Document Type : Research Article
1 PhD Candidate, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Language and Literature, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran
2 Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Language and Literature, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran
The preface which initiates textbooks is a significant convention in writing academic textbooks as it introduces the book, explains assumptions, clarifies expectations, and convinces the readers to read on. In the present study, using Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal framework, ninety textbook prefaces written by both native and nonnative writers, in both hard and soft sciences, were selected and analyzed aiming at exploring writers’ preferences for the type and frequency of appraisal resources. The statistical analysis of the data revealed that the writers plentifully used appraisal resources in the prefaces to express their attitudes, positions, and goals of the inclusion of various sections in the book. Attitude resources, in terms of frequency, are the most frequent, and Engagement elements are the least with Graduation items coming in the middle position. This is quite natural as all academic writing is to express opinions and positions, and prefaces, specifically, are less probable to indicate others’ attitudes and stances, but the authors’ positions and purposes behind the book. Based on the findings, it is concluded that native textbook writers are superior to nonnative writers in terms of communication power, establishing solidarity, and a convincing and forceful voice. The frequency of the subsystem of the main appraisals is also detailed in the article. This study can have implications for textbook writers, teachers, EFL learners, and materials developers.
Academic course books have a remarkable effect on the academic community as they serve as invaluable resources to teach and learn, and expert authors, using textbooks, can propagate their opinions, viewpoints, and popularity as well. In an academic context, textbooks, as Swales (1995) holds, integrate recent studies and produce new topics, and, thus, are worthy of serious attention. Textbook introduction, as a subsection of a textbook, and a separate genre (Bhatia, 1997), in its various forms such as foreword, preface, prologue, and introduction, is a significant part to bridge the gap between the author and the reader, provide a background to the book, and interest the reader.
Using genre analysis, some studies (Jalilifar, 2010; Samraj, 2008) have explored various academic writing discourses in recent years to offer the outline of academic writings with a view to contribute to our understanding of various genres and help EFL learners and amateur writers in communicating their message more appropriately. There is an inadequate body of research on the introductory part of the textbooks (Kuhi, 2008; Zepetnek, 2010), and more studies are required to figure out textbook introduction features.
The preface is the introductory part of a book that precedes the chief content. As a sub-class of introductions, the preface is written by the same author and is the opening part of, most commonly, nonfiction books or scholarly writing. The preface is the segment where the author can spur the interest of the reader, introduce himself (Bhatia, 1997), talk about the scope, and explain his intentions in writing the book. It is the writer’s point of view in which he can share his experiences, the stimulus behind the book, the significance of the book, the context, the goal of the book, and the writing process.
Preface, Prologue, Introduction, or Foreword?
In Bhatia’s (1997) view, the preface is the subsection of academic introductions which serves the communicative goal of introducing the work. The preface, along with the prologue, introduction, and foreword are all the starting part of a book, the foreground, or the front matter, and are often external to the content. They are closely related to the same concept which is, as Bhatia (1997) stated, serving the function of introducing the book and, therefore, sharing an important overlap. Although analogous, there are some dissimilarities that probably bring about confusion if writers do not have conscious knowledge of the linguistic and semantic features of these different genres.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines a preface as “the introduction(s) to a literary work, usually explaining its subject, purpose, scope and methods”. The preface, thus, based on OED, initiates and introduces academic writings, is written by the same author, and contains information about the writer. Accordingly, a prologue, on the other hand, is the starting point in fiction and is written from the point of view of a character which offers a different view to assist the reader in understanding the book. The prologue contains information on the background, context, and events. A foreword, however, is written by another writer who is usually a key figure in the subject or the field. It adds credit to the book and the writer, or it is used as a marketing tool to enhance the book or writer’s standing and interest readers. An introduction familiarizes the readers with the key topics and the reasons behind and prepares them for what to expect.
