To Make A Difference: Interpersonal Meanings in Museum-Texts: A Case-Study of the Children’s Museum in Amman

Ahmad El-Sharif


Systemic Functional Linguistics explicates how texts communicate ideational, interpersonal, and textual meanings. Texts produced by cultural and pedagogic institutions, such as museums, depend on several discursive choices to construct interpersonal meanings communicated through the interaction between the institution, and what it stands for, and the interactant visitors. Museum-texts communicate to/with visitors meanings pertaining to social relationships construed by both the museum and its audience and communicate the mutual relationships between them in relation to role, status, social distance, and feelings of solidarity and affiliation. Meanwhile, children museums have become a widespread phenomenon that promote edifying missions communicated to children through entertaining, interacting, and learning. This study recognises how one exhibition, named ‘I am Change’ in the Children’s Museum in Amman, relies on verbal interpersonal communication to align its young visitors into shared dispositions and perspectives towards environmental concerns related to the importance of conserving electric energy and water resources in Jordan.


Museum-Texts, Interpersonal Meaning, Conserving Energy, Conserving Water, Children’s Museum, Amman.

Full Text:



Al-Hinti, Ismael and ‪ Al-Sallami, Hesham. (2017). ‘Potentials and Barriers of Energy Saving in Jordan’s Residential Sector through Thermal Insulation’. Jordan Journal of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, 11(3). (pp. 141-145)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Blunden, J. (2016). The Language With Displayed Art(Efacts): Linguistic And Sociological Perspectives On Meaning, Accessibility And Knowledge-Building In Museum Exhibitions. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis. University of Technology/Australia. Available online via:

Blunden, J. (2020). ‘Adding ‘something more’ to looking: The interaction of artefact, verbiage and visitor in museum exhibitions’. Visual Communication, 19(1), 45–71.

Brown, R., and Gilman, A. (1960). ‘The pronouns of power and solidarity’. In T. A. Sebeok (ed.), Style in Language, (pp. 253–276). The Technology Press of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Children, M. (2020). ‘The Children’s Museum-Jordan Annual Report 2020’. Available online via:

Ching, F. (1996). Architecture: Form, Space and Order. 2nd ed. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Ferguson, L., Carolyn, M., and Louise, R. (1995). Meanings And Messages: Language Guidelines For Museum Exhibitions. Sydney: Australian Museum.

Halliday, M. (1978). Language as Social Semiotic. London: Hodder Arnold.

Halliday, M., & Matthiessen, Ch. (2014). Halliday’s Introduction to Functional Grammar. 4th ed. London: Routledge.

Jarada, H., & Ashhaba, M. (2017). ‘Energy Savings in the Jordanian Residential Sector’. Jordan Journal of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, 11(1). (pp. 51 -59)

Kress, G., Jewitt, Carey, J., O., and Tsatarelis, Ch. (2001). Multimodal Teaching and Learning: The Rhetorics of the Science Classroom. London: Continuum.

Kosatica, M. (2019). ‘Sarajevo’s War Childhood Museum: A Social Semiotic Analysis of ‘Combi-Memorials’ as Spatial Texts.’ In R. Blackwood and J. Macalister (eds.) Multilingual Memories Monuments, Museums and the Linguistic Landscape, (pp. 161-184). London: Bloomsbury Publishing

Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. (2016). Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) ‘Annual report 2015’. Available online via:; accessed on 19 January 2021.

Parker, F., Riley, X., & Kathryn, L. (1994). Linguistics for Non-linguists. 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Rangel, J. (1987). ‘A Children's Museum Adjusts to a New Brooklyn’. The New York Times. Retrieved on 14.2.2021 from

Ravelli, L. (1996). ‘Making language accessible: Successful text writing for museum visitors’. Linguistics and Education, 8(4), 367–387.

Ravelli, L. (1998). The consequences of choices: Discursive positioning in an art institution. In A. Sanchez-Macarro and R. Carter (eds.), Linguistic choice across genres: Variation in spoken and written English, (pp. 137–153). John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Ravelli, L. (2006. Museum texts: Communication frameworks. Routledge.

Ravelli, L., & McMurtrie, R. (2015). Multimodality in the Built Environment: Spatial Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge.

Ravelli, L., & Stenglin, M. (2008). ‘Feeling space: interpersonal communication and spatial semiotics’. In E. Ventola (ed.) Handbook of Applied Linguistics, Vol. 2, Interpersonal Communication, (pp. 355–393). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Searle, John. R. (2002). ‘Speech Acts, Mind and Social Reality.’ In G. Grewendorf and G. Meggle (eds.) Speech Acts, Mind and Social Reality: Discussions with John R. Searle, (pp. 3–16). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

Smith, S., & Foote, K. (2017). ‘Museum/Space/Discourse: Analyzing Discourse in Three Dimensions in Denver’s History Colorado Center.’ Cultural Geographies, 24 (1): 131–148. doi:

Stenglin, M. (2008). ‘Interpersonal meaning in 3D space: How a bonding icon gets its ‘charge’’. In: Unsworth, L. (ed.) Multimodal Semiotics: Functional Analysis in Contexts of Education, (pp. 50-66) London: Continuum.

Stenglin, M. (2009). ‘Space odyssey: towards a social semiotic model of three-dimensional space’. Visual Communication, 8(1): (pp. 35-64). doi:10.1177/1470357208099147

Sumartojo, S. (2017). ‘Local Complications: Anzac Commemoration, Education and Tourism at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance’. In J. Wallis and D. C. Harvey (eds.) Commemorative Spaces of the First World War: Historical Geographies at the Centenary, (pp. 156-172). London: Routledge.

Yarrow, A. (1989). ’New Children's Museum Joins 2 Old Favorites’. The New York Times. Retrieved on 16.2.021 from



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.