Submitted to Functions of Language

Resources for Attitudinal Meaning: Evaluative Orientations in Text Semantics

J L Lemke, City University of New York, Brooklyn College School of Education, Brooklyn, NY 11210 USA

1.0 Introduction

One of the most basic functions of language is to create interpersonal relationships between speakers and addressees through the way in which text is worded. Speech act functions establish whether we are offering or demanding, aiding or attacking, creating solidarity or emphasizing social distance. In these and other ways we use language to take a stance towards and socially orient ourselves and our text to others. But we do not just use language to orient to addressees, real and potential; we also take a stance toward the ideational or propositional content of our own texts. Whatever we have to say about the world, we can also tell others, in the same utterance, to what extent we believe what we say is likely, desirable, important, permissible, surprising, serious, or comprehensible. In making these evaluations of propositions and proposals, we also orient our text in the larger world of available social viewpoints on our topic, and we further define our identities as meaning-makers with particular values as well as beliefs.

Because language is a resource for doing all these important things, we need to better understand just what evaluative and attitudinal meanings it allows us to make about propositions and proposals, actions and events, persons, phenomena, and things. We want to know in what different ways the same basic sorts of attitudinal meanings can be made, and how these are instantiated in primary units such as the clause or the nominal group and across longer stretches of cohesive text. In this paper I want to identify seven semantic classes of evaluative attributes for propositions and proposals, which appear to be the only ones allowed in English. I will illustrate their use from a corpus of newspaper editorials and characterize some interesting discourse phenomena for further study.

2.0 Background

Mikhail Bakhtin (1935), a keen analyst of discourse phenomena, called attention to the ways in which social communities embody a large number of different discourse voices, each characteristic of some sub-community of speakers, and each standing in complex semantic relationships to many others. I have argued elsewhere (Lemke, 1995a) that such 'discourse formations' (cf. 'Discourses' in Gee 1990), in their mutual relationships in semantic space, mirror and help to constitute the sociological relationships among distinct groups in a community. Bakhtin (1935: 288, 290-292) characterizes these distinct discourse voices by their particular points of view; such viewpoints may differ, he notes, in their 'ideological' (better translated here as 'ideational') contents and in their 'axiological', or value-orientation stances toward that content and toward other voices. This is the phenomenon he terms 'heteroglossia'. I have previously tried to show how a functionalist linguistic approach to discourse analysis can make good use of these notions (e.g. Lemke 1988a, 1990, 1992). A register theory approach (Gregory 1967, Halliday 1977) can also readily characterize differences in the typical ideational choices in two texts through the frequencies with which various options in system networks of transitivity are selected in the texts of a particular discourse voice. But to characterize their 'axiological' semantic relations, it is not sufficient to rely on the options thus far described for Halliday's interpersonal metafunction systems, important as these are. As indicated above, we do not just create relationships of offering and demanding, solidarity and distance, dominance and subordination, etc. with interlocutors; we also, and crucially for the sociologically significant meaning differences of heteroglossia, construct attitudes and evaluations toward our own and others' discourses.

In his current work on 'Appraisal,' Martin (in press) is developing system network descriptions of our semantic options for evaluating people, things, and phenomena. In my own earlier work on heteroglossia (Lemke 1992, 1995b), I had begun to identify some of the typical sorts of evaluations and attitudes we make towards facts, propositions, proposals, and discourses. After this work was completed, a corpus-analysis study by Francis (1995) came to my attention and I was struck by the almost total identity between the semantic classes her data revealed for a particular lexicogrammatical frame (see below) and those I had found in the text semantics of evaluation. I realized that what we were both seeing reflected an apparently rather fundamental principle of the semantics of English, and one that could provide the key to analyzing attitudinal meaning, at least for the evaluations of propositions and proposals so important in heteroglossia.

3.0 "It is (very) ... that ..."

Francis' (1995) data showed that if we consider occurences of sentences or clauses of the form:

(1) It is ... that ...

where that introduces an embedded (rank-shifted) noun clause, and the extraposed it is is followed by an adjective, then the adjectives which occur in this frame fall into a small number of semantic classes, all of which are in some basic sense evaluative epithets. If we apply a systemic-functional analysis to this structure (cf. Halliday 1985), we realize that it most usually occurs when the adjective is an Attribute, the noun clause its Carrier, and the noun clause represents a Fact or proposition, if realis (see Halliday 1985: 243-248), or some sort of proposal or possibility (if irrealis). So, what I believe the empirical data are telling us is that, in English at least, the only semantic attributes that propositions and proposals can have are evaluative ones. Further support for this comes from the fact that all these attributes are gradable and can be further qualified quasi-quantitatively by degrees. Francis' frame now becomes a useful test for the hypothesis and a useful heuristic for exploring the semantics of evaluation, at least in the domain of propositions and proposals:

(2) It is (Degree) [Attribute: evaluative] that [Proposition/Proposal]

e.g. It is very important that John is coming / that John come.

