The Importance of Ideational and Interpersonal Meaning in Written Discourse

1. Introduction

One of the most fundamental questions in linguistics is what meaning is and how it is conveyed in language. In this essay, we will be focusing on two types of meaning: ideational meaning and interpersonal meaning. Ideational meaning is concerned with the content of what is communicated, while interpersonal meaning is concerned with the relationship between the speaker and the listener. We will first give a brief overview of each type of meaning, and then compare and contrast two samples of written discourse selected at random from different sites.

2. Ideational meaning
2.1 What is ideational meaning?

Ideational meaning is concerned with the content of what is communicated. It can be seen as equivalent to the mental representations that speakers have of the world (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). In other words, it is what speakers want to communicate about their experiences, ideas, and knowledge.

There are three different sub-types of ideational meaning: referential, logical, and lexical (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). Referential meaning refers to the relationship between the language use and the world that it represents. In other words, it is concerned with how language refers to things in the world. Logical meaning expresses relationships between ideas, such as causation, consequence, similarity, etc. Lexical meaning is concerned with the meanings of individual words.

2. 2 How is ideational meaning conveyed in writing?

Ideational meaning is typically conveyed through naming (referring to people or things by name), classifying (grouping people or things together), describing (giving properties or features of people or things), or narrating (telling a story) (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). All of these can be seen in the following extract from a book report:

“The book I read was called ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. It was written by J.K Rowling and it was published in 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.”

In this extract, the author is engaged in naming (referring to the book by name), classifying (stating the author and publication date), and describing (giving some basic information about the book).

3. Interpersonal meaning
3.1 What is interpersonal meaning?

Interpersonalmeaningconcerns itselfwiththe waythespeakertreatsthelistenerandhowthelatterislikelytointerpretands respondto whatissaid(Halliday&Hasan,1976).Itcanbeviewedasequivalenttoaspeaker’sorwriter’sintentionorpurposein communicativeacts(Weasley&HermioneareaskingHarryforhelp).Italsoincludesfeatureslikesentiment(pleasureor displeasureexpressed)andattitude(agreementordisagreementwithwhatisbeingtalkedabout)(Halliday&Hasan,1976).

There are four different sub-types of interpersonal meaning: mood, tenor, field, and mode (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). Mood refers to grammatical choices that express attitudes or intentions. For example, Harry Potter could say “I will help you” or “I can’t help you”. The first expresses his intention to help them while the second expresses his attitude that he cannot help them even if he wanted to. Tenor refers to the relationship between the participants in the communication, such as whether they are friends, family, colleague, etc. Field refers to the topic of the communication, such as school, work, hobby, etc. Mode refers to the medium of the communication, such as spoken, written, or signed.

3. 2 How is interpersonal meaning conveyed in writing?

Interpersonal meaning is typically conveyed through grammatical choices, such as pronouns (I/you), modals (can/could), and verbs of will (shall/will) (Halliday & Hasan, 1976). It can also be conveyed through lexical choices, such as positive or negative sentiment words (happy/sad). The following extract from a graduation speech is an example of how interpersonal meaning can be conveyed in writing:

“We did it! We made it through four years of hard work and we are finally graduated! I want to say a big congratulations to all of you.”

In this extract, the speaker is conveying his positive sentiment towards the event and his sense of achievement through his use of positive words like “we”, “finally”, and “congratulations”. He is also expressing his intention to congratulate them by using the modal “want”.

4. Comparative analysis of texts in ideational and interpersonal meanings

4.1 Sample 1: “Baby research may help mother’s sleep problems”
The first sample we will look at is an excerpt from an article on baby research. The author is discussing a study that looked at how different sleeping arrangements affected mothers’ sleep quality. The study found that mothers who slept with their babies in the same room had better sleep quality than those who slept in a separate room.

There are two main types of meaning conveyed in this excerpt: ideational meaning and interpersonal meaning. The ideational meaning is concerned with the content of the communication, i.e. what the author is trying to say about the study. The interpersonal meaning is concerned with the relationship between the author and the reader, i.e. how the author is trying to engage with the reader and what he wants them to take away from the text.

