The Language of Evaluation in Jose Saramago's Blindness via Appraisal Theory

Abstract

Appraisal theory is developed out of systemic functional linguistics as a discourse semantic resource that is concerned with how text producers express their attitudes. The current study is an attempt to expand appraisal framework applicability to a fictional text as modern linguistic studies in the field of appraisal theory have typically been applied to the limited scope of political speeches and debates. The present study strives to illuminate appraisal theory as a tool for analysing the novel Blindness by José Saramago by carrying out three hypotheses. First, appraisal theory can be applied to fictional texts to reveal its genre. Second, in Blindness, appraisal theory shows how the novel’s opening displays a high frequency of pessimistic attitudes. Third, Saramago's most prominent attitude in the beginning of Blindness is judgement. To investigate these hypotheses, the study applied Martin and White’s (2005) framework of appraisal theory to an analysis of 30 extracts as the most representative of the apocalyptic genre. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were applied. Consequently, this study has proven that appraisal framework can be applied to fictional texts to determine the stance and the genre of the text. The findings have also demonstrated that Saramago used an explicit judgment rather than affect or appreciation. Examining the apocalyptic genre and Saramago's attitudes through appraisal theory has led to a new linguistic reading of Blindness unfolding the stances towards the perspectives in the texts and the alignments made to the audience

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