Visualizing Appraisal Prosody
Michele Zappavigna, Chris Cléirigh, Paul Dwyer and J. R. Martin1
9.1 Introduction: Appraisal Prosody
Appraisal prosody refers to the patterning of evaluation in a text. Evaluative
patterns are prosodic in the sense that they are not reducible to constituent
parts but instead resonate across the text as it unfolds in time (Halliday, 1981;
Martin and White, 2005). This means that their boundaries are fuzzy rather
than distinct (Macken-Horarik, 2003a). Appraisal patterns construe meanings
that are interpersonal, that is, they are about negotiating the nature of the rela-
tionship of interactants. Cléirigh (in preparation) suggests that interpersonal
meaning is always on standby for performing this function:
The interpersonal dynamics of the clause can then be understood as intrud-
ing on demand as an onrush, a surge, a billowing of the chemical ‘sea within’.
Interpersonal potential is, in a sense, vigilant in the background, waiting for
opportunities to burst out through the surface of form into the foreground
Along with the wave metaphor deployed above, metaphors that have been used
to characterize interpersonal patterning include crescendo and diminuendo
of a musical prosody (Martin and Rose, 2003), chord progressions (Macken-
Horarik, 2003b), movement of motifs (Halliday and Mattheissen, 2004), propa-
gation (Lemke, 1998) and radiation (Hood, 2006).
Appraisal prosody is both local and global in nature, being visible in a single
clause and in extended portions of discourse. Poynton (1984) suggests two
types of prosodic structure: diffuse and compact prosodies. For example, con-
sider the following:
Christ they bloody well beat the living daylights out of those LOUSY ROTTEN
Poynton (1984, p. 23) argues that the items marked in italics above are part of
a diffuse prosody of negative attitude, while the items in capitals are ‘a subset of
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 151
this attitudinal lexis which seems more constituent-like insofar as it is localized’.
Diffuse prosodies are involved in long-range text patterns. For example, Macken-
Horarik (2003, p. 307), in work very relevant to the prosodic structure explored
in this chapter, has suggested the role of ‘opposing appraisal choices’ in creat-
ing contrasts in phases of narrative discourse.
However, if we are to talk convincingly about long-range evaluative pattern-
ing then we face the problem that our evidence is somewhat intractable: the
patterns we are interested in extend beyond a single page or screen, in essence
they extend beyond what we can hold in consciousness in a given moment.
Thus, when working with our Youth Justice Conference (YJC) data we found
that we required visualization strategies to supplement the work of close
discourse analysis. These visualizations were intended to make sense of the
appraisal patterns annotated in the Affray YJC transcript following the system
networks proposed by Martin and White (2005). In contrast to most descriptive
statistics, this visualization technique preserves logogenesis, the sequencing of
the text, while achieving a synoptic perspective on the prosodic structure.
This chapter aims to explore the long-range appraisal prosody involved in
the discourse of an Ethnic Liaison Of cer (ELO) talking in a NSW YJC. We
begin by introducing the context of situation (Halliday and Mattheissen, 2004),
a conference convened to sentence a young person (YP) who has committed an
affray. We explain the system of 2, a component of appraisal theory
(Martin and White, 2005) that was used to annotate the transcribed video
of the YJC. The ELO’s intervention in the stage of the conference where the YP
is prompted to describe and evaluate his offending behaviour is the focus of the
data analysis. While we begin by exploring the ELO’s verbiage, we also draw
upon gestural and phonological evidence to support our claims about the pro-
sodic structure of his evaluative language. The second part of the chapter
explains a visualization strategy using Stacked Area Graphs to interpret the
unfolding of this evaluative language. We conclude by making some prelimi-
nary suggestions about the role of the prosodic structure in an overall ‘push-
pull’ af liation strategy that is part of the integrative function of the ELO’s
9.2 NSW Youth Justice Conferencing
We take as a case study of a prosody talk between an ELO and a YP in a NSW
YJC convened to sentence the YP for an affray offence. YJCs are meetings held
to sentence a YP who has been convicted of an offence as an alternative to
attending the Children’s Court. They are typically held in a circle con guration
(See Figure 9.1) in which participants are afforded the opportunity to talk
about their experiences and feelings surrounding the offence. These partici-
pants may include the victim of the crime, support persons for both the victim
and the YP, police of cers such as Youth Liaison Of cers and ELOs. For brevity
the conference will be referred to as the Affray YJC.
