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


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.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics
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Additional Information: © Sage 2018. The final publication is available via Sage at
Uncontrolled Keywords: American English,Appraisal analysis,capacity,forensic linguistics,intent,judgment,pledge to harm,propriety,stance,threat assessment,United States,violent fantasy,Communication,Language and Linguistics,Sociology and Political Science,Linguistics and Language
Publication ISSN: 1460-3624
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2024 07:14
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 10:22
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Related URLs: https://journal ... 957926518816195 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-03-01
Published Online Date: 2018-12-21
Accepted Date: 2018-10-01
Authors: Hurt, Marlon
Grant, Timothy D (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-5155-8413)



Version: Accepted Version

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