The ideational meaning is conveyed primarily through description and narration. The author describes the study and its findings in detail. He also uses quotation marks to highlight key points made by the researcher conducting the study. This helps to give credibility to the claims made by the author.

The interpersonal meaning is conveyed through engagement strategies, such as addressivity (the use of ‘you’ throughout the text) and inclusionary language (the use of ‘we’ when referring to mothers). This helps to create a feeling of solidarity between the author and the reader, as well as making the findings of the study more relatable. The author also uses a number of modals (‘may’, ‘can’, ‘would’) to express his attitude towards the findings of the study. This conveys his cautious optimism that baby research may be able to help mothers who are struggling with sleep issues.

4. 2 Sample 2: “Infant anxiety may cause graduations”

The second sample we will look at is an excerpt from an article about infant anxiety. The author is discussing a study that found that infants who are anxious are more likely to graduate from college. The study found that the more anxious the infant, the higher their likelihood of graduating.

As with the first sample, there are two main types of meaning conveyed in this excerpt: ideational meaning and interpersonal meaning. The ideational meaning is concerned with the content of the communication, i.e. what the author is trying to say about the study. The interpersonal meaning is concerned with the relationship between the author and the reader, i.e. how the author is trying to engage with the reader and what he wants them to take away from the text.

The ideational meaning is conveyed primarily through description and narration. The author describes the study and its findings in detail. He also uses quotation marks to highlight key points made by the researcher conducting the study. This helps to give credibility to the claims made by the author.

The interpersonal meaning is conveyed through engagement strategies, such as addressivity (the use of ‘you’ throughout the text) and inclusionary language (the use of ‘we’ when referring to parents). This helps to create a feeling of solidarity between the author and the reader, as well as making the findings of the study more relatable. The author also uses a number of modals (‘may’, ‘can’, ‘would’) to express his attitude towards the findings of the study. This conveys his cautious optimism that infant anxiety may be a predictor of future success.

5. Conclusion

In this essay, we have looked at two types of meaning: ideational meaning and interpersonal meaning. We have seen that ideational meaning is concerned with the content of what is communicated, while interpersonal meaning is concerned with the relationship between the speaker and the listener. We have also seen that these two types of meaning can be conveyed in different ways in written discourse.

We have then looked at two samples of written discourse and analysed the ideational and interpersonal meanings conveyed in each. We have seen that both samples make use of description and narration to convey their ideational meaning. They also both make use of engagement strategies, such as addressivity and inclusionary language, to convey their interpersonal meaning.

Overall, we can see that both types of meaning are important in written discourse. Ideational meaning helps to convey the content of what is being communicated, while interpersonal meaning helps to create a connection between the author and the reader.

FAQ

The main ideational meaning difference between the two texts is that Text A is primarily focused on informing the reader about a new product, while Text B is focused on persuading the reader to buy the product. The interpersonal meaning difference between the two texts is that Text A is written in a more formal, objective tone, while Text B is written in a more informal, personal tone.

These meaning differences affect the overall message of each text in that Text A provides information about the product without trying to sell it, while Text B tries to sell the product by emphasizing its benefits.

The texts use language to create these different meanings by using different types of vocabulary (e.g., technical terms vs. persuasive language) and sentence structure (e.g., short vs. long sentences).

Each text communicates its ideas and messages to its audience differently depending on its purpose: Text A informs readers about the product so they can make an informed decision, while Text B tries to persuade readers to buy the product by stressing its positive features.

The implications of these meaning differences for interpretation and understanding of the texts are that readers need to be aware of how each text is trying to communicate with them in order to accurately understand its message. Additionally, readers should be aware that not all information provided in marketing materials (such asText B) can be trusted; some claims may be exaggerated or even false.

Some other significant meaning differences between the two texts include the level of detail provided (Text A is more detailed than Text B) and the use of first-person pronouns (Text B uses first-person pronouns such as "we" and "our", while Text A does not).