152 Appliable Linguistics
The texts in our dataset include both observed and video-recorded confer-
ences. We thus adopt a multimodal text analysis strategy that considers both
talk and gesture. In this chapter we focus on evaluative meaning in a single YJC,
the Affray YJC, and use textual, phonological and gestural evidence to support
our claims about the structure of the ELO’s appraisal prosody. The study is
an example of ‘appliable linguistics’ concerned with understanding linguistic
patterns in real-world contexts.
The Affray YJC was one hour and a half in duration. The discourse was tran-
scribed using Transcriber (Boudahmane, Manta, Antoine, Galliano and Barras,
2001) and annotated using ELAN (Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics,
2008). In undertaking our analysis of the video-recorded YJC we were particu-
larly motivated by Bateman’s (2008) focus on nding ways to manage dynamic,
‘multichannel’ data so that our multimodal analysis would remain empirical:
When we move to multimodal documents, we also need to be able to nd
concretely identiable empirical evidence to motivate particular structures
and interpretations rather than others. Only then do we have a foundation
suf ciently rm for further theory building. (Bateman, 2008, p. 187)
Thus, ELAN was chosen as an annotation tool as it allowed us to track multiple
data series while concurrently tracking the time series of the video text. These
data series took the form of different ‘annotation tiers’ (see for example the
tier labelled ‘tone group’ near the bottom of Figure 9.2. Participants have been
blurred for anonymity).
F 9.1 Seating con guration of the ‘Affray YJC’ (blurred to maintain
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 153
F 9.2 An example of tone group analysis performed in ELAN
154 Appliable Linguistics
The Affray conference was video recorded and the researchers also sat in
the conference circle as silent observers. To minimize the visual presence of
recording equipment in the hope of reducing their impact upon conference
participants, video-recordings were made using a camera mounted on a micro-
phone stand recording to DVD. The cameras were positioned in the corners of
the room to further reduce their visual presence (See Figure 9.3).
The manual used in NSW as part of convenors’ training includes a scripted
outline (Youth Justice Conferencing Directorate, 2005) detailing the structure
of a typical conference. This notional script indicates that the convenor should
invite the YP to ‘tell their story’. The YP, however, in the conferences that
we have observed, will rarely produce a packaged recount of events. Both the
details of the offence and related emotion talk are usually jointly constructed
through prompting by the convenor. For this reason we refer to the story that
the YP tells as a Commissioned recount. It typically occurs in the generic
structure of the conference after the gathering and legal framing, and before
the responses by third parties to the YP’s ‘story’ (For an account of the Commis-
sioned recount stage see Martin, Zappavigna and Dwyer, this volume). The
Commissioned recount tends to have the following structure:
Orientation ^ Record of events ^ (Re-orientation) ^ (Extension) ^ Interpre-
tation ^ Rami cations
The talk by the ELO analysed in this chapter is part of the Interpretation
phase of the Commissioned recount stage. We will refer to his contribution to
the Interpretation stage informally as the ‘ELO’s intervention’.
F 9.3 Con guration for recording a YJC
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 155
9.3 The System of Attitude
Within appraisal theory (Martin and White, 2005) is de ned as
‘the region of meaning construing our attitudes to people and the way they
behave – their character (how they measure up)’ (Martin and White, 2005,
p. 52). System networks are used within SFL to model the semiotic choice
involved in creating meanings of this kind. The ELO’s talk was annotated using
the system network in Figure 9.4 (this network is abridged with the
system shown at a greater level of delicacy). Square brackets represent a choice
between different options, while braces indicate choices that may be selected
simultaneously. Diagonal arrows are used to show example realizations of
each path in the network and were taken from the corpus of the ELO’s dis-
course. As this gure indicates, in addition to there are two other
semantic regions that may be occupied by evaluative language, engagement
The ELO’s use of the system is of particular interest due to the
claims that have been made in restorative justice that a conference should cri-
tique the YP’s behaviour rather than their identity in an effort to avoid labelling
the YP as a deviant (Braithwaite, 1989). The ELO explicitly references this kind
We’re not saying, ‘YP, you’re a this and you’re a that’. What we’re saying is
your behaviour is getting you into trouble, man. You’re hurting your family,
9.4 The ELO’s Intervention
The ELO’s intervention in the Commissioned recount comes after the Conve-
nor has attempted to elicit, extend and nally begin to jointly evaluate the YP’s
recount of the events of the affray. In the Interpretation phase proceeding the
intervention it appears that the Convenor has not been able to leverage shared
networks of value that we see the ELO deploy in his wielding of the
system. Instead she relies on questions relating to emotions about family mem-
bers in the hope of eliciting an evaluative response. The Convenor often packs
her evaluation into questions for the YP to con rm (or deny), instead of state-
ments (C = Convenor, YP = Young Person):
C: But do you think it’s reasonable if you’re doing the wrong thing that
she’s telling you off?
