An Analysis of Mood and Modality in Workplace Discourse and the Impact of Power Differentials: Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

Zenah Aydh Saeed Dajem, Hesham Suleiman Alyousef


This qualitative study examines the interpersonal meaning of Mood and modality, specifically within the context of workplace discourse, and the influence of power on communication strategies. Its focus is to investigate the Mood structures used by interlocuters and to understand how a speaker’s choice of Mood demonstrates various interpersonal meanings. In addition, the paper explores the concept of modality, assessing the different ways in which speakers communicate to express their attitudes and judgments by employing the grammatical resources of modalization (probability) and modulation (inclination and obligation). Data were collected from an episode of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, a popular television series filmed in the U.S., in which Gordon Ramsay, a well-known professional chef, visits failing restaurant establishments. The data were transcribed verbatim before being analyzed to identify the use of Mood structures and modality, as well as whether the speakers’ power levels and social roles influenced their use of language. The results showed that interlocutors with a higher level of power, i.e., superiors in the work setting, typically used different Mood structures of the clause and different types of modality compared to those with less power, i.e., subordinates. These findings indicate that those in power play the role of instruction-givers, while those with less power are instruction-receivers. Interlocutors who are in power appear to have more opportunities to express their attitudes and judgments than their subordinates. As a result, they can influence workplace and business communication by making it more or less formal.


Mood and Modality, Interpersonal Meaning, Workplace Discourse, Workplace Communication, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares

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