An appraisal analysis of attribute in journal articles on language studies in english (tt)

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Code: 8220201
Da Nang, 2018
This thesis has been completed at University of Foreign Language
Studies, The University of Da Nang
Supervisors: Dr. NGUYỄN HỮU QUÝ
Examiner 1: Assoc. Prof. Dr. TRẦN VĂN PHƯỚC
Examiner 2: Dr. TRẦN QUANG HẢI
The thesis to be orally defended at the Examining Committee
Time: 19 October 2018
Venue: Tay Nguyen University
This thesis is available for the purpose of reference at:
- Library of University of Foreign Language Studies, The University
of Da Nang.
- The Information Resources Center, The University of Da Nang
In regard to writing journal – a kind of academic magazine that
reports on a specific interest to a particular community, especially
journal articles on language studies, some sections are truly difficult
to manage. For instance, writing Introduction and Literature Review
chapters in journal articles are not an easy-to-achieve task. These two
chapters are particularly important. Introduction, the first chapter of a
research paper, displays the general introduction of a topic or a
statement. Another significant chapter is Literature Review, this
chapter explores scholarly articles, research papers and other sources
which are appropriate to a specific topic or theory and also provides
context for a thesis by identifying past research. By looking through
Introduction and Literature Review chapters, readers will decide if
they should continue to read that article or not and if the article is
relevant to their research or not.
As Introduction and Literature Review chapters are vital
sections of a journal article, much attention has been paid to make it
well-written, unique and credible. An effective way to make the
Introduction and Literature Review chapters credible is using
Attribute, which manifest itself in citation, that is to cite facts and
words from different authors. Attribute (or Attribution) is a subtype
of Engagement system in Appraisal theory (or Appraisal framework)
developed by Martin and White (2005) which serves to help
expressing the writer‟s attitude of appraising/evaluating other
authors‟ cited ideas or findings in research works. This aspect of
acknowledgement has been widely attended to in the extensive
literature on reported speech and citation, especially as it operates
within academic discourse.
Appraisal theory has been applied to several works and studies.
Körner (2000) „s Ph.D. dissertation named Negotiating Authority:
The Logogenesis of Dialogue in Common Law Judgments, mainly
discussed the evaluative language in legal discourse. Hoods (2004)‟s
study Appraising Research: Taking a stance in academic writing also
employed Appraisal Theory as theoretical framework for the
analysis. In Evaluation in Media Reporting: A comparative analysis
in BBC, CNN and Aljazeera reports, Birot (2008) examined the
reason why evaluative language is important in media reporting
under Appraisal framework. Gales (2011) analyzed interpersonal
stance in threatening discourse with her work: Identifying
interpersonal stance in threatening discourse: An appraisal analysis.
It is obvious that different perspectives of Appraisal theory have been
adopted in years. However, a system of Appraisal theory is still open
for discussion of the evaluative aspects of various genres, that is
Engagement system in appraising the academic works. As mentioned
above, Attribute is a subtype of this system and this semantic
category has been manifested with a wide range of linguistic
resources in many journal articles. Unfortunately, though much has
been written about how to write a literature review of research works
or articles, little has been discussed concerning the evaluative aspects
of the linguistic resources resorted in the Engagement system,
specifically the category of Attribute. The validity and reliability of
sources of information in quotes in this section of the academic work
still need having a closer look into the evaluative aspects of the
language resources. In academic writing, it will often be necessary to
refer to the research of others and to report on their findings. In order
to do so, we have to use reporting verbs such as 'Evans (1994)
suggests that....'; 'Brown (2001) argues that....'. The difficulty with
using reporting verbs is that there are many different verbs, and each
of them has slightly different, and often subtle shades of meaning.
Using the correct words relies, as much as anything, on making the
correct interpretation of what the writer you are studying is saying.
In this paper, Attribute appears in the Introduction and
Literature Review Chapters of Journal Articles on Language Studies
in English (JALSE) has been chosen to be the topic/data of the
research “An Appraisal Analysis of Attribute in Journal Articles on
Language Studies in English”.
Hence, “An Appraisal Analysis of Attribute in Journal
Articles on Language Studies in English” will give who those are
interested in this topic a new insight into Appraisal theory concerning
the manifestation of Attribute. Furthermore, this topic will present
the syntactic realizations, semantics and pragmatics features of
Attribute in English as well.
1.2.1. Aims
The study aims to examine Attribute in the Introduction
and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE from an Appraisal
theory approach in order to help learners to have a better
understanding of the evaluative meanings and the motivations
of using Attribute in this genre of academic work.
1.2.2. Objectives
This study aims to fulfill the following objectives.