C: Why is that?
YP: I’m in the wrong. She has the right to.
156 Appliable Linguistics
F 9.4 Situating within the appraisal system (based on Martin and White, 2005)
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 157
C: Because she is your . . .?
YP: My mum.
C: Yep. And she got upset?
C: Was she crying?
YP: I can’t remember.
C: Screaming and yelling?
YP: I don’t know.
C: What about the rest of your family? What did they think about it? What
did your sister think? Your older sister?
YP: She didn’t tell me what she thinks. I don’t know-
C: Didn’t she? What about your uncle?
YP: I haven’t spoken to him.
Deciding that the proceeding phases have been ineffectual in deploying the
appropriate ‘evaluative levers’, the ELO declares that he will deploy a different
ELO: Listen, I want to take, with you permission, I wanna take a different
angle. OK? Alright. Mate, what’s your mum wearing on her head?
Here the ELO begins by invoking a bonding icon, or ‘bondicon’ (Stenglin,
2004) of the Islamic culture: the Hejab. This bondicon is infused with positive
evaluation and representative of two important values in the culture: respect
for Islam and respect for the mother. These values become to motifs to which
the ELO returns repetitively in his intervention.
After opening, somewhat dramatically, with this bondicon that distinguishes
the ELO and the YP from the other conference participants, the ELO then
begins what will be a sustained contrastive rhetoric by dividing the participants
into members and non-members of the Islamic culture:
ELO: Yeah. OK. What a- where is she now? In the presence of who?
ELO: No, who’s sitting here? Who’s sitting here right now? Have a look
ELO: Have a- m- have a look across what uniform are they wearing?
YP: Police uniform.
ELO: OK. Where are these guys from? They’re from a certain place. OK.
What’s the perception going to be?
YP: Think bad of me.
158 Appliable Linguistics
The division made at the level of discourse semantics is also in the ELO’s
gesture as he tilts his head towards the different participants in the circle. We
now turn to exploring the prosodic structure of the kind of evaluative contrasts
that commenced in this phase.
9.5 The Prosodic Structure of the ELO’s Intervention
The evaluative language deployed by the ELO gives his discourse, from a
layperson’s perspective, the feel of a ‘good cop – bad cop’ routine, while the
Convenor sounds like a stern but caring mother. The ELO’s talk is constituted
by a relatively high frequency of . A sample of this
appraisal is provided in concordance layout in Table 9.1. The is
usually about and the target of this evaluation is typically the
From a corpus-based perspective the discourse involves an overall ‘halo’
(Bednarek, 2006) of negative judgement ( underlined):
You have no respect for your mum whatsoever, brother. You have no respect
for what your mum’s got on her head. You have no respect for our commu-
nity. You have no respect. You tell me, brother, how it’s a part of our culture
or our religion or our tradition to do things like that. You tell me when.
However if we re-factor in time, we see an oscillation of evaluation rather than
a constant level of negative judgement. The ELO alternates between negatively
judging YP’s behaviour and positively judging the cultural identity, of which
the YP is an instance. So, considering , ‘our
community’, ‘our culture’ and ‘our tradition’ are deployed as positive evaluated
tokens of the Lebanese Islamic culture, in which the ELO locates himself (‘I’m
Muslim background myself’). It is this community into which the ELO is calling
the YP to integrate.
Logogenetically, the patterning of is typically construed as the
following proposal ( marked in capitals; -
Table 9.1 Examples of negative judgement in the Affray YJC
Think BAD of me.
your saying to me and
everybody here we can
DISRESPECT your mother.