The Importance of Book Preface
Textbook prefaces are intended to introduce a book. According to Bhatia (1997), textbook prefaces share the communicative purpose of introducing the book, and also probably some trivial objectives such as proposing comments and promoting the work. The importance of prefaces, therefore, in terms of authorship, is the textbook introduction, especially when the book is of a different type, content, and audience. The author, consequently, should not jeopardize the new achievement by directly plunging into the content. The preface helps the writer have some introductory lines and provides the ground for what to come later which also may induce the reader to purchase the book.
In terms of readership, a key issue in reading is understanding; the students know what is being read, but not the meaning of it. As the students often evade reading the preface, they, thus, cannot figure out what the text is about, similar to losing directions on a trip, and the author’s introduction and comments (Bhatia, 1997), therefore, can serve reader comprehension, too, as familiarity with the goal of the book is valuable to grasp the writer’s view. Recognizing the central theme, along with the minor topics of the book, creates a mental outlook in the mind to form an overall image of the text to hang on to the individual ideas. The preface provides a solution to this problem by introducing the book, explaining the assumptions, clarifying expectations, describing the writer’s position, explaining the writing process, and presenting a range of discussions which, in turn, persuades the reader to want to continue reading the book. The reader can overcome this failure in understanding reading and, thus, have an effective understanding by resorting to some practical tips such as reading the preface, reading the headings and goals, and generating some questions.
Writing an Effective Book Preface
Having carefully analyzed all the selected prefaces and their content, style, presentation, and components, we came up with some practical tips on how to write a quality book preface. We recommend including, as Bhatia (1997) stated, an interesting and engaging introduction to the genesis of writing the book, and the intentions of the writer as well as the importance of the new publication for the target audience, too. In the same vein, the writer can also include a discussion on the difficulty of the task of producing a book in a plain and straightforward language and have some lines on his educational and professional background to attract the readers to begin and continue to read the book.
Academic writing, as Ezeifeka (2014) puts, entails any form of writing which is the product of organized research, study, and analysis, and efforts to enhance academic knowledge in a specialized context. Academic writing is a mode of self-expression that is formal, focused, succinct, and organized (Oshima & Hogue, 2017), with specialized vocabulary and structure, and is intended to assist reader comprehension. It is a means for the realization of interpersonal connections (Hyland, 2000), and a system for writers to communicate meanings within a specific discourse community. It also attempts to connect professional writers to those who seek that knowledge and, therefore, leads to knowledge expansion and, for Hyland (2007), social relationships.
In their training and profession, all students are required to take on academic writing, and instructors and academics, as Paquot (2010) holds, demand college students to write term projects, papers, reports, proposals, and theses. There are definitely benefits for all the academicians such as boosting research abilities, enhancing written communication and developing critical and analytical thinking (Defazio, Jones, Tennant, & Anne (2010)), and directing independent research. Academic writing is a continual process of writing, correcting, editing, and revising.
Discourse analysis, as Taylor (2001) holds, is the study of language in use, above the sentence level, or the analysis of larger chunks of language, and the construction of meaning in a socio-cultural context (Harris, 1952), with an especial goal. It is one of the commonest qualitative approaches to study written and verbal interaction, signifying that it could be linguistic and nonlinguistic (sign and symbolic), which attempts to explore the issue from a higher standpoint and the impetus behind the discourse. Discourse analysis views individual experiences from a subjective stance and seeks to get passed the literal meanings of expressions trying to scrutinize language functions and meaning creation in a social context.
Developed by Harris (1952), discourse analysis is connected speech that involves real language in communication and serves the goal of linking language to context to create meaning. It is an attempt to uncover meaning as it really occurs in social interaction, i.e. language use in context, and is specifically concerned with speaker meaning, and issues encouraging this meaning. As Wodak and Krzyzanowski (2008) hold, it is a model for problem-oriented social research.
Based on Halliday’s (1994) Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and interpersonal meaning, Appraisal Theory (AT) was developed by Martin and White (2005) to express, as Martin (2000) put it, a speaker or writer’s attitude in a specific situation and express linguistic meaning with the participant. Appraisal theory attempts to explain, according to Martin (2015), the way language is used by the speaker/writer to indicate feelings and emotions, and the way participants in communication relate to each other. It tries to explain, to quote Martin and White (2005), how participants approve and disapprove, how the text creates feelings and values, and how participants interpret their specific authorial identities.