- To describe the syntactic realizations of Attribute used in
the Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE;
- To discover the semantic features of Attribute used in the
Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE;
- To analyze the pragmatic features of Attribute used in the
Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE.
This study intends to answer the following questions
- What are the syntactic realizations of Attribute used in the
Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE?
- What are the semantic features of Attribute used in the
Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE?
- What are the pragmatic features of Attribute used in the
Introduction and Literature Review Chapters of JALSE?
The study only deals with the instances of Attribute extracted
from Introduction and Literature Review chapters of journal articles
from 2013 to 2017 about the issues of language studies from IJRSLL.
As mentioned earlier, various academic works such as
research papers, journal articles have been used Appraisal theory as a
primary framework in analyzing the evaluative aspects of language
used in the genre of research. Furthermore, several perspectives of
Appraisal theory also became the topic of many works. Attribute,
which can be understood as reporting or quoting ideas and thoughts
of other writers/speakers, is a subtype that belongs to Engagement
system in Appraisal theory. In the Engagement system, Attribute
represents a clause based on the subjectivity of an external voice.
There have been numerous studies using the system.
Tran and Thomson (2008) explored the nature of „Reporter
voice‟ in a Vietnamese hard news story. The article, which was taken
from the Nhan Dan Daily (The People‟s Daily), reports on the Iraqi
war, particularly the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal. The Attitude and
Engagement system of Appraisal theory was mainly used as the
examination tool to explore the reporter‟s opinions and ideological
positioning expressed in this article. The research shows that the
reporter takes a personal attitude towards the affair being reported
along with the strategies that he/she used to engage other parties in
support of his/her viewpoint.
In Wang and An‟s journal article (2013), the co-authors
applied Appraisal theory to study the rhetoric and stylistic features of
Chinese academic book reviews. A corpus of 30 Chinese academic
book reviews were examined from the perspective of Attitude system
and Engagement system. They used these systems to present their
opinion on the book under review, as well as to position their
authorial voices with concern to the other voices and alternative
positions. Its findings suggest that these systems of Appraisal theory
work effectively to assist the book reviews to negotiate their inter-
subjective positions with the book authors and the general readers.
On the other hand, Chusna and Wahyudi (2015) investigated
Appraisal devices on the “X Factor Indonesia” commentaries in view
of Appraisal theory. Through the research, they discovered the
existence of “Appraisal theory” on X-Factor judges‟ commentaries.
Additionally, differences in how the judges operate the appraisal
devices can be observed through the percentage of the following
eight elements: affect-attitude (12,71%), judgement-attitude
(44,91%), appreciation-attitude (42,37%), force-graduation (91,67%),
focus-graduation (8,33%), mono-gloss- engagement (0%), Dialogic
contraction-engagement (62,68%) and Dialogic expansion-
engagement (40,29%).
The previous studies have adopted some perspectives of the
Engagement system as the approach of investigation. However, little
or almost no prior research has looked into subtypes of the
Engagement system as the topic for studying. Meanwhile one of the
Engagement subtypes – Attribute, a semantic category realized
linguistically by reporting verbs, has recently recorded a study related
to it. Nguyen and Pramoolsook (2015) presented a study of reporting
verbs in 24 TESOL Master‟s thesis Literature Review chapters
written by Vietnamese postgraduates. This study revealed that these
Vietnamese writers have a habit of randomly use reporting verbs
without being aware of their rhetorical functions. Moreover, mistakes
and nonidiomatic expressions were also identified in this study.
Regarding the evaluative potentials of reporting verbs, and the tense
and voice uses, these writers were likely to be unfamiliar with using
reporting verbs to achieve the communicative purposes of Literature
Review chapters. These findings suggest that clear instructions
should be provided to help beginner writers effectively use reporting
verbs in their M.A. theses. Though, the study mentioned above did
not use Appraisal theory or Engagement system as the framework for
studying reporting verbs and other linguistic structures to realize
Attribute used in journal articles. The present research is expected to
contribute to the Attribute area of the Engagement system of
Appraisal theory with a closer look into the linguistic realizations of
this subsystem to reveal more information about the form and
function of this semantic category.
2.2.1. Systemic Functional Linguistics
Systemic Functional Linguistics (hereafter SFL) is an
approach to language developed mainly by M.A.K. Halliday and his
colleagues during the 1960s in the United Kingdom, and later in
Australia. SFL explores the notion of language function in social
SFL identifies three kinds of meaning, or language
metafunctions as presented in Figure 2.1: ideational, interpersonal
and textual. These three kinds of meaning are related to clause
structure as well: Ideational meanings deal with clause as a
representation are concerned with construing human experience: how
the individual perceives the world. Interpersonal meanings deal with
clause as an exchange are concerned with negotiating social relations:
how people are interacting. Textual meanings deal with clause as a
message are concerned with information flow in a text: how
ideational and interpersonal meanings are systematized. These
meanings correspond respectively to the register variables field,
tenor, and mode.