You have NO RESPECT for your mum whatsoever, brother.
You’ve gotten off on the WRONG FOOT by pretty much abusing the rest of
us here by being late
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 159
It’s what you’re doing that’s no good. You’re probably a GOOD PERSON.
What you’re doing is not good. You understand the difference?
It is also construed as the following rhetorical questions:
what you’re doing does that HELP OUR COMMUNITY at the moment or
does it make our community look worse?
This type of contrastive prosody is constituted by two evaluative prosodies of
opposing polarity running in parallel: one positively evaluating tokens of the
Islamic culture and the other negatively evaluating the YP’s behaviour. So in
effect, what we see is a prosody of prosodies (for a related account of patterns
of patterns see Lemke (1998)) (Figure 9.5).
The ELO uses the contrast between these two evaluative prosodies for rhe-
torical impact. The effect is particularly visible when we consider both
and , that is, evaluation that is explicitly encoded and eval-
uation that is implied ( marked in capitals;
Do you know how easy it is to break the law? It’s so easy. [clicks ngers] It’s
so easy. [clicks ngers] It is so easy. Get in your car, do a u-turn on double
yellow lines, you’re breaking the law. You TRY STAYING OUT OF TROUBLE.
You nd out HOW MUCH OF A MAN it takes, hey?, TO STAY OUT OF
TROUBLE. You tell me which one takes MORE OF A MAN to do. How does
it take MORE OF A MAN to listen to your friends or TO SAY TO YOUR
FRIENDS, ‘No, what you’re doing is wrong’. You tell me.
In the above, there is contrastive play of negatively judged, unlawful conduct
and positively judged ‘masculine’ behaviour (which is unpacked as ethical
F 9.5 Distribution of evaluation across the gesture space
160 Appliable Linguistics
9.6 Gestural and Phonological Evidence
The ELO’s paralanguage accords with the kind of contrastive prosodic struc-
ture explained in the previous section. Both his gestures and phonological pat-
terns emphasize the rhetoric of opposites. For example, the ELO tends to divide
his gesture space into halves, with gestures relating to on
his right, and on his left (the following screen captures
are cropped and blurred for anonymity).
The gestures of ‘left-good’ are made towards the YP, and the ‘right-bad’
align away from the YP. The ELO is associating the YP with good, so valuing him
as a person; he is also urging him to put aside the bad, and rendering those
behaviours as spatially distinct from the YP as a person. The to-and-froing seems
to have a pedagogic function, contrastively evaluating types of behaviour.
The evaluative meanings being contrasted correspond with tonic promi-
nence, making them the informational focus; for example, consider the ELO’s
refocusing of the target of evaluation away from the YP’s identity to the YP’s
behaviour. The excerpt is annotated using Halliday’s (1970) notation scheme,
where each foot begins with the beat, either salient syllable or silent beat and /
= foot boundary, // = tone group boundary:
// 1 Not be/cause of / you as a / person // 1 be/cause of / something
you’re / doing that’s not / right. // 13 We’re / not / targetting you / person-
ally / brother. // 1 It’s / what you’re / doing that’s no / good. // 1 You’re /
probably a / good / person. // 1 What you’re / doing is not / good. //
The instances of tone 1 in this excerpt are tone 1+ (wide drop in pitch on the
tonic) which, according to Davies (1992), typically has a contrastive textual
The ELO’s talk has a ‘pulsed’ character involving a fairly low number of
syllables per foot, generally between one and three. He tends to stress words
which in other contexts might remain unstressed. The feet have fewer than
usual syllables. This means that more words than usual are salient as the ELO
attempts to emphasize the importance of the contrasts that he is making. For
example, the following tone group analysis shows the rhythm of the ELO’s
discourse as he critiques the YP’s behaviour. In this analysis the beat falls on the
next syllable to the right of the single slash.
// You have / no re/spect for your / mum / whatso/ever / brother. // You
have / no re/spect for / what your / mum’s got on her / head. // You have
/ no re/spect for our com/munity. // You have / no re/spect. // You / tell
/ me / brother // when was it / part of /our / culture or // our re/ligion
or // our tra/dition to // do / things / like / that. // You / tell me / when.
