no utterance is an island, as it were.

The heteroglossic perspective emphases the role of language in positioning speakers and their texts within the heterogeneity of social positions and world views which operate in any culture. All texts reflect a particular social reality or ideological position and therefore enter into relationships of greater or lesser alignment with a set of more or less convergent/divergent social positions put at risk by the current social context. Thus every meaning within a text occurs in a social context where a number of alternative or contrary meanings could have been made, and derives its social meaning and significance from the relationships of divergence or convergence into which it enters with those alternative meanings. As Lemke observes, in his interpretation of Bakhtin,

Lexical choices are always made against the background of their history of use in the community, they carry the `freight' of their associations with them, and a text must often struggle to appropriate another's word to make it its own. (Lemke 1992: 85)

Thus texts are `heteroglossic' - they directly address or at least implicitly acknowledge a certain array of more or less convergent and divergent socio-semiotic realities. They address those alternative realities as expressed in previous texts and as they are expected to be realised in future texts. As a consequence, every meaning within a text occurs in a social context where a number of alternative or contrary meanings could have been made, and derives its social meaning and significance from the relationships of divergence or convergence into which it enters with those alternative meanings.

(This notion of heteroglossia is also reflected in Foucault's account of intertextuality. Thus Foucault states, `there can be no statement that in one way or another does not reactualize others' - Foucault 1972: 98 /d. This notion is also fundamental to Fairclough's analysis of intertextuality and orders of discourse. See for example Fairclough 1989, 1992)

When informed by this view of text as heteroglossic, our approach to these linguistic resources will be rather different from the individualistic approach exemplified by Lyons' definition. Rather than seeing these values as necessarily oriented to coding a speaker's individual position or attitude, I will see them as operating to reflect the process of interaction or negotiation within a text between alternative socio-semiotic positions.

Under the individualistic (what Lemke terms `social interactionist') model, a modal value such as `maybe' or `I think that ..' is seen as acting to indicate uncertainty or lack of commitment to, or confidence in the truth values by the individual speaker - it is seen as epistemological, as a reflex of the speaker's current state of knowledge with respect to some propositional content. Under the heteroglossic perspective, rather than necessarily reflecting the speaker's state of knowledge, it can additionally or alternatively be seen as signalling that the meanings at stake are subject to heteroglossic negotiation. It may have no connection at all with doubt or vagueness, being used, instead, to acknowledge the contentiousness of a particular proposition, the willingness of the speaker to negotiate with those who hold a different view, or the deference of the speaker for those alternative views.

The terms of that negotiation will vary according to the context of situation and, in particular, the social relationships between speaker and audience. Thus, within academic discourse, the speaker may use a modal of probability to acknowledge the contentiousness or novelty of a given meaning, thereby coding a willingness to recognise and negotiate with divergent heteroglossic positions over that meaning. Such functionality is exemplified below by an extract from an article in which the writer seeks to advance the novel, contentious proposition that Marx was a precursor of contemporary anthropological theories of culture. In the course of this opening paragraph, the writer goes from characterising the proposition as extremely improbable, to asserting it forcibly. The movement is not from actual doubt, vagueness or epistemological unreliability to certainty. It is a rhetorical move designed to deal with the novelty and contentiousness of the author's primary proposition. (I have firstly underlined the various wordings which characterise various meanings in these modal terms, and then the final affirmative statement, where the author declares his position without qualification.)

This consideration of Marx as a precursor, though a largely unacknowledged one, of the modern anthropological theory of culture is situated on somewhat improbable terrain. It lies in a no-man's-land between two rather unlikely propositions: first, that there can be anything much new to be said about Marx; and second, that, having been enthusiastically cited now for a century by those who would entirely conflate human history with natural history and culture, into its occasioning circumstances, Marx had anything at all of value to say to his contemporaries - still less has anything to offer us about culture. Yet such a consideration is neither absurd nor untimely, as Raymond Williams' recent discussion cited above demonstrates. (Kessler 1987: 35)

In other contexts, the same general semantic resources may be used towards rather different rhetorical ends. For example modals of probability may function to enable speakers to avoid indicating a firm preference for one heteroglossic position, not because they entertain genuine epistemological doubt over the issue or because they wish to show deference to alternative positions, but because they choose, for whatever interpersonal reasons, to resist being positioned in this way. The following extract from the stage play, Educating Rita, illustrates such a strategy. (The character Rita is a mature age university student from a working class background. Frank is her university tutor. The pair are engaged in a one-to-one tutorial session.)

Rita: That's a nice picture, isn't it Frank?

Frank: Uh yes, I suppose it is.

Rita: It's very erotic.

Frank: Actually I don't think I've looked at this picture in 10 years, but, yes, it is, I suppose so.

Rita: Well, there's no suppose about it.

The extract demonstrates a clash in the interpersonal styles (what we might term codes, following Bernstein 1970) between Rita's monoglossic and Frank's heteroglossic rhetorical strategy. Presumably the audience doesn't interpret Frank's lines as indicating that the character has a great deal invested epistemologically or interpersonally in the painting. Rather, the Frank character here seems to be using values of probability (I suppose, I don't think etc), not out of either doubt, deference or a desire to save Rita's `face', but as almost a passive aggressive tool for insisting upon his heteroglossic mode and for denying or seeking to suppress the Rita character's monoglossic mode. Rita, of course, is alive to this strategy and confronts it through what amounts to a rejection of heteroglossia in this particular context - `Well, there's no suppose about it.' (See Martin to appear to appear/c for an extended discussion of interpersonal positioning in Educating Rita.)

A crucial feature of these values, therefore, is their context-dependent polysemous functionality. In a sense, this multi-functionality can be seen as analogous to that of the smile as a communicative device. In one context, a smile may act or be read as genuinely signalling a mental state of happiness or pleasure in the person smiling. In other contexts the smile is a politeness marker, exchanged between acquaintances as they pass in the corridor, for example, as an indicator of recognition or acknowledgement, and thus carrying no affectual value at all. Similarly, a modal value of probability may, in one context, signal genuine epistemological doubt in the speaker. Equally, it may have no connection at all with doubt, being used, rather to acknowledge the contentiousness of a particular proposition, the willingness or unwillingness of the speaker to negotiate with those who hold a different view, or the deference the speaker wishes to display for those alternative views.

From this Bakhtinian perspective, therefore, I characterise as too narrowly-based those formulations which would construe such values exclusively in negative terms as `hedges', as deviations from `straightforward' factuality, or as points of epistemological unreliability. We should, rather, see them as acting to open up, or to extend the semantic potential available to the text - in some contexts enhancing the possibility of a continued heteroglossic negotiation between divergent positions, and in others acting to forestall or fend off that negotiation.

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