“My heartfelt gratitude goes to …”: The construal of gratitude in master’s dissertation acknowledgements

2022 IJRSE – Volume 11 Issue 6

Available Online:  25 February 2022


Agbaglo, Ebenezer
University of Cape Coast, Ghana (ebenezer.agbaglo@stu.ucc.edu.gh)


Dissertation acknowledgements have attracted scholarly attention over the last two decades. However, the research focus on them has been on rhetorical organisations and linguistic features, with particular attention to disciplinary, cross-cultural, and cross-linguistic variations. The present study examined the construal of gratitude in 100 master’s dissertation acknowledgements submitted to the Department of Economics of the University of Ghana. The data were obtained online from the dissertation repository of the University. The data were analysed within the systemic functional linguistics framework. It was found that gratitude was construed as a Thing, Process, and Quality. As a Thing, gratitude is realised by nouns and grammatical metaphors, presented as that which can be owned, modified by the Deictic, a or an, to show non-specificity, and accompanied by the Numerative to show number or quantity, or ordering. It additionally accepts Epithets to colour it with interpersonal meanings and functions as Actor or Goal in transformative material clauses as well as Verbiage in verbal clauses. As a Process, gratitude is realised by material clauses which can be presented in either the operative or receptive case. Gratitude as a Process also admits adverbs of manner, degree, or time, as a means of indicating the kind, degree, or time of gratitude. The construal of gratitude as a Quality, realised by adjectives, allows for modification by Premodifier adverbs which serve as interpersonal resources that mark gratitude as significant. The present study contributes to knowledge on dissertation acknowledgements and has implications for theory, writing pedagogy, and further research.

Keywords: dissertation acknowledgements, Ghana, gratitude, master’s students, systemic functional linguistics


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrse.2022.161

Cite this article:
Agbaglo, E. (2022). “My heartfelt gratitude goes to …”: The construal of gratitude in master’s dissertation acknowledgements. International Journal of Research Studies in Education, 11(6), 13-28. https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrse.2022.161