// You / show me / where in the ko/ran it / says we can / do things / like /
that. // You / show me / where. // Tell me / where. // Does it? //
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 161
9.7 Using Visualization to Understand the
Global Patterning of Prosodies
When dealing with extended texts or with corpora linguists face the problem of
making their analysis tractable so that they can view long-range prosodic pat-
terns in order to comment about their structure. Visual aids for appreciating
such patterning need to provide to features: an ability to track the unfolding of
the text as a time series and the capacity to represent multiple annotation series.
This is because the linguist is interested in how patterns unfold logogenetically
and how multiple features work together to make meaning. A potential source
of assistance is the eld of Text Visualization, an area related to Information
Visualization and Scienti c Visualization that attempts to leverage the charac-
teristics of human visual perception to present data in ways that make salient
particular kinds of information or patterns.
A metaphor used within Text Visualization for representing time series data
is the ‘stream’. This metaphor has been applied in visualization methods such
as ThemeRiver and StreamGraph (Havre et al., 2002; Byron, 2008; Byron and
Wattenberg, 2008; Clark, 2008). The StreamGraph and ThemeRiver systems
have been used for representing the unfolding of sets of lexical features that
can be automatically extracted from large corpora using natural language pro-
cessing techniques. For example, ThemeRiver has been used to visualize lexis
in Associated Press news wires with some prominent features in the context
marked above the graph (Figure 9.6).
Stacked Area Graphs, a primitive of the StreamGraph technique, is a
technique more appliable to small datasets such as a transcribed text of a YJC.
F 9.6 Themeriver visualization of Associated Press news wire stories
(Havre et al., 2002, p. 12)
162 Appliable Linguistics
This is because it is more amenable to working with smaller, annotated corpora
where we are interested in discourse semantic features that cannot, as yet, be
identi ed automatically in a text by a machine and must be hand-annotated.
Stacked Area Graphs are a form of area graph, a graphing technique where
the space between the data curve and the horizontal axis is shaded (See
Figure 9.7). The vertical axis represents the frequency of the feature and the
horizontal axis the time series. The shaded region represents the number of
instances within a time period.
While an area graph usually shows a single data series, Stacked Area
Graphs represent multiple data series by stacking one on top of the other (See
Figure 9.8). The height of the curve at a given point represents the total fre-
quency of all features at that point and thus each data series should be read as
starting at zero rather than as their accumulative height. This makes the graph-
ing technique most useful to a linguist interested in the general trend of a data
series, or in other words, the qualitative ebb and ow of the annotated appraisal
over the time series. It is also a useful technique for appreciating the relation-
ships between the data series as they unfold by the overall impression of the
relative amount of colour.
The ordering principle applied to the horizontal axis will depend on the
kind of data series that are going to be represented in the graph. In the case of
video data we may use the time series in the video encoding to represent tem-
poral sequencing. In other cases it may be more appropriate to use ‘text time’.
F 9.7 An example of a simple area graph
F 9.8 A simple example of a stacked area graph
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 163
For example, if we are interested in showing the unfolding of negotiation in a
text, we may use exchanges as the unit along the x-axis, with the y-axis showing
the frequency of particular exchange types.
Figure 9.9 is a stacked area graph showing the unfolding of in the
ELO’s intervention. N is shown on the lower data series in
black and on the upper series in grey. The graph depicts
only ELO–YP talk and the blank areas in the graph (e.g. 0:04:00–0:05:30) are
phases in the text when these participants were not talking, typically because
another participant such as the Convenor or Arresting Of cer was speaking.
The ELO’s intervention begins with an accumulation of -
(Figure 9.9, 0:00:00–0:01:50) such as the following:
You wanta be tough. [inaudible] You’re not. Number one. Number two, man.
When I see someone of my own background bringing their mum in wearing
a Hejab, OK, honestly man inside I feel sick. You understand?
After this initial burst of , the patterning in Figure 9.9
shows a ‘to-and-fro’ structure, with generally being fol-
lowed by , shown in the graph as grey and black regions
co-occurring. This provides us with a synoptic perspective on the following kind
of structure ( ;
Mate, if you – if there’s a re do you walk straight into it or do you WALK
However the opposite con guration was also possible:
. . . what it sounds like is if you get a job, you’ll be out of trouble but if you
DON’T GET A JOB, you’ll GET INTO TROUBLE.
