Appraisal in the time of conflict

Coding evaluation through textual and contextual analysis


  • Namala Lakshmi Tilakaratna University of Sydney
  • Ahmar Mahboob University of Sydney



appraisal, Systemic Functional Linguistics


Differences of opinion carry the seeds of conflict in the best of times, but the consequences of such conflict and disagreement may be severe in contexts of war and political struggle. Often conflict and disagreement in relation to socio-political issues are voiced publicly in political discussions broadcast on television. These discussions are aimed at an ideal audience who is able to interpret the different political alignments and value positions of participants within the discussion. The purpose of this article is to examine the use of explicit and inexplicit evaluative language within a Sri Lankan political discussion in English through the use of the Appraisal framework in Systemic Functional Linguistics. In this paper, we provide an in depth analysis of resources of Appraisal as it is used within a locally produced, English language political discussion on the topic of ‘Public Confidence in the Media’. Participants within the discussion use a variety of linguistic resources to convey their attitude inexplicitly when discussing a range of politically sensitive subjects against the backdrop of the ongoing civil war. Based on the analysis of the data, we demonstrate that the Appraisal framework makes evaluation within the text more easily accessible and enables the coder to interpret a considerable amount of evaluation within the text. However, many evaluative instances still remain accessible only to the ‘ideal reader’ or a bilingual Sri Lanka audience. This is especially evident in instances where the data shows examples of ‘afforded’ Appraisal, which is evaluative only in relation to the context. Based on this analysis, the importance of analyzing texts from a variety of contexts in order to highlight areas for further research with the use of a framework such as Appraisal is suggested.

Author Biographies

Namala Lakshmi Tilakaratna, University of Sydney

Namala Lakshmi Tilakaratna is currently completing a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Sydney.

Ahmar Mahboob, University of Sydney

Ahmar Mahboob is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. His research interests include educational linguistics, language teaching, language policy, teacher education, and World Englishes.


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How to Cite

Tilakaratna, N., & Mahboob, A. (2013). Appraisal in the time of conflict: Coding evaluation through textual and contextual analysis. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 8(1), 63–90.