Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2589-7233
  • E-ISSN: 2589-7241
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This paper explores a new line of analysis for comparing opinion writing by reference to differences in the relationships being indicated between author and addressee. It draws on recent work within the appraisal framework literature to offer proposals for linguistics-based analyses of what has variously been termed the ‘intended’, ‘imagined’, ‘ideal’, ‘virtual’, ‘model’, ‘implied’ and ‘putative’ reader (the ‘reader written into the text’). A discussion is provided of those means by which beliefs, attitudes and expectations are projected onto this ‘reader in the text’, formulations which signal anticipations that the reader either shares the attitude or belief currently being advanced by the author, potentially finds it novel or otherwise problematic, or may reject it outright. The discussion is conducted with respect to written, persuasive texts, and specifically with respect to news journalism’s commentary pieces. It is proposed that such texts can usefully be characterised and compared by reference to tendencies in such ‘construals’ or ‘positionings’ of the putative reader – tendencies in terms of whether the signalled anticipation is of the reader being aligned or, conversely, potentially unaligned or dis-aligned with the author. The terms ‘flag waving’ and ‘advocacy’ are proposed as characterisations which can be applied to texts, with ‘flag waving’ applicable to texts which construe the reader as largely sharing the author’s beliefs and attitudes, while ‘advocacy’ is applicable to texts where the reader is construed as actually or potentially not sharing the author’s beliefs and attitudes and thereby needing to be won over. This line of analysis is demonstrated through a comparison of two journalistic opinion pieces written in response to visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, one published in the English-language version of the mainland China newspaper, and one in the English-language version of the Japanese . It is shown that one piece can usefully be characterised as oriented towards ‘flag waving’ and the other towards ‘advocacy’.


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