Interpersonal aspect of a review

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INTRODUCTION

In this paper, I will analyse the interpersonal aspect of a review from a UK national newspaper. The review talks on a Pianist David Flay, who played Schubert's (a famous pianist) music. Here, I will pay particular attention to the writer's opinions, attitude, evaluation and appraisal of the text.

My plan for this essay is to critically analyse the review with the use of White's appraisal analysis. I have used this approach because it provides an adequate framework of an analysis of interpersonal meanings.

The first part of this essay will deal with an analysis of the writer's opinion and attitude of the text while the second part will deal with the writer's evaluation and appraisal of the text.

WRITER'S ATTITUDE AND OPINION.

The attitude and opinion expresses the writer or the speaker's view towards what he or she is writing or saying. This writer's attitude could be realised through his/her use of 'modality'. For example, the sentence

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"Perhaps some may find them too slow, too deliberate."

The word 'Perhaps' can be classified as a mood adjunct. Mood adjuncts, according to Eggins (1994:167), are "expressions of probability, usuality, intensification, presumption and inclination." The word 'perhaps', in the above sentence, is impersonalized and objective. It expresses a probability that some of the audience "may have [found the music] too slow [and] too deliberate" (Sunday Times Cultures Section 8.11.09, pg31).

The word 'May' can be classified as a modal finite. It also expresses a probability or likelihood. Unlike the word 'Perhaps', 'may', in the sentence, is personalized, subjective and of low probability.

Another modal finite used in the text is the word 'Can' in the sentence, "...But Schubert's Piano music can be played in many different ways". Here, the word (can) expresses the ability or capacity of Schubert's Piano music. Therefore, it tells us that the piano music has the potential to be played in many different ways.

APPRASIAL

Appraisal is the evaluative language used in a text. According to Right's Appraisal Analysis, appraisal explores "how attitudes, judgements and emotive responses are explicitly presented in texts and how they may be more indirectly implied, presupposed or assumed." He further divides the appraisal into subcomponents which are Attitude, Engagement and Graduation.

The subcomponent 'attitude' is divided into three parts. These are Affect, Judgement and Appreciation.

AFFECT

Affect is the speaker or writer's emotional response in a text or an utterance. In the text below, we observe affect (Bolden) as:

"Perhaps some may find them too slow, too deliberate..."

Which first made people aware of that haunting piece

"....we feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and colour and texture, relish Schubert's astonishing harmonic invention to the full, and relive the heart break, the ferocity, the elation, the visionary flights of these...works"

The words feel, find, relish, aware, relive and visionary are mental processes. They describe the writer's state of mind. Additionally, the word 'intensely' is an affect indicated through an adverb. Here, the writer describes how the piano music affects his psyche and perhaps, the audience.

APPRECIATION

This evaluates products and processes. Butler (2003:349) states that "appreciation is the institutionalization of feeling, in the context of proposition." It deals with how performances or natural objects, policies, products are valued.

Appreciation, according to Ravelli and Ellis (2004:34), is classified into two kinds which are: Appreciation as a valuation and Appreciation as a reaction. The first deals with constructing meaning of worthiness and significance to an entity while the second deals with how the text captures ones attention.

In the text, appreciating sentences are:

  • "These are wonderful performances by the young French pianist David Fray. (APPRECIATION AS VALUATION).
  • "Perhaps some may find them too slow, too deliberate. (A NEGATIVE APPRECIATION, APPRECIATION AS REACTION)
  • "a Player with a beautiful touch and the finest control of dynamics and chording." (APPRECIATION AS A VALUATION)
  • ...Which first made people aware of that haunting piece... (APPRECIATION AS A VALUATION: Entity's aesthetic impact on the writer or audience)
  • we feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and colour and texture, relish Schubert's astonishing harmonic invention to the full... (APPRECIAITION AS A REACTION)
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The word 'astonishing' describes the entity's impact on the writer

The word 'harmonic' describes the compositional quality of the entity.

  • But Schubert's piano music can be played in many different ways (APPRECIATION AS VALUATION)
  • ...the visionary flights of these inexhaustible works (APPRECIATION AS VALUATION)

GRADUATION

This has to do with the grading or the scaling of a text or an utterance. There are two types of graduation; they are the force and the focus. According to Martins (2004:276), force centres on adjusting the volume of a text while focus centres on fine-tuning the text.