Appraisal resources, according to Martin (1995), is the set of resources for intensifying, modalizing, reacting emotionally (affect), evaluating aesthetically (appreciation), and judging morally (judgment). Appraisal, according to Martin and White (2005), is made up of three subsystems that function interactively. Attitude describes three kinds of categories: sentiment (Affect), morals (Judgment), and aesthetics (Appreciation), with a positive or negative polarity. Engagement, the second subfield, reflects the verbal choices made to express viewpoints and approve or differ from others’ attitudes. Graduation, the last subsection, functions to intensify or weaken the attitude or engagement.
Textbooks, according to Richards (2001), are a key component in most language programs, especially for novice teachers as they are organized and carefully planned to cover every needed topic in detail. They, accordingly, offer guidelines and directions to use, complementary materials, teaching processes, sequential order of presentation, expected learning outcomes, and extra tasks and practices to master the theme. Standard textbooks are possibly integrated into any curriculum based on the focus of the course, administrative requirements, and teacher proficiency.
A textbook is a combination of information, notions, and assumptions, the fundamentals of a certain topic, and complementary teaching and learning resources and activities (Richards, 2001), which is authored by an expert, an educator, or a professor in a specialized field. It is a valuable teaching tool that, if used judiciously along with other tools, can produce desired learning outcomes and help attain intended objectives.
The introduction section of any academic work, whether an article or a textbook, is the gateway and a significant part of the work which provides the background, an overall view, and the logic for the whole work, encouraging the reader to read on the rest (The Writing Center, 2022). Writing an introduction is often regarded as a tough and complex task that contributes more directly to the general quality of the work and is likely to be one of the chief factors responsible for the acceptance or rejection of a research article to be published in a quality academic journal.
The superordinate term introduction covers many micro-genres, among which the preface is one, and all serve the prominent goal of introducing the academic work. The preface, as a subsection of the introduction, in Bhatia’s (1997) view, is the part that outlines the overall purpose and scope, specifies the steps involved in preparing the book, and has the informative and promotional communicative purpose. The preface genre, as a subgenre of the introductory sections, although highly important in textbooks, has not been adequately investigated and, therefore, as Mohsenzadeh (2013) puts, has remained untouched in the literature, and deserves further inquiry, and there are still many preface-related issues which necessitate research, such as cross-disciplinary variations, generic structure, linguistic principals, and cross-cultural relationships. This paucity of generic research is devastated when it comes to analyzing prefaces in terms of the Appraisal framework and, thus, we were not able to find any studies on prefaces done against the evaluative framework of the Appraisal theory.
The book preface performs advertising or a marketing role for an academic work, and, according to Bhatia (1997), has a promotional, informative, or persuasive impact on the audience of the newly published book. Generally, a book preface in academic writing involves a specific structure in terms of moves that are specified to identify the constituents of the genre.
Swales’ (1990) schematic move framework best summarizes the book preface in the form of some sequential nine moves arranged top-down including Heading, Opening, Introducing the book, Identifying the purpose of the book, Identifying the readership of the book, Identifying the organization of the book, Acknowledging, Closing, and Signing off.
There are some genre studies exploring the move structure of textbook prefaces. In his analysis of 21 textbook prefaces, Kuhi (2008) identified four moves, namely introduction, audience, purpose, and acknowledgment, and found the two moves of audience and acknowledgment as the most frequent. In a 2012 research, Azar analyzed 22 prefaces in terms of Swales’ (1990) and Bhatia’s (1993) move patterns and recognized the four moves of creating a need, establishing orientation (purpose and audience), outlining scope, and acknowledgment.
In another study of the move structure of textbook prefaces in different disciplines, Abdollahzadeh and Salarvand (2013) identified a similar kind of genre structure and pattern in terms of purpose, structure, and reader’s expectations. They also found the prefaces functioning for the promotional and informative purposes, with no cross-disciplinary differences in the moves and steps.
