Pledging to harm: A linguistic appraisal analysis of judgment comparing realized and non-realized violent fantasies

Marlon Hurt, Timothy D Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Intent is a psychological quality that threat assessors view as a required step on a threatener’s pathway to action. Recognizing the presence of intent in threatening language is therefore crucial to determining whether a threat is credible. Nevertheless, a ‘lack of empirical guidance’ (p. 326) is available concerning how violent intent is expressed linguistically. Using the subsystem of judgment in Appraisal analysis, this study compares realized with non-realized ‘pledges to harm’, revealing occasionally counterintuitive patterns of stancetaking by both author types – for example, that the non-realized texts are both prosodically more violent and more threatening, while the realized pledges are more ethically nuanced – which may begin to shed light on which attitudinal markers reliably correlate with an author’s intention to do future harm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-171
Number of pages18
JournalDiscourse and Society
Volume30
Issue number2
Early online date21 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

© Sage 2018. The final publication is available via Sage at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0957926518816195

Keywords

  • American English
  • Appraisal analysis
  • capacity
  • forensic linguistics
  • intent
  • judgment
  • pledge to harm
  • propriety
  • stance
  • threat assessment
  • United States
  • violent fantasy

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