Systemic Functional Linguistics as Interpersonal Semantics: Appraisal and Attitude in the Stylistic Analysis of an English Novel

Yaser Hadidi, Leila Mohammadbagheri-Parvin


Subsumed under Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) that emphasizes functionality of language in social contexts, Appraisal is a recent theoretical framework that extends the interpersonal dialogistic semantics dimension of SFL into interesting elaboration. This system, in turn, has three subsystems, one of which is Attitude which is geared to justifying and explaining the processes through which writers and speakers communicate their evaluations towards individuals, material objects and phenomena, or even their own emotions. Since Appraisal has evolved in recent years, studies have often been concerned with introducing the framework, and extensive attention could obviously not have been paid to tapping into the practical, and equally, enormous use of this system in illuminating and insightful discourse analysis. This study is a small step in such a direction. The selected corpus for this research was “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the whole novel was analyzed discursively, linguistically, and stylistically through one of the subsystems of Appraisal, namely Attitude. Two research questions at the macro level were concerned with the analysis of the whole text (the whole novel) employing Attitude. Two other research questions at the micro level were concerned with the analysis of the discourse of each of the main discourse producers (main characters of the novel) when employing Attitude. The data that included frequencies and percentages of each of the Attitudinal modes were used to answer and discuss the four research questions. It was found that Attitude was deployed in the expected order of Appreciation, Judgment, Affect, and also that Attitude was stylistically indicative of and worked in line with character and context within the novel in question. Finally, the role of this research in paving the way for prospective further studies was presented concisely.

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