Each metafunction is about a different aspect of the world and is
concerned with different kinds of meaning of clause. Though these
metafunctions are regard as conveying simultaneously in language,
Appraisal theory focuses primarily on the interpersonal function
(Martin & White, 2005).
2.2.2. Appraisal theory
Appraisal theory or appraisal framework has emerged over a
period of almost two decades as a result of work conducted by a
group of researchers lead by Professor James Martin of the
University of Sydney. Located within the framework of SFL,
Appraisal theory is concerned with the interpersonal meaning in
language. It is a particular approach to discover the language of
evaluation, to express attitude and emotion of writers/speakers
towards their texts and their readers, to explain how they present
themselves in texts, and how they build an ideal audience for their
texts. (Martin & White, 2005, p. 1)
2.2.3. An overview of Engagement
As Martin and White (2005) state, Engagement is concerned
with “the linguistic resources by which speakers/ writers adopt a
stance towards to the value positions being referenced by the text and
with respect to those they address”. Engagement is divided as
monoglossic and heteroglossic.
Each has two sub-categories as shown in Figure 2.5, they are:
disclaim and proclaim, entertain and Attribute.
Since the present research attends to investigate Attribute in
journal articles on language study in English, the following section is
devoted to Attribute and its subtypes.
2.2.4. Attribute in English
As Martin and White (2005) indicate, “Attribute: by
representing proposition as grounded in the subjectivity of an
external voice, the textual voice represents the proposition as but one
of a range of possible positions…”
Attribute is further sub-categorized into two subtypes:
acknowledge and distance.
 Acknowledge: X said..., X believes…, according to
X, in X's view
 Distance: X claims that, the myth that…., it's
rumoured that
As Attribute refers to such linguistic resources as reporting verbs,
in Table 2.2 below, the main reporting verbs in English are classified in
terms of their function, and their strength, and will be treated as one of
the linguistic tools for realizing Attribute used in JALSE.
Table 2.2 Reporting Verbs in English (Sharpling, 2014)
Function and strength Example verbs
NEUTRAL: describe, show, reveal, study,
verbs used to say what the writer demonstrate, note, point out,
describes in factual terms, indicate, report, observe, assume,
demonstrates, refers to, and take into consideration, examine,
discusses, and verbs used to go on to say that, state, believe
explain his/her methodology. (unless this is a strong belief),
mention, etc.
TENTATIVE: suggest, speculate, intimate,
verbs used to say what the writer hypothesise, moot, imply,
suggests or speculates on propose, recommend, posit the
(without being absolutely view that, question the view that,
certain). postulate, etc.
STRONG: argue, claim, emphasize,
verbs used to say what the writer contend, maintain, assert,
makes strong arguments and theorize, support the view that,
claims for. deny, negate, refute, reject,
challenge, strongly believe that,
counter the view/argument that,
In summary, this chapter has reviewed the previous studies
relating to this study. It has also presented the problems to be
investigated in the perspectives of SFL and Appraisal theory. All of
these theories serve as the background of the study and will all be the
foundation for analysis in the chapter 4. The framework we outline,
then, is directed towards providing a systematic account of how such
dialogistic positionings of Attribute are achieved linguistically. It
helps to depict the means to characterise a speaker/writer‟s
interpersonal style and evaluative strategies according to what kind of
heteroglossic communicative setting of other voices and alternative
viewpoints they build up for their text and according to the mode
they choose to engage with that setting.
The study applied both quantitative and qualitative methods
for the aim of exploring Attribute in the Introduction and Literature
Review Chapters of JALSE from an Appraisal theory approach in
order to help learners to have a better understanding of the evaluative
meanings and the motivations of using Attribute in this genre of
academic work. The quantitative method was employed to estimate
the occurrence and the frequency of different sub-categories of
Attribute in JALSE. The qualitative method was used to analyze
linguistic features in terms of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic
The study is to explore the linguistic features of Attribute in
Introduction and Literature Review chapters of JALSE from an
Appraisal theory approach. To achieve the aims and objectives, the
researcher used quantitative and qualitative with descriptive methods.
