‘Working your words’
Appraisal in the AFL post-match interview
This paper explores the language used by Australian Football League (AFL) footballers and Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) journalists in their post-match interviews broadcast on ABC (774 Melbourne) radio. From Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL), Appraisal is used to investigate the evaluative language expressed by the AFL footballers in their exchanges with ABC journalists. Despite the many applications of linguistics to media discourse, especially within SFL, this research is the first to analyse the language of Australian athletes in their post-match interviews. It is found that irrespective of the result of the game, ABC journalists and AFL footballers maintain a neutral stance by countering expressions of positive Attitude with negative Attitude, as well as employing Graduation and Engagement resources that reduce authorial endorsement. These findings are summarized and discussed, including reference to neutralism from Conversation Analysis. The paper goes on to claim that the tenor between AFL footballers, ABC journalists and the broadcast audience makes it difficult for AFL footballers to express authoritative evaluations. The ultimate aim is to show that AFL footballers do well to negotiate a particularly challenging register.
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