Engagement and graduation resources as markers of translator/interpreter positioning


This article examines the application of appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005) to the analysis of translation. It develops the findings in Munday (2012), which focused on attitudinal meanings, and explores the potential for the use of engagement resources and graduation as a means of determining translator/interpreter positioning. Using a range of examples from texts of international organizations, it discusses the translation of reporting verbs and intensification as a signal of the translator’s/interpreter’s degree of ‘investment’ in a proposition and control over the text receiver’s response. This is framed within the concept of ‘discourse space theory’ (Chilton 2004) to provide a reference for future work in this field.

Table of contents

In this article my main concern is the linguistic modelling of translator positioning through applications of appraisal theory. I draw strongly on a systemic functional linguistic (SFL) model of language in which the actualization of ‘meaning potential’ expresses and constructs a certain discourse and view of reality. Following Halliday (1978, 109), “meaning potential” refers to the range of lexicogrammatical and other choices open to the text producer at all points in a text, constrained by genre and text-type conventions. There is always meaning behind these mainly paradigmatic selections (O’Grady 2013, 2), but we need to be aware of the choice available in order to reliably evaluate the text producer’s, and the translator’s, interventions (Munday 2007).

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