Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Arts


This study is concerned with how tenor relations impact on the language of the workplace, particularly as the workplace is typically organised hierarchically (Iedema, 1995) and is concerned with getting things done. In other words, the workplace is about administrative practices of guidance, surveillance and compliance (Iedema, 1995). In most cases, these social acts of guidance, surveillance and compliance are realised by discursive practices or workplace genres. Specifically, this study investigates the discursive practices of compliance, known as Directives, with a view to understanding the effect tenor relations have on the language choices of workers in Japan and Australia. The effect is described by using the tools of systemic functional grammar, particularly from the perspective of the interpersonal metafunction. The two corpora are analysed from ‘around’ (the lexicogrammar) and from ‘above’, (the semantics). The results show that, while the language and meanings of Directives in both languages are highly sensitive to tenor relations, the nature of this sensitivity differs. In general terms, in the workplace, it seems that the Japanese language is more interpersonally oriented, while English is less so, with a tendency to be rather more ideationally oriented. The results go some way to supplying linguistic evidence for the claim that Japanese society in general is hierarchical (Nakane, 1970), while Australian society is less so.

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