In the case of irrealis proposals, as we will see, English sometimes requires whether in place of that and also allows non-finite complement clauses introduced by to or for ... to.

So, what are the possible evaluative attributes of propositions and proposals?

4.0 The Evaluative Dimensions

It is useful to think of language as giving us resources for positioning propositions and proposals somewhere in a multi-dimensional semantic space. On each dimension the proposition (hereafter I will distinguish proposals only as needed) has a position that can be either positive to some specified degree, or negative to some degree. It is also a characteristic of the semantics of evaluative attributes of propositions that they are bi-polar: for every positive attribute there is a complementary negative one. I present here, with some made-up examples to simplify giving a sense of the possibilities, my best current glosses for the basic evaluative semantic dimensions (Table 1).


Evaluative Attributes of Propositions and Proposals


It is simply wonderful that John is coming / that John may come.

It is really horrible that John is coming / that John may come.


It is quite possible that John is coming / that John may come.

It is very doubtful that/whether John is coming.


It is quite necessary that John come / that John is coming.

It is entirely appropriate that John come / that John is coming.


It is quite normal that John is coming / may come.

It is highly surprising that John is coming / may come.


It is very important that John is coming / may come.

It is really quite trivial that John is coming / may come.


It is perfectly understandable that John is coming / that John may come.

It is quite mysterious that John is coming / why John is coming.


It is just hilarious that John is coming! / that John may come.

It is ironic that John is coming / may come.

It is very serious that John is coming / may come.

Examination of Table 1 will show that each of the dimensions could be elaborated into a large set of semantically related evaluative epithets, as well as that there are subtleties which I am not going to explore here, especially regarding irrealis proposals. Note also that, for example, a lexical item such as important, when evaluating a proposal (irrealis), such as It is important that John come, realizes a different semantic dimension from the same item evaluating a proposition assumed to be true: It is important that John is coming. Only the latter case corresponds to the semantic dimension of Importance/Significance (we do not say, *It is very significant that John come.). A single lexical item may also realize the conflation of two or more evaluations, as miraculous realizes both Unusual and Desirable, but alarming Unusual and Undesirable. A partial test for whether two items x and y share a common semantic dimension is whether it is sensible ordinarily to say: It is very (x ) but not at all (y) that .... Where this makes sense, the attributes are relatively independent, and otherwise belong to the same semantic class.

Inspection of Table 1 will also show many readers the close kinship between the semantics of propositional evaluations and Halliday's analysis of modality in the clause (Halliday 1985: 334-340; see also Martin 1995). Lexicogrammatical Modalizations for probability and usuality in the clause are one way of realizing the semantic evaluations I call Warrantability and Usuality. Modulations for obligation and inclination realize Normativity and Desirability, respectively. There are many lexicogrammatical ways to realize these semantic options, e.g.:

John must be coming. (Modal auxiliary)

John is certainly coming. (Modal adverb)

It is certain that John is coming. (Evaluative epithet/Objective orientation)

I am certain that John is coming. (Evaluative epithet/Subjective orientation)

It is a certainty that John is coming. (Evaluative nominalization)

I know that John is coming. (Modal projection: mental process)

These variants are not perfectly synonymous in their total meaning potentials, of course, but they occupy the same relative positions in systems of semantic contrast for evaluative meaning (e.g. must be/may be, certainly/probably, certain/probable, certain/of the opinion, a certainty/a good possibility, know/think). Extended discourse gives us many more means (see below).

Halliday (1985: 333) early on recognized evaluative attributes of propositions and proposals as one of the 'interpersonal grammatical metaphors' by which modality might alternatively be realized. But if we start from a strategy of identifying such attributes directly, then we find a somewhat larger set of semantic options. It is not clear that Importance, Seriousness, and Comprehensibility can have realizations as direct modifications of Process in the clause, in the same way that Warrantability, Usuality, Normativity, and Desirability can. We also find that Desirability is rather larger as a semantic class than what might be imagined from the case of Modulation:Inclination, comprising not simply what we might be keen to do, but all that we may be keen on, once done or happened. Perhaps when we are in a position to overview the evaluative semantics of actions and events, as well as of propositions and proposals, we will better understand how the basic evaluative dimensions map onto various domains of evaluands somewhat differently. It is certainly also true that the three extra dimensions are much less frequently salient in the registers I have examined compared to those which have Modality realizations.

