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Evaluative expressions in analystical arguments: aspects of appraisal in assigned English language essays

Issue: Vol 2 No. 1 (2005)

Journal: Journal of Applied Linguistics

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/japl.v2i1.105


Evaluative language is widely recognised as contributing to the quality of written argumentation, although investigation in this area is more prevalent in professional academic writing (e.g. Hunston, 1989 and Hyland, 2002) than in student texts. This study investigates evaluative expressions in argumentative essays written by first-year undergraduates in the discipline of English Language at the National University of Singapore. Aspects of the Appraisal framework, especially the engagement system, were used to analyse the evaluative expressions in the stages of argumentation outlined by Callaghan and Rothery (1988). The analysis revealed that high-rated and low-rated essays differ in the frequency of the use of the stages of Thesis and Reiteration to construct more or less effective arguments. Also, within the stages, evaluative expressions contributed to arguments that are more or less persuasive.

Author: Wu Siew Mei, Desmond Allison

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