Appraisal in Young Children’s Friendship Conversations: How Young Friends Establish Common Ground, Negotiate Relationships, and Maintain Play

Document Type : Research Article


School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Australia



Children’s first years at school are critical for their language development, academic progress, and social learning. Hopefully, children make friends when they start school because friendships support children’s learning and well-being. Friendships need to be developed and maintained, and interpersonal language resources like evaluative language provide linguistic tools that contribute to this relationship work. Appraisal theory (Martin & White, 2005) provides a comprehensive framework for analyzing evaluative language. This research applies the appraisal framework to explore evaluative language in the conversations of 2 pairs of 5-to-6-year-old friends. Children in each dyad identified each other as ‘very best friends,’ and their conversations were recorded as they played together. They used appraisal resources to negotiate and build common ground, to encourage responses from their friends, and to enrich their play. This research applies Martin and White’s (2005) framework in a new context and brings a new tool to the study of children’s peer conversations.


Volume 12, Issue 2
Theme Issue: Systemic Functional Linguistics and Appraisal Analysis: Recent Contributions to English Language Research
September 2021
Pages 37-51