5.0 Evaluations in Newspaper Editorials: The Corpus

Seeking a small text corpus where I would be likely to find a high density of evaluations, I chose to look at newspaper editorials. I wanted to see how comprehensively the seven dimensions could classify instances of evaluations of propositions and proposals, how frequently each dimension was realized in this typically evaluative register, what were the most typical lexicogrammatical means for expressing these evaluations, and most of all what happens when we look at evaluations in connected text.

From a larger corpus of newspaper editorials culled from what was available at the time in digital files on the Internet, I selected for close analysis 7 editorials from three newspapers: the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Irish Times of Dublin. These all address middle to upper-middle class readerships, and we would expect to find a wide range of lexicogrammatical and discourse devices employed, including all the various 'grammatical metaphors' for modality. This is certainly the case. Table 2 describes the relevant features of this mini-corpus.

Table 2. The Newpaper Editorials Corpus

7 editorials from 3 newspapers (NY Times, Boston Globe, Irish Times)

2676 words, 116 sentences, 218 finite clauses

418 Evaluators: 3.6 per sentence; 1.9 per finite clause

199 Desirability, Inclination 47%

71 Warrantability, Probability 17%

61 Normativity, Obligation 14%

85 Usuality, Expectedness 20%

27 Importance, Significance 6%

6 Comprehensibility, Mystery 1.4%

0 Seriousness, Humor 0

In Table 2 'evaluators' refers to lexicogrammatically segmentable elements of a text which function, as a whole, to evaluate one or more other elements along one or more of the seven evaluative semantic dimensions. An evaluator was counted only once in the totals, even if it evaluated another element on more than one dimension. There is some uncertainty about criteria for segmenting evaluators in connected text for reasons that will become clear later (see on propagation of evaluations below), but with relatively consistent criteria, the percentages for each dimension represent fairly robust results. Desirability is more than twice as common as Warrantability, Normativity, and Usuality, which occur with roughly equal frequency, and Importance occurs about half as often as they do. Comprehensibility was evaluated only sporadically in these texts, and Seriousness not at all.

The relative frequencies of some of the most common lexicogrammatical forms which these evaluators took can be seen in Table 3.

Table 3. Frequency of Types of Grammatical Realizations:

65 Attributive adjectives of quality 16%

18 Attributives from Processes 4%

91 Finite verbs (without modals) 22%

30 Modals (including emphatic polars) 7%

45 Nominalized Processes 11%

50 Abstract nouns (not from Process) 12%

10 Concrete nouns 2%

54 Complete nominal groups or prepositional.phrases 13%

37 Adverbs 9%

20 Idiomatic expresions 4.7%

Some of the categories used in Table 3 are also ones for which universally applicable criteria cannot be easily given, and some few items could have been equally well placed in another of these categories. The figures given are merely meant to be illustrative and not definitive. Most significantly, they show, I think, that there was a considerable diversity of lexicogrammatical means for evaluations employed in these texts.

There was also another, rather remarkable feature of this register. As can be seen in Table 2, there were on average about 2 explicit evaluators per finite clause. This shows the very high density of evaluations in this text. What is more remarkable is that, across all three newspapers, the range was only from 1.7 to 2.4 per clause, and within the two papers for which there are three editorials each, the figures were: 2.15, 2.3, 2.0 and 1.7, 1.6, 1.75. I think these figures shows how consistently writers unconsciously adopt the features of a register or local style, and they perhaps also indirectly argue for the consistency with which the criteria were applied in the analysis. These figures appeared only at the end, when a table was created from the raw data produced by the close analysis.

6.0 Examples of Editorial Evaluations

I would now like to offer some real textual examples of evaluations on each of the six semantic dimensions represented in the corpus. What appears when we go to actual text is that there is a tremendous interdependence of different evaluations. As Martin (1992: 553-559) and others have noted, the realizations of interpersonal meanings, including modalities and attitudes, tend to be more 'prosodic' than the more segmentable and localized realizations of ideational meanings. We can interpret this as saying that redundant, qualifying, and amplifying or restricting components of the overall evaluation are spread out through the clause, clause-complex, or even longer stretches of text. As this happens, they overlap with other evaluative meanings, and practiced writers find ways to smoothly integrate the results through delicate lexical choices and grammatical interdependencies. It will also become clear that evaluations of propositions and proposals are not independent in connected text from evaluations of the participants, processes, and circumstances within propositions or proposals. The evaluators counted in Tables 2 and 3 include those which evaluate most directly a semantic element of a proposition (other than themselves) as well as a whole proposition. Since nominalizations of various sorts are also common in this register, what is a proposition at one point in a text readily becomes 'condensed' (see Lemke 1990) as a participant at another, and participants (especially abstract nominals) are often meant to be correspondingly 'expanded' by the reader into implied propositions through reference to some known intertext, as well as through reference to the immediate co-text.

