APPRAISAL-ENGAGEMENTThe ENGAGEMENT resource of APPRAISAL (Martin & White, 2005, p. 134)

Dear all,
Today I would like to focus on one of the resources of APPRAISAL in more detail. Namely, I would like to speak about ENGAGEMENT. The ENGAGEMENT resource is “directed towards identifying the particular dialogic positioning associated with given meanings and towards describing what is at stake when one meaning rather than another is employed” (Martin & White, 2005, p. 97). In other words, this APPRAISAL resource functions rhetorically to construct relations of alignment and rapport or vice versa, disalignment, between the speaker/writer and the listener/reader. ENGAGEMENT is concerned with whether the author of an utterance excludes (monoglossia) or admits (heteroglossia) any external positions. Let us look at these examples:
1) The Earth goes around the sun.
2) According to scientists, the Earth goes around the sun.

In example 1, the author makes a statement without any references to external sources, therefore this is a monoglossic proposition. In example 2, the author refers to “scientists”, therefore, in this case we deal with heteroglossia. Heteroglossia is often used by an author to demonstrate that what he/she is saying does not belong to him or to demonstrate that what he/she is saying is supported by other [reputable] people and, thus, deserves trust/consideration. Different positions or sources are termed as “voices” within this framework.

The ENGAGEMENT resource of APPRAISAL has a ramified taxonomy which includes following four categories: disclaim, proclaim, entertain, and attribute.
1) With disclaim propositions, the authorial voice positions itself as “at odds with, or rejecting some contrary position” (Martin & White, 2005, p. 97). This category comprises deny and counter as subcategories (for examples see the figure at the top of this post).

2) Proclaim helps the author to suppress any alternative positions or to set himself/herself against them “by representing the proposition as highly warrantable (compelling, valid, plausible, well-bounded, generally agreed, reliable, etc.)” (Martin & White, 2005, p. 97). This category includes concur, pronounce, and endorse subcategories.

3) Using entertain inventory, the authorial voice represents a given proposition as one of a range of possible propositions and in this way entertains/invokes dialogic alternatives; for this purpose the whole proposition is explicitly presented “as grounded in its own contingent, individual subjectivity” (Martin & White, 2005, 97).

4) Attribute propositions are characterized by the availability of external voices and/or dialogic alternatives which entail non-endorsement and permit the author to remain aloof from the relationships of alignment or disalignment (Martin & White, 2005). This category has two subcategories: acknowledge and distance.

Disclaim and proclaim categories are grouped into the contract set of resources, while entertain and attribute categories are grouped into the expand set. The contract resources function to exclude or limit other voices or position within a text. The expand resources, on the contrary, function to invoke alternatives.

As can be seen from the figure above and from the discussion, ENGAGEMENT is a highly detailed framework which allows doing a fine-grained analysis of a text. However, the framework has two limitations. First, it is characterized by a relatively strong reliance on lexicogrammar and insufficient attention to such aspects as syntax, punctuation, and typography. Second, up to know only a few studies (e.g. Economou, 2009) have attempted to apply the framework to the analysis of visual texts while modern discourse is increasingly multimodal (e.g. websites, software, animations). Therefore, the ENGAGEMENT framework is a useful tool for the analysis of the lexicogrammatical aspect of a text; however, for the analysis of multimodal texts, it may be beneficial to examine other modes which contribute to its overall communicative value.

Economou, D. (2009). Photos in the news: appraisal analysis of visual semiosis and verbal-visual intersemiosis. PhD dissertation, University of Sydney, Department of Linguistics, NSW, Australia.
Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan


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