A review of the literature reveals that in the literature, textbook prefaces are analyzed in terms of genre moves; there is a paucity of appraisal analysis of textbook prefaces, and this study, therefore, can be important in filling this gap in the literature. It was tried to perform appraisal analysis and find the distribution and type of appraisal resources in textbook prefaces written by native and nonnative writers as well as hard and soft science practitioners. The study could be significant as we were not able to find any similar research, and there is a lack of any systematic analysis of this important genre in terms of an appraisal framework. This research, therefore, might be one of the first studies in this regard. It tried to address the issue as it was a concern and an interesting topic in the literature as well. Thus, it can highly contribute to the field.
Having judiciously analyzed the available data, we found that there was complete unavailability of textbooks written by female authors in both native and nonnative groups. Thus, female writers were excluded, although they were initially included in the study. It was, therefore, decided to study only cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary variations in textbook prefaces written by male nonnative Iranian and native English writers. The corpus of the study consisted of 90 textbook prefaces; 30 nonnative applied linguistics (pragmatics, semantics, syntax, and discourse) prefaces, and 60 native ones. From among the 60 native prefaces, 30 were assigned to soft science and linguistics, and 30 others were taken from the field of hard science, physics, and math. The prefaces were written during the 2010s, and if we could not find enough data, especially for nonnative cases, we went back to 2000.
There are several selection criteria for the inclusion of the textbook prefaces to make sure of the homogeneity of the data. First, the book prefaces were chosen from new and up-to-date sources, at least 2010s onward to avoid diachronic variations in frequency and type of appraisal resources. Second, the key figures are renowned specialists in the field, and the sources are credited with scholarly publications in different fields. Third, we only selected single-writer book prefaces to evade stylistic variations between preface writers. Finally, the length of the book preface is also important; we tried to ignore too short or too long book prefaces, and consequently, the average word count for the book prefaces selected for the study is 1000 words.
The Appraisal framework is rooted in Halliday’s (1994) Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). SFL is a theory of language based on the concept of language functions. SFL takes into account the syntactic structure of language, but focuses more on language functions as central (what language does, and how it does it), in contrast to more structural methods that focus more on language elements and groupings. SFL views language in a social context which is a central concept in SFL, and attempts to explain the way language acts on and is controlled by the context. The notion of context comprises Field (what is going on), Tenor (the social roles and connection between the interlocutors), and the Mode (features of the communication channel, e.g., monologue vs dialogue, written vs spoken, etc.). SFL has three overall functions including the interpersonal function, aiding to establish the relationships, the ideational function, assisting to express the experience, and the textual function which contributes to the organization of the text.
The Appraisal framework is an expansion of Halliday’s model to further understand the manifold ways we employ to convey our opinions and react to others’ opinions. The unit of analysis moved to the text rather than a clause, and the analysis is necessarily interpretive and varied from one analysis to the other. Since dealing with the conveying of (and reaction to) personal opinions, the Appraisal framework is, therefore, the interpersonal language metafunction of SFL theory.
Martin and White (2005) and Martin (2000, 2003) developed the Appraisal theory to analyze language evaluative functions and the resources, as Martin (2000) holds, which function to express sentiments, judgments, and evaluations, in combination with the resources for strengthening and engaging these evaluations. The Appraisal is a general term that contains three subsystems: Attitude, Graduation, and Engagement. Attitude involves the resources applied to expressing judgments, affects, and appreciations; Engagement and Graduation, however, deal with the resources that engage and intensify Attitude.
The Appraisal theory, with reference to the communication circumstances, is concerned with the linguistic resources utilized to convey ideas and express evaluations of the ideas of others in the communicative context. The theory is specifically concerned with, as Hashemi, Mahdavirad, and Mazdayasna (2021) state, the language that expresses writers’ feelings or judgments about their own propositions or propositions from external sources, and their engagement with external propositions as well. An appraisal is a set of language and interpersonal tools writers and speakers use to express feelings and positions and, based on White (2000), concentrates on interpersonal meanings both within utterances and as the text unfolds collectively.