6.1 Desirability:

(3) FORTUNATELY, the Senate has shown that it can rein in THE EXCESSES OF the House. (Contract 4.1)

Evaluators are shown in upper-case. (Citations to the corpus are by nickname of the editorial, followed by consecutive paragraph number, and consecutive sentence number within paragraph. See Appendix for sources of the editorials.) Here we have a sentence adverb evaluating on Desirability the entire proposition which follows. In context, excesses also carries forward the evaluation of negative Desirability; it is an evaluative nominal, conflating negative Desirability with its ideational meaning. It can also be expanded, from co-text and known intertexts, into a proposition about what the House has done. Note also that it can serve as an evaluative epithet directly in our test frame: It is really quite excessive that .... I have not highlighted here shown, which is an evaluator on another dimension (Warrantability).

6.2 Warrantability:

(4) Western experts BELIEVE that the largely untapped oil and natural gas riches of the Caspian Sea countries COULD MAKE that region the Persian Gulf of the next century. (Game 1.2)

Here we have a mental process believe projecting a proposition and at the same time evaluating it for Warrantability. The same evaluation is then carried forward within the proposition by the epistemic modal auxiliary could within the verbal group. There are also evaluations of Desirability here, by lexical choice (untapped, riches) and by intertextual connotation (Persian Gulf).

6.3 Normativity:

(5) At the same time, change is urgently NEEDED to ALLOW it to fill a dangerous vacuum. (North 1.4)

This sentence presents a double evaluation of Normativity: what is needed is that something (recoverable by cohesive reference) change, and what is allowed is that something (again recoverable) fill the vacuum. We find a characteristic Degree of enhancement for the first evaluation in urgently. There is also clearly an evaluation of Desirability by dangerous (cf. It is very dangerous that this vacuum exists.)

6.4 Usuality:

(6) SURPRISINGLY, despite all the caterwauling from ..., the party's MAINSTREAM MAJORITY may slowly be bending G.O.P. policy to fit their libertarian views on abortion. (Dole 1.2)

The sentence adverb again evaluates, this time for Usuality (negatively, i.e. contrary to what is usual or expected), all that follows. Within the proposition, mainstream majority resumes the theme of what is or is not usual, but in a separate evaluation, ostensibly conflated with the Actor within the main finite clause, yet extending semantically to the non-finite proposition (via the cohesive link their), semantically akin to: In the majority of cases (i.e. usually) Republicans (members of the G.O.P.) hold libertarian views on abortion.

6.5 Significance:

(7) To say this is not to deny THE SIGNIFICANCE OF symbols; only to question the extent to which they should BE CENTRAL TO the debate about effective policing in the light of negotiated change in political and social structures. (North 5.2)

Here we again find the attribute nominalized and transferred from a proposition (that certain things are important as symbols) to one participant symbols. This theme is then picked up in a later clause in which the idiom be central to functions as a locative metaphor for the evaluative attribute Important.

6.6 Comprehensibility:

(8) There are NO EASY ANSWERS to the problem of policing arrangements in the North. (North 1.1)

The examples of Comprehensibility in this small corpus (there are only six candidates) are all rather indirect ones. Reference is made to 'shadowy arrangements' to things being 'complicated' and here to a lack of 'easy answers'. My interpretation in these cases is that part of what is being meant is that a situation or proposition is not obvious and easily comprehensible but in some way unclear or mysterious. In our test frame, we can certainly expect forms like It is obvious that ... and I am fairly confident of including this dimension. Francis (1995: 53) also finds examples and alots them their own gloss ('obviousness'). In this particular example we see the pervasive tendency for metaphorical transfer among the evaluative semantic dimensions and, here, the closely related semantics of Ability. What is being evaluated is the problem, which here is again a nominalization expandable as a proposition (and already including a negative evaluation of Desirability). The answers or solutions are not easy (sc. to find) when the problem is difficult or complicated, the situation problematic or unclear. The answers are not obvious because the situation described by the (implied) proposition is not.

6.7 At the borders: Ability, Seriousness, Temporality and Temporariness

I will not make any further comments about the rarest dimension, seriousness/ humorousness. It seems to be something of a marginal or borderline case, with relatively few lexical realizations that fit the test frame and some awkwardness with many following propositions. It did not occur in the editorials corpus. There is also an interesting borderline case, which I take to be, like Ability, not an evaluative attribute of propositions as such, but which seems to be intimately related in its semantics.