FORCE

The 'Force' are words that intensify or boost a text. It also examines the scaling of a text which could be a higher grade or a lower grade. The extract below illustrates this:

"These are wonderful performances" (High grade scaling) by the young French pianist David Fray..." (Low grade scaling used to show emphasis)

"...a player with a beautiful touch (High grade scaling) and the finest control of dynamics..." (High grade scaling)

"Perhaps some may find them too slow (Low grade scaling)

"The C minor lasts a good minute longer..." (Low grade scaling)

"...which first made people aware... (Low grade scaling used to show emphasis)

"But Schubert's music can be played in many different ways (Low grade scaling used to show emphasis)

"...weakening the music's inexorable momentum (High grade scaling)

"...we feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and colour and texture, relish Schubert's astonishing harmonic invention... and relive the heart break, the ferocity, the elation, the visionary flight." (High grade scaling).

"Without ever weakening the music's...momentum, Fray fills every note with meaning, in such a way that we feel..." (Low grade scaling)

"...flights of these inexhaustible works." (High grade scaling)

FOCUS

This Focus, as written earlier, deals with the fine tuning of a text. It sharpens a text or softens it. Also, focus could be hedges or vague language in an utterance or text, for example, we observe the word 'may' in the sentence "Perhaps some may find ...." as a hedge. Other examples of hedges in the text include:

  • Can
  • Perhaps
  • Some

ENGAGEMENT.

This attitudinal resource examines the multiplicity of sources in a text. Engagement has two options which are "monogloss" and "heterogloss" Martin (2004:276). The first deals with the non-referencing of sources while the second acknowledge the sources. The below extract (Sunday Times Cultures Section 8.11.09, pg31) gives an example of monogloss:

"These are wonderful performances by...David Fray, a player with a beautiful touch and the finest control..."

"But Schnabel's music can be played in many different ways"

The above sentences do not reference a source and therefore "elide dialogism" Martin (2004:276).

Hetergloss could be analysed through different ways. These are: disclaim, proclaim, probabilise and attribute. The below extract gives an example of Hetergloss:

  • "...Perhaps, some may have find them too slow, too deliberate" (Probabilise: likelihood)
  • Fray fills every note with meaning, in such a way that we feel intensely each mercurial.... (Proclaim)

The first statement made reference to 'SOME'. Additionally, the writer shows a degree amount of uncertainty and also refuses to commit himself/herself to the truth of the sentence.

In the second statement, the reference 'we' means the writer and, probably, the audience. Therefore, the writer puts himself/herself and the voice of the 'audience' into the text.

COMMENTARY

So far I have analysed the interpersonal aspect of the text. In this section, I will examine the position of the three systems of appraisal such as attitude, graduation and engagement in the SPOCA structure.

In the review, I observed attitude/appreciation such as "beautiful touch", too slow, too deliberate, finest control of dynamics, inexhaustible works" to be in the adjunct position. This position, therefore, states the writer's additional information of "David Fray's performance", for example, the last sentence of the text-

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"Fray fills every note with meaning in such a way that we feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and colour and texture, relish Schubert's astonishing harmonic..."

The adjunct (Bold and underlined) in the above sentence informs the reader of the smooth harmonic sound of the notes. It also gives additional information on how the writer or the audience (we) felt about the "musical notes."

Another position that I observed regarding attitude/appreciation in the text is in the complement position (Appendix 1). This attitude/appreciation is surprisingly presented only in the introduction of the text and not in the body of text. This may be because the sentence is the subject matter in which the rest of the other sentence centres on.

The 'Attitude/affect' is another system of appraisal. Like appreciation, the affect, in the text, is located in the Adjunct position of the grammatical level. As written earlier this gives us the writer's extra information on the theme. However, there is an affect value positioned in the predicate. The word is "find" in the sentence:

"Perhaps some may find them too slow...

The verb does not give additional information and it's equally not immovable (adjunct). It centres on the writer's opinion of some of the audience towards the music.

As written earlier, graduation talks about the scaling or grading of a text. It also talks on force and focus. As observed in my analysis (appendices 1, 2, 3, 5) a great percentage of graduation/force appears in the adjunct position and a smaller percentage appears in the complement position.