The Appraisal theory best fits the analysis framework of the data in the present research as it is developed from Functional linguistics (Halliday, 1994). It is the Tenor segment of Halliday’s functional grammar and enjoys a robust basis in previous developments in discourse analysis. It is a theory of language which attempts to contextually decide the interpretation and meaning of sentences, integrates ideas and propositions, and, in contrast to earlier frameworks which did not account for context and degree of participant involvement (engagement), takes into account the context of communication and the level of speaker involvement in the interaction.
Figure 1. Overview of the Appraisal Framework (Martin & White, 2005)
The current study aims at finding answers to the following questions:
- What are the frequency and type of appraisal resources used in the book prefaces across soft vs. hard sciences?
- What are the frequency and type of appraisal resources used in the book prefaces written by English native vs Iranian non-native writers?
Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal framework, developed from Halliday’s (1994) Systemic Functional Linguistics, was chosen as the basis for data analysis. Data analysis consisted of locating, finding, and quantifying Appraisal items and discourse markers serving to realize writers’ attitudes and propositions in the textbook prefaces. Later on, we counted the Appraisal resources and calculated their frequency and percentage; then, the items found in the data were coded and assigned to relevant Appraisal categories.
Data Analysis Procedure
In the present research, we used Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal theory as the framework for analyzing the data. Using content analysis of the textbook prefaces, the data were collected by identifying and recording discourse items and markers. Later, in the quantification stage, we classified the data, assigned them to appropriate groups, coded, and calculated the frequency and percentage of Appraisal elements. In the next step, in the qualitative phase, the cases of Attitude, Engagement, and Graduation items and their subcategories, in the texts under study, were detected, categorized, coded, and assigned to relevant groupings. The final step was the addition of figures and tables showing the distribution and frequency of the appraisal items in the textbook prefaces. The results, then, were tabulated, and descriptions and explanations were added to show writers’ positions and preferences for the Appraisal resources.
To attain the higher and preferred level of precision and consistency, we manually coded and double-checked all the prefaces two times, in a one-month interval, to ensure uniformity in data analysis and item labeling. Finally, the results were compared and contrasted for each discipline and writer group to discover the potential relationships and differences regarding the variables under investigation.
Results and Discussion
There is extensive research on Appraisal resources used in textbook prefaces by native and nonnative male writers in both hard and soft science disciplines. Due to a large number of book prefaces and various variables under investigation, and as we planned to have cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural comparisons, and measure the interactive impact of these variables, the discussion, thus, comes in different sections for all the variables separately.
The following tables present an overall view of the frequency of the Appraisal elements and their distribution throughout all the textbook prefaces for the appraisal main categories and subcategories as well. A quick look at the tables below reveals interesting and important results about the prefaces which are discussed in the following sections.
Table 1. Frequency and Percentage of Appraisal Resources in Native Soft Science Prefaces
Table 2. Frequency and Percentage of Appraisal Resources in Native Hard Science Prefaces
Table 3. Frequency and Percentage of Appraisal Resources in Nonnative Soft Science Prefaces
Attitude, in Martin and White’s (2005) view, is the feelings, including emotional reactions (affect), judgments of behavior (judgment), and evaluation of phenomenon (appreciation). It is a general subsystem comprising three subdivisions, namely Affect, Judgment, and Appreciation.
Attitude elements make up the most frequent number (62.7 percent) of the entire resources employed in the selected textbook prefaces as writing book prefaces, as a worthy illustration of academic writing, is typically attitudinal in nature involving positions, planning, opinions, and estimates of diverse positions and stances in a special field.
The attitude subsystem is the most prominent appraisal element in all academic works as any academic work endeavors to respond to others’ observations and offer perspectives to influence the reader to follow and accept them as correct. Consequently, it is quite expected that Attitude resources constitute the largest number of appraisals in all academic writings such as interviews, book reviews (Hashemi, et al., 2021), theses, and various other such academic genres.