Ability is listed by Francis (1995) on purely statistical grounds as one of the classes of adjectives in the frame It is (possible, difficult, easy) to .... It does not occur in the same semantic sense when followed by Fact clauses (i.e. is to be distinguished in meaning from It is possible that ...). What is formally similar is here semantically quite different in that Ability is an evaluative attribute of Persons or Things as agents and not of propositions or proposals as such. It is possible for John to come or It is possible to see John coming are evaluations of the Ability of John or of the speaker to do something, and not evaluations (as in It is possible that John is coming) by the speaker of a proposal or proposition about John. It can contribute only indirectly to such evaluations (see below).

The more nearly borderline case which I have identified from analysis of the corpus occurs 14 times, distributed among 5 of the 7 editorials. It often collocates with Usuality judgments, and I propose to call it Temporality or Temporariness. These are judgments that states of affair have changed, are newly arisen, or only occur momentarily -- and so cannot be taken as Usual. In some cases these locutions clearly evaluate something as Not-Usual. In other cases they only imply this rather indirectly. For example:

(9) Proudly, justly, Palestinians have long insisted that ONCE THEY WERE FREE of Israeli occupation they intended to construct a polity different from the police states surrounding them in the Arab world. (PLO 1.1)

Here have long insisted does evaluate for Usuality, at least in an aspectual sense of habitual action, and in once they were free we sense, here still as irrealis, a punctual temporality, a possible change or new beginning, something that would clearly not correspond to the Usual state of affairs in the judgment of the writer. Note that the theme of what is or would not be Usual in the Arab world is taken up again with different from ... surrounding ....

(10) The Republicans' cramped vision of limited government has won, FOR NOW. (Contract 1.7)

In this example, for now is focal and emphatic, and clearly implies a temporariness for the state of affairs being evaluated, as if to say: It is only temporarily that .... Not a precise fit with our test frame, but rather close. I think we need a fuller understanding of how the semantics of Usuality relate to those of Aspect and Time generally.

7.0 Evaluations and Text Semantics

As I have argued elsewhere (Lemke 1988a, 1988b, 1995b) when we consider the meanings made by extended, cohesive texts that are not made in individual clauses, we often encounter phenomena of language that reveal new semantic resources at the text level. This is particularly true for the semantics of evaluation because of its tendency toward 'prosodic' realizations, i.e. realizations that tend to be distributed through the clause and across clause and sentence boundaries. We have already seen some limited examples above. I would like to note two kinds of text semantic phenomena in the editorials corpus: evaluative metaphor and the textual propagation of evaluations.

7.1 Evaluative Metaphor and Prosodic Overlap

When I say It is important that John come, I am not mainly speaking about the Significance of an act, but trying to convey its Normativity: Necessity (in a milder degree). It is important that John come is far closer in meaning to John really must come or We need John to come than it is to The fact that John is coming is quite significant. The lexical item and its ideational meaning are only the gateway here; having entered it, we are swept along a metaphorical transference from the expected dimension of Significance to the actual evaluation of Normativity. There are many other cases in which we fairly liberally substitute one kind of evaluation for another, when the context makes clear which one we are really getting at. But this simple metaphoric process (one it seems to me rather on the border between lexical metaphor and grammatical metaphor; cf. Halliday 1985: 320) becomes in practice quite complicated as we examine how prosodic overlap between different evaluative themes in a text facilitates the shifting and overlaying of different evaluative meanings. I will offer two examples.

(11) But in an era when candidates are too often marketed like toothpaste, campaign discourse can descend to the level of hucksterism. (Reckless 2.1)

How are we to interpret the evaluative force of too often here? The basic lexis invokes the semantics of Usuality: it is usual, the writer says, that candidates are marketed like toothpaste. The Degree, too, however, carries an ideational sense of Excess, which is implicitly evaluative for negative Desirability. More fundamentally, we observe in our culture a basic logical principle that if something is bad, more of it is worse. That marketing candidates like toothpaste is bad is construed by the extension back to this clausal proposition of the very strong negative Desirability evaluators in the following clause: descend, hucksterism. The ideational link between the clauses is not very explicit; one needs some interpretive skill to identify campaign discourse with marketing candidates (the missing links are supplied by way of collocations specific to relevant intertextual thematic formations, cf. Lemke 1983, 1985). But in terms of evaluational meanings, there is first the contrast in Importance that can be assumed between candidates and toothpaste, and while the latter may not be intrinsically un-Desirable, identifying something Important with something so un-Important potentially is, and this potentiality is activated in the text by the overlapping un-Desirability of an excess, signalled by too. Prosodically we hear a sustained tone of un-Desirability which rides at one point on top of a high degree of Usuality. Each reinforces the other. As we listen more closely we realize that in an era already begins to invoke Usuality, that what is Usual here is also un-Desirable, and the fact that it is very Usual makes it even more un-Desirable. The salience of the ideational meaning of Usuality, that something is simply Frequent, is rather low here compared to the dominant tone of un-Desirability. We could say, and similar cases abound in the corpus, that Usuality here is functioning as a kind of close grammatical metaphor for Un-Desirability, or perhaps more precisely that insofar as the two kinds of evaluative meanings overlap and support one another textually, while the meaning of Usuality remains, its evaluative force contributes also to producing un-Desirability of a high degree.

