Attitude and Graduation: Appraisal Resources in a Decision of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

Vincent Mbahawa Chefor, Xin Zhiying, Ae Mon Kyaw


Court Judgments are classified within the legal genre of case-law, which is intended to be objective and impartial. However, despite efforts to conceal speakers’ presence and subjectivity in this context, stance must be taken in pronouncing judgment. This study seeks to understand how linguistic attitude and graduation resources are expressed in legal texts and to examine the mechanisms used for this purpose. The text chosen for analysis is a 2017 judgment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) titled: the “African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights V. Republic of Kenya”. The applicant, in respect of the Ogiek community of the Greater Mau Forest in the Republic of Kenya, submits to the ACHPR, denouncing violation of Articles 1, 2, 4, and 17 (2) and (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights by the Republic of Kenya. In order to determine the semantic nature of the linguistic elements set up in this judgement, the Attitude and Graduation systems of the Appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005) in Systemic Functional Linguistics, as well as some conceptual instruments of Raccah’s (2005) Semantic Structure of Points of View (SSPV) are applied to the selected corpus.

Keywords: Attitude system, Graduation system, Appraisal framework, points of view, ACHPR, Court judgement

DOI: 10.7176/JLLL/77-04

Publication date:March 31st 2021

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