Figure 2. Overall Cases, Frequency, and Percentage of Attitude Resources
Attitude is further subdivided into Affect, Judgment, and Appreciation. Affect is concerned with emotional response and the mental processes through which people assess contextual incentives initiated by the social conditions, others, or one’s own appraisal of the context relevant to the individual and prompt reactions. The insertion of affect elements is a good sign of the attitudinal position assumed by the writer or speaker and is an effective technic to create solidarity. The attitudinal sub-system of Judgment comprises meanings functioning to evaluate human character, personality, or behavior, either positively or negatively, by reference, as White (2001) holds, to a set of social and personal norms. Appreciation is the personal or aesthetic evaluation of objects and entities. Appreciation, as Souza (2006) states, is a set of interpersonal resources for expressing evaluations of objects, entities, processes, and natural phenomena.
Native Textbook Writers
In terms of Attitude, native soft science textbook writers employed the highest frequency of these resources in their book prefaces which is 44 percent (roughly equals to the other two groups), nonnative writers come second, and native hard science writers place third in this respect. Native soft science writers had a much better overall performance in the appraisals too as they used 40 percent of the whole resources in their prefaces. This is, of course, reasonably natural due to the subjective and personal nature of their disciplines, and the fact that they come from the same language background as well, and thus could communicate with ease.
Figure 3. Overall Attitude Resources in Native and Nonnative Prefaces
As for the Affect attitudinal resources, we observed native soft science dominance, as seen in the case of overall Attitude above. They used more affective elements than the other two groups altogether which is a sign of ease to take a position and indicate a stance as well as a greater degree of solidarity and intimacy they assume with the reader or audience. The same trend is evident in the native hard group which is the second in this regard. Affective overall superiority might also be indicative of the frank and straightforward style of native English writers as compared with the indirect and less candid nonnative writing style adopted by Iranian writers. It is also worth mentioning that nearly all Affect items found in the prefaces are positive or at least neutral slightly to the exclusion of negative affect resources.
Judgment resources also witness similar native domination, as observed in the Affect case. Native writers have outdone nonnative writers and used 3 times more resources. Thus, we can conclude that they are more apt to judge others in their writing. The number of these resources is, however, much less than that of Affect items. As the writer thinks, academic writing is, more than anything else, the expression of ideas and positions, and less judging people and personalities. Meanwhile, people just go for peace and escape being challenged as judging others is challenging which might arouse unfriendly reactions in the community rather than focusing on academic issues and providing solutions for problems.
The final subsection of Attitude, Appreciation, enjoys the highest frequency of the elements in all Appraisal resources in the study. This frequency is so high that the other two fields, mentioned above, look insignificant. The Appreciation items form 88.3 percent of the Attitude appraisals which is far-reaching for the other elements, and all the writers have made quite an extensive use of these elements, mostly, in the form of adjectives to express their subjective evaluations of objects and events. This is actually quite reasonable as, contrary to judging people, it is less risky and involves no challenge. These elements, however, in terms of polarity, are chiefly neutral (91 percent) and only 7.5 percent convey positive feelings with 1.5 percent indicating negative evaluations.
Native soft science writers have offered a more effective writing skill in comparison to native hard writers which is quite expected and justified as soft science is more subjective and personal. One point to be mentioned here is the trifle positivity of the evaluations made by the hard science group which is slightly higher than the soft science camp.
Figure 4. Frequency of Attitude Resources in Native Textbook Prefaces
Nonnative Textbook Writers
Nonnative writers are not as successful as native authors in using Attitude resources. In terms of Affect, the frequency of the resources is 3 times less than that used in native prefaces in general. Therefore, the results suggest that nonnative writers, although working in a subjective field, are more impersonal, and tend much less to express affective feelings and emotions in their writings. They, therefore, are less prosperous to create warmth and solidarity in their book prefaces. As for Judgment, the same observation is made again; the frequency of Judgment resources is 3 times less than that in natives’ prefaces. It implies that nonnative writers are 3 times less judgmental in their writings as indicated in the results.