(12) A compact that addressed those concerns, while equitably sharing profits among the Caspian states and foreign investors, could make all a winner in this complicated game. (Game 6.1)

There are a lot of evaluations going on in this single sentence (Desirability, Warrantability, Comprehensibility, perhaps Normativity). If we focus on the modal could and ask about its evaluative force, what it tells us about how the writer seems to view the warrantability, desirability, etc. of the matters written of, we see first of all a middle degree of Warrant: this proposal could be true, is probably true (the degree, or Value, in Halliday's terminology for modalization would be Low on purely lexical grounds, but is raised by contextual factors I do not discuss here). But a competent reader of this text is also going to understand that what is going on here semantically is not primarily an estimate of probability but a proposal for desirable action. The complete verbal phrase here is an idiom: could make all a winner, and winner marks the Desirability and all amplifies its degree. So we have also a second interpretation, that could stands here in its ideational role of realizing Ability, sc. that of the compact being proposed. The prosody of Desirability here rides on top of the semantics of both Ability and Warrantability. If the compact is able to do it, that's desirable. If it's probable that the compact will do it, that's Desirable. And the compact and the implied proposition about it becomes more Desirable insofar as its Ability to perform as claimed is the more highly warranted as true or likely. One could say here that Ability and Warrantability are functioning as metaphors for Desirability of the implied action, but as we see the full situation is more complicated.

7.2 The Phenomena of Evaluative Propagation

We have already begun to see examples of what is to me the most fascinating of the text semantic phenomena surrounding evaluative meanings. If we consider evaluators as semantic operators, and ask what is their scope, i.e. to what precisely does their evaluation extend -- we find that quite often evaluations propagate or ramify through a text, following the grammatical and logical links that organize it as structured and cohesive text as opposed to a mere sequence of unrelated words and clauses.

As Hasan (1984, 1989) has emphasized, connected text is organized by two complementary principles, which she has termed 'structure' and 'texture'. In the former case we find multivariate patterns where the juxtaposition of functionally (and sometimes also formally) differentiated parts A--B--C--D comprise a whole. The functional and syntactic structures of the clause or nominal group are common examples. In the case of texture, a number of elements, otherwise isolated, are linked through a text to form a 'chain' by virtue of their semantic relations to one another (such as co-reference, synonymy, etc.). As we will see, evaluations can propagate from one element of a structure to another, as well as along cohesive chains, but they can also create cohesive chains.

7.21 Evaluative Cohesion

Co-evaluation, along the same dimension (and more definitively if also similar in polarity and degree, but this is not necessary), can create cohesive links between separated elements of a text that are not readily construed by the usual cohesive devices. For example:

(13) Meanwhile, A GROWING NUMBER of Republican politicians, including Christine Todd Whitman and William Weld, have developed the stiffer spines that were OUT OF FASHION among Eastern Republicans during the Bush years. (Dole 4.3)

I believe that part of the cohesiveness of this text is contributed by the fact that both a growing number and out of fashion construe meaning on the evaluative dimension of Usuality. In fact, they are in semantic contrast in this text, even though they are not lexically in any sense antonyms. The first contributes to an evaluation of Usuality:Frequency, and the second to Usuality:Expectability.

7.22 Syntactic Propagation

Within the clause evaluative stances toward one structural element (participant, process, circumstantial) may transfer their evaluation to another element. If we exclude the explicit evaluators which work this way (attitudinal Attributes/Epithets which evaluate their Carriers/Things, auxiliaries which modalize their Head verb, and process nouns derived from verbs of explicit evaluation), there are still a host of other phenomena. It is particularly interesting that the Polarity of these evaluations can be reversed during propagation (Degree normally propagates unchanged) by a large number of very common locutions. Consider, for example:

(14) Since 1980, the Republican platform has opposed abortion without exceptions and promoted an ammendment to ban the procedure. (Dole 3.2)

The evaluations within this text depend on a single variable which must be assigned intertextually: the Desirability of abortion. The rest of the elements of the text received evaluations on the dimension of Desirability indirectly once a value is assigned to this keystone. If we take abortion (or here the right to it) to be Desirable, then to oppose something Desirable is un-Desirable (propagation from Range to Process, with reversal of polarity), and the more so with a high Degree (without exceptions). But the propagation does not stop with the Process, for whatever opposes the Desirable is itself to that extent un-Desirable, i.e. the Republican platform. If we start from the co-referent the procedure, we have a propagation by cohesive tie from abortion, and so must consistently take the procedure to be Desirable, hence banning something Desirable would be un-Desirable (Range to Process with reversal), what does this banning is also un-Desirable (Process to Do-er), sc. an ammendment. Promoting this undesirable thing is un-Desirable (Range to Process, no reversal), and so finally once again, what promotes is un-Desirable, namely the same Republican platform.

