The persuasive power of prosodies: Radiating values in academic writing

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Journal Article
Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 2006, 5 (1), pp. 37 - 49
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The notion of prosody in linguistics was originally applied to phonology by Firth (Palmer, 1970) to refer to non-segmental features. Its use has been extended in Systemic Functional Linguistic theory to the levels of grammar and discourse semantics. Here it refers to the way that interpersonal meaning spreads or diffuses across clauses and across longer phases of discourse (Halliday, 1994; Martin, 1992, 1996). In this paper I explore how the notion of prosodies of interpersonal meaning can inform our understanding of the construction of evaluative stance in the introductions to academic research papers. I draw initially on Appraisal theory (Martin, 2000) and Martin & Rose (2003) to analyse expressions of ATTITUDE1 and GRADUATION. I then consider how such expressions are used in constructing different kinds of argument, with a particular focus on the prosodies of value that are established. An appreciation of the prosodic patterning of interpersonal meanings and an understanding of how they function in academic discourse, have important implications in the modelling of evaluative stance in texts in the teaching of English for Academic Purposes. There are also broader implications for discourse analytic research in terms of methods of coding values and of justifying coding decisions. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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