The quantitative method was needed to determine the
frequencies of occurrences of different types of Attribute. The
qualitative one was adopted to describe different realizations of
Attribute in terms of syntax and semantics in JALSE. The descriptive
method was employed in order to give a detailed description of the
syntactic and semantic features of Attribute. A combination of
analytic and synthetic methods was utilized to identify and classify
pragmatic features of Attribute in Introduction and Literature Review
chapters of JALSE.
The data were primarily taken from IJRSLL. The instances
of Attribute were extract from journal articles from 2013 to 2017
about the issues of language studies.
3.3.1. Sampling
The study aims to identify and collect the instances of
Attribute that stated in the working definition of the research.
Attribute can be found in Introduction and Literature Review
chapters of JALSE from IJRSLL. These Attribute can be a phrase or
a clause with the function that fits the working definition of the
The sampling was done in random manner to have the equal
opportunity to occur in the corpus.
3.3.2. Procedure of data collection
3.3.3. Instrument of data collection
Google Search Engine was used to find journal articles
resources as well as JALSE. All files saved as PDF.
After collecting and investigating Attribute in Introduction
and Literature Review chapters of JALSE, Attribute was analysed
and classified qualitatively in terms of semantic, syntactic and
pragmatic features. Statistical tables were also made to show
quantitatively the distribution of Attribute in JALSE.
Attribute used in Introduction and Literature Review chapters
of JALSE were observed and qualitatively and quantitatively
analyzed according to these following aspects:
 Syntactic realizations of Attribute in reference to the
functional framework and how these linguistic units are
distributed and organized in clause as exchange.
 Semantic features of Attribute in view of appraisal and in
semantic components of clause as representation.
 Pragmatic features of Attribute in reference to the potential
implications derived from the scale of certainty.
The results of the analysis are then presented in mainly
qualitative manner (in words and nominal scales). Frequency of
Attribute is presented in tables
This chapter presents the research design as descriptive one
which was guided by the objectives and research question in seeking
both qualitative and quantitative information about Attribute in
JALSE, the research methods, the procedure to collect data and the
dimension in analyze the data.
4.1.1. Attribute in form of Matrix clause structure
4.1.2. Attribute in form of Adverbial clause structure
4.1.3. Attribute in form of Elliptical Adverbial clause
4.1.4. Attribute in form of Prepositional Structure
4.1.5. Syntactic Realizations of Attribute in Clause as
4.1.6. Summary
To sum up, the choice of adopting verbal structures and
prepositional structures as Attribute in journal articles positions the
writer in relation to the reported authors and the reported information.
With different reporting verbs and prepositional phrases, the writer
shows his/her evaluation and stances towards the reported authors
and the reported information and this evaluation is realized in the
clause as exchange where Attribute serves the interpersonal function
in forms of matrix clause, adverbial clause and prepositional phrase
in the MOOD of a declarative sentence.
4.2.1. Semantic representation of Attribute in Ideational
clause Attribute as reporting locution in verbal process
17 Attribute as reporting ideas in Mental process Attribute as reporting ideas in Circumstance of
4.2.2. Scale of Certainty of Attribute in JALSE
4.2.3. Acknowledge Attributes in JALSE
4.2.4. Distance Attributes in JALSE
4.2.5. Summary
Below is the summary of the the semantic function of 2
subcategories of Attribute
Acknowledge Distance
- formulations are dialogistically - formulations are dialogistically
expansive expansive
- locutions with no overt - explicit distancing of the
indication as to where the authorial voice from the
authorial voice stands with Attributed material
respect to the proposition
- associate the proposition being - detaches him/herself from
advanced with voices and/or responsibility for what is being
positions external to that of the reported
text itself
- present the authorial voice as - mark explicitly the internal
engaging interactively with those authorial voice as separate from
external voices the cited, external voice.
- no specification as to where the - explicitly ground the
authorial voice stands with proposition in an individualised,
respect to the proposition as contingent subjectivity, that of
neutral or disinterested some external source
Linguistic resources for Attribute and examples
- Nikolov (2003, p. 6) also - Eriksson, Krampe and Tesch-
declares ... Romer (1993), for instance,
- As Norton (1995) argues, ... claim ...
- Cummins (1994) states ... - Anzali (1985) claims ...
- According to Romanowski and - It is believed that ...
Sergey (2001), ... (Vandergrift, Goh, & Marreschal,
4.3.1. Attribute as modification of the Illocutionary force of
Representative Signaling the Neutrality of Reporting modes Signaling the Tentativeness of Reporting modes Signaling the Strength of Reporting modes
4.3.2. Implications signaled by Attribute in Reporting
This chapter has presented the syntactic features of Attribute in
terms of linguistic structures that realize the evaluative function of
signaling dialogistic expansiveness in clause as exchange and clause
as message to highlight their position in the locution/idea in