It is quite common that a reader needs intertextual knowledge of the writer's probable assignment of value polarity to key well-known elements in order to trace out the evaluations in the text. In the case above, one logically assumes that the Republican platform evaluates abortion as un-Desirable. Inter- and co-textually it is clear that the editorialist evaluates it as Desirable, and so these counter-evaluations are also functioning to set up a 'heteroglossic opposition' (Lemke 1995b) between the writing and referenced discourse voices. It is also quite common that it is the ideational semantics of processes which determines whether they can propagate an evaluation and whether the polarity will reverse or not. So to increase, amplify, support, promote something Desirable, is Desirable, and to decrease, oppose, resist, limit it is un-Desirable, etc.

7.23 Projective Evaluation

(15) Thomas Parker, a lecturer in education at Boston University, predicts a dramatic rise in self-learning and ... (Education 5.1)

In this very typical example, what is at stake is Warrantability, the writer's view of the probability of something someone else is saying. Lexically predicts is a projecting process (verbum dicendi, cf. Halliday 1985: 196-198) that has relatively low warrantability; we assume that predicting the future is at best an uncertain matter. But the reliability of predictions, and so the Warrantability of the proposition predicted, rises if we specify a credible Sayer for the process, here a lecturer in education at Boston University. Note that the force of credibility arises intertextually and heteroglossically (what is the default credibility of university lecturers, of lecturers in education, of lecturers at Boston University?) but also internally and ideationally insofar as a lecturer (cf. expert) in education is Sayer for a prediction about self-learning (as opposed to, say, about soybean futures). Here and elsewhere the evaluation of the Sayer as reliable (perhaps the analogue for evaluations of Persons to Warrantability for propositions) propagates to increase the Warrantability of the proposition projected, and characterizing the Sayer as unreliable decreases it. The ideational meaning of the projecting verb, determining a default Warrantability for what is projected, interacts with the reliability of the Sayer and the Warrantability of the proposition considered in isolation from the projection. Sayers associated with intrinsically Warrantable Sayings gain in reliability, credibility, and vice versa.

Projective evaluations can carry across several clauses or sentences, but we will consider here some more interesting cases of propagation of evaluations across more extended text.

7.24 Extended Prospective and Retrospective Evaluation

(16) Mr. Dole's appearance on "Meet the Press" last Sunday was NOTABLE for two things. (Dole 2.1)

Here the evaluation is on the dimension of Importance, and sentence 2.1 both sets up a cataphoric reference chain (two things) and prospectively evaluates the future contents of that chain, which extends over the following three sentences, as Important (notable).

(17) The pettiness of this attempt to bully the Palestinian press into the subservient posture of a propaganda organ for Arafat's cult of personality belies earlier hopes and promises. (PLO 6.1) Sadly, it has become part of A PATTERN OF authoritarian governance. (PLO 6.2)

As we initially read the first sentence, its evaluative concerns are tightly focussed on Desirability. We see the use of belies to reverse the polarity of hopes and promises in a syntactic-structural propagation that makes the pettiness not only undesirable in itself, but un-Desirable on this second count as well. It in turn of course functions mainly as evaluator of this attempt to bully ..., and there is no relief from the negative tonality except at the end (hopes and promises), and there only to reverse back on the core evaluand. The second sentence begins with a continuation of this negative Desirability (sadly), but suddenly we find a Usuality evaluator (a pattern of) which operates through the syntax of Identification (has become) to evaluate it as Usual, and this retrospectively ramifies up back up the reference chain once again to the primary evaluand, this attempt to bully .... Note that grammatically it ought to refer to pettiness, as belies ought also to propagate syntactically to it, but it is our sense of the evaluative meanings here, of what is being evaluated, that disambiguates the anaphoric reference. All the Desirability evaluators point to a single evaluand, and it is not pettiness, which is itself one of these evaluators. So we take the Usuality evaluation to operate on that same evaluand, even retrospectively and across a sentence boundary.

While my examples have often featured Desirability evaluations, I hope it is clear that all of these phenomena occur for all the evaluative dimensions. There are also much longer range cohesive propagations, as well as structural ones that depend on relations among elements of genre structure or rhetorical units and which can span very long distances in the text.

