Genre- and culture-specific aspects of evaluation

Insights from the contrastive analysis of English and Italian online property advertising


  • Gabrina Pounds University of East Anglia



discourse analysis, evaluative meaning, non-evaluative meaning


The distinction between evaluative and non evaluative meaning in discourse is problematic. Many expressions may be purely factual in some contexts and evaluative in others. As argued by Hunston (1999:199--201), the criteria for evaluation rely in part on shared assumptions that form part of the message of any texts. Evaluation is, therefore, often expressed in ways that are highly implicit and discourse-dependent. The aim of this paper is to illustrate how detailed manual contrastive linguistic analysis comparing equivalent genres (online property descriptions in this case) produced in two different contexts of culture (England and Italy) may be used to: a) explore the fine variation in the subjective force of evaluative expressions, which might escape automated larger-scale analysis and, thereby b) distinguish with some precision between genre- and culture-specific aspects of evaluation. The theoretical framework for the analysis is derived from Appraisal Theory (Martin and White, 2005) and from the author’s earlier adaptation and application of the framework to the analysis of English property descriptions (Pounds, 2011). The significance of the findings is discussed with particular reference to further research into genre- and culture-specific evaluative patterns.

Author Biography

Gabrina Pounds, University of East Anglia

Gabrina Pounds (PhD in Linguistics, 2003) is lecturer in linguistics at the University of East Anglia Norwich, UK. Her research focuses on (comparative) discourse analysis, particularly the expression of attitude and subjectivity. She has published articles on the expression of opinion in Letters to the Editor (Pragmatics, 2005 and Discourse and Society, 2006), attitude and subjectivity in hard-news reporting (Discourse Studies, 2010), evaluation in advertising (Text and Talk, 2011) and expression of empathy in physician-patient interactions (International Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 2011).


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How to Cite

Pounds, G. (2012). Genre- and culture-specific aspects of evaluation: Insights from the contrastive analysis of English and Italian online property advertising. Linguistics and the Human Sciences, 6(1-3), 253–274.



Registers, Genres and Text Types