In terms of Appreciation, nonnative writers, however, are in a better position and have roughly employed a similar number of these resources as native writers did in general. They are, as natives did, quick to evaluate events and phenomena as this is less challenging than judging people and their traits. They, in this respect, while, in general, coming side by side with native writers, are less effective than their native soft science counterparts, but outperformed native hard science writers by a lot. For polarity, it is interesting that they have used more positive and negative elements than the natives. They, for example, used 16.2 percent positive and 3.4 percent of negative items which is considerably higher than the positivity and negativity items in native prefaces.
Engagement involves that, as Bakhtin (1981) said, human verbal interaction is dialogic requiring the participants to position with reference to the subject, context, and others’ opinions view. Engagement is the negotiation between the writer or speaker’s viewpoints with the attitudes offered and the probable reactions to these opinions and positions. Engagement appraisals make the expression and adoption of a certain position possible. Engagement is regarded as either Monogloss or Heterogloss. Monoglossic implies a single viewpoint and overlooking other views. Heterogloss, however, is dialogic.
Heterogloss, in turn, is divided into dialogic expansion and dialogic contraction. Expansion, further, is divided into Entertain and Attribute. Entertain, Martin and White (2005) said, is a proposition as one of a range of possible propositions, and Attribute is a proposition from the internal voice of the text by attributing it to some external sources. Contraction is divided into disclaim and proclaim. Disclaim, subdivided into Deny and Counter, rejects earlier utterances, and Proclaim, containing concur, pronounce and endorse, is the set of formulations to agree with, or have the same knowledge as, some projected dialogic partner (Martin & White, 2005, p. 122).
Engagement items form about 10.3 percent of the whole resources found in the data which is the lowest frequency. This is quite natural as book prefaces are less related to others’ positions and viewpoints. Rather they provide the author with a ground to communicate his opinion, background, writing motif, writing process, and goals.
Native Textbook Writers
Engagement items are the least frequent in both native and nonnative textbook prefaces. They, hence, displayed very little consideration to other attitudes and to offer necessary context with respect to other germane voices. This failure in offering appropriate reference to other stances in the textbook prefaces is by no means significant as a preface is a personal note which necessitates no further support.
Figure 5. Frequency and Percentage of Engagement Resources
Native authors, however, have demonstrated a much better writing skill in terms of using Engagement resources. They were able to utilize these elements roughly 2.5 times more than nonnative writers and, thus, show a greater concern with others’ attitudes and stances in their writings which is the logic and core, of good and robust academic writing, to persuasion and induction. The Engagement elements employed in the native textbook prefaces, as Pascual and Unger (2010) observed, are chiefly expansive indicating an inclination to invite others and not challenge them.
Nonnative Textbook Writers
Nonnative writers, just like the natives, have used the least number of the Engagement resources in their prefaces, and, thus, overlooked other stances. Nonnative authors, compared to native ones, however, used fewer resources (half) suggesting that they are less attentive to other opinions. Furthermore, the resources used are nearly all expansive than contractive.
Graduation is another subdivision in the Appraisal framework. Graduation comprises the scaling measures of Force and Focus. Force is perceived as increasing or decreasing the strength of utterances and turning up or down the volume, and Focus is the softening or sharpening of the utterances. Graduation is the grading phenomenon, whereby feelings are amplified and categories blurred (Martin & White, 2005). Graduation, therefore, entails resources that engage and intensify Attitude and Engagement. These resources occupy the middle position in the distribution of the appraisals, making 27 percent of the whole appraisal items in the study.
Figure 6. Frequency and Percentage of Graduation Resources
Native Textbook Writers
Graduation elements, in terms of frequency, place in the middle position in the entire appraisals used in both native and nonnative textbook prefaces. Regarding Graduation, just like Engagement, native writers have significantly been more productive than nonnative writers. They have used these resources almost two times more in their prefaces. As these resources result in creating a better impression and lead to a more powerful meaning communication, a cogent voice, and an effective position, therefore, native textbook writers are more communicative, motivating, and influential in constructing the preferred effect.