8.0 Conclusion

I have not attempted here to present either a fully systematic or an exhaustive account of evaluative meaning resources, even for propositions and proposals. That would be a very large subject indeed, as I hope I have suggested here. My aim has been to describe some of the interesting phenomena I have encountered and to stimulate others to carry forward the more painstaking and throrough studies required to enhance our knowledge of evaluative meaning resources.

I believe that this area of investigation is important and will be rewarding, not simply as an area of the grammar and its semantics until now relatively little explored, nor even as a revealing example of how orientational-interpersonal meanings are realized differently in text than more familiar ideational ones, but because of its significant applications in discourse analysis. We know that it is not just what people believe, but also the values we hold about what we believe which tend to shape our actions. We also know that an understanding of micro- and macro-social relations through the analysis of texts and discourse requires that we be able to map out the heteroglossic relations among the different discourse voices and valuational viewpoints in a community. Finally, it is certainly reasonable to suppose that part of what we do when we mobilize the evaluative resources of language is to help constitute our own identities, and the identities of others, as agents who believe and doubt, desire and detest, and judge importance, appropriateness, usuality, comprehensibility, and seriousness. For all these reasons we need a more adequate linguistic account of this critical function of language: evaluation.

Appendix: Sources of the Editorials

The New York Times

Contract = "The Contract, Partly Fulfilled", August 20, 1995

Dole = "Call Him Mr. Flexible", December 20, 1995

Game = "The New Great Game in Asia", January 2, 1996

The Boston Globe

Education = "Upgrading Public Education", January 4, 1996

PLO = "The Unliberated PLO", December 28, 1995

Reckless = "Reckless Attacks on Start II", January 4, 1996

The Irish Times

North = "Policing the North", January 4, 1996.


Bakhtin, M. (1935) Discourse in the novel. In M. Holquist (ed.) The Dialogic Imagination (1981). Austin TX: University of Texas Press.

Francis, G. (1995) Corpus-driven grammar and its relevance to the learning of English in a cross-cultural situation. In A. Pakir (ed.) English in Education: Multicultural Perspectives. Singapore: Unipress.

Gee, J.P. (1990) Social Linguistics and Literacies. London: Falmer Press.

Gregory, M. (1967) Aspects of varieties differentiation. Journal of Linguistics 3: 177-198.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1977) Text as semantic choice in social context. In van Dijk, T. A. and Petöfi, J. (Eds.) Grammars and Descriptions. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Halliday, M.A.K. (1985) An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Edward Arnold.

Hasan, R. (1984) Coherence and Cohesive Harmony. In J. Flood (ed.) Understanding Reading Comprehension. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Hasan, R. (1989) The structure of a text. In M.A.K. Halliday and R. Hasan, Language, Context, and Text. London: Oxford University Press.

Lemke, J.L. (1983) Thematic analysis: Systems, structures, and strategies. Semiotic Inquiry 3(2): 159-187.

Lemke, J.L. (1985) Ideology, intertextuality, and the notion of register. In J.D. Benson and W.S. Greaves (eds.) Systemic Perspectives on Discourse. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Lemke, J.L. (1988) Discourses in conflict: Heteroglossia and text semantics." In J. D. Benson and W. S. Greaves (eds.) Systemic Functional Approaches to Discourse. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing. 29-50.

Lemke, J.L. (1988b) Text structure and text semantics. In R. Veltman and E. Steiner (eds.) Pragmatics, Discourse, and Text . London: Pinter. 158-170.

Lemke, J.L. (1990) Technical discourse and technocratic ideology. In M. A. K. Halliday, John Gibbons, and Howard Nicholas (eds.) Learning, Keeping, and Using Language: Selected Papers from the 8th AILA World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Vol. II. . Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 435-460.

Lemke, J.L. (1992) Interpersonal Meaning in Discourse: Value Orientations. In M. Davies and L. Ravelli (eds.) Advances in Systemic Linguistics: Recent Theory and Practice. London: Pinter. 82-104.

Lemke, J.L. (1995a) Textual Politics: Discourse and Social Dynamics. London: Taylor & Francis.

Lemke, J.L. (1995b) Intertextuality and text semantics. In M. Gregory and P. Fries (eds.) Discourse in Society: Functional Perspectives Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing. 1995. [pp.85-114]

Martin, J.R. (1992) English Text. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Martin, J.R. (1995) Interpersonal meaning, persuasion, and public discourse. Australian Journal of Linguistics 15: 33-67.

Martin, J.R. (in press) Beyond exchange: Appraisal systems in English. In S. Hunston and G. Thompson (eds.) Evaluation in Text. London: Oxford University Press.