In the adjunct position, we examine adjectives such as young, beautiful, finest, harmonic, astonishing, inexhaustible and an adverb such as intensely. These adjectives and adverbs make the text more detailed and descriptive. Additionally, they give more information to a specific thing that is being talked about. For example, 'young' in the sentence, "These are wonderful performances by the young French pianist David Fray..." is extra information used by the writer to describe David Fray.

The "Graduation/Force" that appeared in the complement position of the text are not additional information. I believe they are important information that the writer uses to capture the reader. For instance, if we remove the word "wonderful" from the above sentence, it makes the sentence plain or ordinary and may not interest a reader. Whereas, if we remove 'young' (added information), the sentence still serves as an eye-catcher because of the word 'wonderful' (Important information).

Unlike Graduation/Force, Graduation/Focus in the text is also seen in the predicate and conjunction position. These are words such as "may, can, perhaps" that indicate a certain amount of probability or likelihood. In the text, the writer gave a subjective view with the word "may" and an objective view with the word "perhaps" in the sentence:

"Perhaps some may find them too slow, too deliberate." (Multiply probability)

The double hedge suggests the force in which the writer tells us what some of the audience thought about the performances.

The attitudinal/engagement is quite different to the above attitudes in the text. Here, engagement appeared in the subject and the adjunct position of the text, for example, the word 'some' in the sentence "perhaps some may find them too slow..." is a subject. Here, the writer does not express his own view but the views of other people.

SPOCA: CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REVIEW.

In analysing the text, I observed that reviews are highly informative the writer gives additional information about the subject matter. He/she also gives important information in the introduction to capture the reader. The review is well detailed and descriptive through the writer's use of adjectives and adverbs. These word classes give the text a colourful account and make it more interesting and lively to the reader. Additionally, I observed a little amount of hedging in the text. It may be that reviews may or may not make use of hedges or vague language. Additionally, I also observed in the text that there are other people's voices but the review centres more on the writer's voice to the others.

INTERPERSONAL ANALYSIS: CHARACTERISTICS OF REVIEW.

In the text we have only three modal verbs that are used to express the writer's opinion. The three modal verbs are "perhaps, may and can." Additionally, these three modal verbs are dominated by words of certainty in the text, for example, the last sentence says "Fray fills every note with meaning" and not "Fray may have filled every note..." This 'certainty' runs through the text and hence, we may conclude that there is a higher degree of certainty than probability in reviews.

As observed in appendix 4, the writer made use of some attitudinal affect. Here he/she invites the reader to share his/her feelings or opinions about the smooth harmonic sound of "David Flay's performances". The writer uses his emotion to evaluate the music and stirs an emotional response from the reader. The writer, mentally, takes the reader to the actual setting of the performance and makes the reader experience what he/she (writer) felt. The below sentence illustrates this:

"We feel intensely each mercurial change of mood and colour and texture."

The use of the pronoun 'we' is quite interesting. It may mean 'the audience' and 'the writer' or the 'writer' and the 'reader'. I tend to question why not the pronoun 'I' (since not all the audience may have experience this feeling). This might be because the writer wants to establish a relationship with the readers in order to motivate them into reading more. Additionally, there is the theme of "togetherness, closeness" in the pronoun 'we' than the pronoun 'I'. As seen in the text, writers of reviews may use emotional responses to evaluate a person or a product.

The attitude/appreciation has the highest frequency in the text as observed in appendix 4. Here, emotional response is detached from any human behaviour and given to an entity. As observed in the text, I observed an emotional attachment to the "performances and the musical notes" and not to the 'pianist' except the first sentence. The writer evaluates the value of the 'performances' and placed a negative appreciation such as "too slow or too deliberate" or an appreciation evaluation such as "inexhaustible works". Reviews tend to have these two appreciative sentences that are negative or positive.

In my analysis of the text I also observed that the review deals with 'force' that boosts or intensifiers the subject matter to 'Focus' that deals with hedges and vague language (appendix 5). The force makes the review more detailed and descriptive through the use of high grade focus (adjectives) such as "inexorable" "inexhaustible" to low grade (adjectives) such as "too" and "young". In summary, reviews may use more of graduation/force to graduation/focus.

In conclusion, I have analysed the interpersonal meaning of the text and have also examined the writer's attitude, opinion, and evaluation.

ANALYSIS OF THE REVIEW.