Interestingly, native hard science writers have excelled soft science group by about 70 percent difference which is not a common happening as, the writer thinks, soft science is more probable to have a more potent writing style thanks to the subjectivity of their field as related to the firm and rigid nature of hard science. Native hard science textbook writers, therefore, are more expressive and impressive in their prefaces. Meanwhile, the resources utilized in the prefaces are all Force to the exclusion of Focus.
Nonnative Textbook Writers
Nonnative textbook writers are the least active in employing Graduation resources; they have used less than half of these resources in comparison to the native group. They are, consequently, less disturbed by the power of their writings and failed to add force to their style, and their writing is not, thus, as powerful and impressive as that of their native writers’ counterparts.
Conclusions and Implications
Academic textbooks exert a notable influence on the academic community as they function as helpful sources to teach and learn, and propagate authors’ attitudes, perspectives, and popularity. They can also, as Swales (1995) said, integrate recent studies and produce new topics, and, thus, are worthy of serious attention. As a subsection of a textbook, textbook prefaces, are also significant parts to bridge the gap between the author and the reader, interest the reader, and provide a background to the book. Textbook prefaces abound with appraisal resources, and we intended to demonstrate the type and frequency of the appraisals in native and nonnative prefaces.
Using Martin and White’s (2005) Appraisal model, we investigated the cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary variations in the use of the Appraisal elements in textbook prefaces in both hard and soft sciences. We analyzed 90 prefaces written by both native (60 prefaces) and nonnative writers (30 prefaces). As we were unable to find enough nonnative hard science data, it was, thus, decided to study native hard science prefaces, with an average word count of 1000 words. The analysis process involved detecting, recording, coding, and classifying discourse markers.
The findings of the study indicate that all textbook writers have extensively used the appraisals to express their opinions, viewpoints, and evaluations of the topics, goals, writing process, and various other issues they deem necessary. Based on the findings, Attitude resources, overall, are the most frequent, with a 62.7-percent standing. Graduation resources place in the middle, forming 27 percent of the resources, and Engagement appraisals are used the least with a frequency index of 10.3 percent. The conclusion drawn here is that textbook prefaces, akin to any other academic writing, involve the expression of subjective ideas, evaluations, and sentiments to the reader (Attitude). Furthermore, contrary to conventional academic writing, textbook prefaces tend to use others’ positions and opinions less (Engagement). Textbook prefaces, are, nevertheless, more alert to add power to their expressions and meanings (Graduation) to induce and impress the reader.
We, meanwhile, observed differential cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary performance in these groups. As for cross-cultural differences, the application of the appraisals, by and large, is more native-oriented, and native authors have surpassed the nonnatives in all of the main appraisal systems and subsystems. They have demonstrated superior performance in the appraisals, as a whole, and the individual subcategories suggestive of their dominance and excellence. In terms of cross-disciplinary variations, native soft science writers have made a higher performance in the appraisals and excelled in the other groups with a great difference.
The findings have applications in teaching and learning. As for teaching, it is recommended that the Appraisal elements be incorporated into EFL and ESL teaching materials and textbook development. We also advise including these resources in introductory writing programs to enhance the academic writing skills and critical thinking ability of the learners. As for learning purposes, we highlight learners’ concentration on the appraisals as operational tools for developing writing capacity and as a practical response to the requirements of academic writing, in particular, papers, articles, and prefaces. A good awareness of the appraisals will assist the learners to be better prepared with communication power tools to express their positions, create and polish their style, and evaluate other works.
The limitations of the current study involve some issues related to native and nonnative samples. In terms of native samples, we were not able to find enough female samples, so we had to ignore this element in the research which might, otherwise, be more insightful and comprehensive than the current version of the research. For the nonnative variable, too, we confronted the same problem as could not find the same amount of data for female authors. In terms of nonnative writers, this limitation was even deeper and more serious.