F 9.9 Positive and negative judgement (invoked and inscribed) in the ELO’s
164 Appliable Linguistics
The stacked area graph provides us with a view of the evaluative tendencies of
the ELO without losing information about how the appraisal unfolds in terms
of its sequencing.
9.8 Conclusion: Appraisal Prosody and Af liation
The patterning of evaluative language in a text construes ‘the kind of commu-
nity that is being set up around shared values’ (Martin and Rose, 2003, p. 54).
The nal section of this chapter takes up Martin and White (2005) and Knight’s
(2008) ideas about the role of evaluative language in af liation to make some
preliminary assertions about the integrative function of the ELO’s talk. While it
is beyond the scope of this chapter to deal thoroughly with different theories of
af liation, we wish to brie y comment on the relationship of the back-and-forth
movement in the evaluative language to the ELO’s attempts to create solidarity
with the YP.
The appraisal prosody that we have identi ed appears to be involved in the
broader contrastive rhetoric employed by the ELO. The instances where nega-
tively and positively evaluated behaviours are set in opposition to one another
seem to have a pedagogic function, laying out the values that the YP should
hold as part of the Lebanese Islamic community. For example, this community
is contrasted with the YP’s mates network:
ELO: Where’s your mates now?
YP: They’re at home
ELO: At home. Why aren’t they with you, supporting you, brother?
Knight (2008) has suggested that couplings of ideational and evaluative
meanings are involved in the process of af liation. The following is a coupling
of the YP’s behaviour, which has previously been elaborated as breaking the law
and disrespecting his mother, with (Figure 9.10):
The accumulation of coupling such as ‘respect + mother’, ‘respect + Hejab’,
‘respect + community’ has an instructional function. The ELO is attempting to
make transparent the evaluative bonds (Knight, 2008) that the YP should hold
if he is to be part of the local Lebanese Islamic community. The alternation
F 9.10 An example of coupling
Visualizing Appraisal Prosody 165
between presenting appropriate and inappropriate bonds is part of the rhetoric
aimed at integrating the YP into this community.
In tandem with this alternating is a to-and-fro in , that is, in the
negotiation of power and solidarity. The ELO employs vocatives of solidarity of
three main kinds: generation (I’m thirty six, man. I’ve never been spoken to once by
the coppers), ethnicity (ﺍﻝﻡﻥﻁﻕﺓ ﻙﻝﻩﺍ (Kelaha almnteaha bet’heen um), brother [You are
insulting all the area, brother]) and gender4 (Mate, ya- your mate didn’t have to go
down there did he?). ‘Mate’ generally occurred at the beginning of the clause as
a Tone 3 (low rising) (Halliday, 1970) functioning as a warning. ‘Brother’ often
occurred as a Tone 13 (fall + low rise) functioning as a call to pay attention:
Mate (Tone 3), what’s your mum wearing on her head?
You tell me brother (Tone 13) when was it part of our culture or our religion
or our tradition to do things like that.
The overall effect of this kind of patterning seems a kind of push–pull af -
liation where the ELO aligns himself with the YP while concurrently using
the reduction in interpersonal distance as an opportunity to judge the YP’s
behaviour. It is in this sense that the vocatives act as levers to open up the
discourse and let the evaluative prosody in.
In this chapter we have reported on an appraisal prosody that was concurrent
with contrastive gestures, phonological contrast and with a rhetoric of opposi-
tions. We have used multimodal evidence and visualization of extended text
patterns to make these claims about a prevalent back-and-forth structuring
visible across strata. The ELO’s discourse is an example of persuasive language
wielded for the common good. His attempt to integrate the YP into the local
community is an effort at civic rehabilitation and restorative justice.
1 We wish to acknowledge the support of the Australian Research Council in fund-
ing this research project.
2 Technical terms relating to appraisal are presented in small caps to distinguish
them from common terms.
3 Following Martin and Rose (2003), we make a distinction between inscribed
appraisal that is explicitly construed, such as ‘bad person’, and invoked appraisal
which is indirectly construed such as ‘didn’t get a job’.
4 Mate, however, is becoming more frequently used by female speakers of Australian
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