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Function of language



Language functions


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Language functions

  1. 1. Outlines: Defining language Defining function Language function processing Proponents of language functions Aspects of language functions a) General or micro b) Meta or macro Conclusion
  2. 2. Defining language: An abstract system of symbols and meanings. Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of voluntarily produced symbols.(Sapir) The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.
  3. 3. Defining function: The word function is often used in different senses in the literature of linguistics:  In sociological studies of language, function is often used to refer to the role language plays in society.  In ethnography, scholars use function to refer to the specific uses of language.  In systemic-functional linguistics, functions of language are highly generalized categories of meaning which simultaneously underlie an utterance
  4. 4. Language function processing: • Language function is processed socially when individuals make use of their tongue for interaction. • Biologically much of the language function is processed in several association areas, and there are two well-identified areas that are considered vital for human communication: Wernicke area Broca area
  5. 5. Proponents of language functions: In the history of linguistics we find many renowned personalities who worked on language functions but some of the prominent are: a) Roman Jakobson b) Bronislaw Malinowski c) Micheal Halliday d) Finch
  6. 6. Aspects of language functions: We can study language functions in two aspects: 1. General or micro aspects 2. Meta or macro aspects 1. General or micro aspects: Refer to the particular individual uses of language in a society. Finch (1998) lists seven general (micro) functions: a) Physiological b) Phatic c) Recording
  7. 7. d) Identifying e) Reasoning f) Communicating g) Pleasure a) Physiological • Emotive or expressive function • Releasing physical and nervous energy
  8. 8. • Such as our expression of fear and affection, surprise or our involuntary verbal reactions to beautiful things. • According to Finch instructions allow us to release inner feelings • A great deal of so-called 'bad language' or swearing fulfills this function.
  9. 9. b) Phatic function: • coined from Marlinowski • express our willingness to be sociable • helps us negotiate the start and end of exchanges whether in spoken or written form
  10. 10. c) Recording function: • denotes using language to make a durable record of things that ought to be remembered. • The most significant function behind the development of language from being an oral medium to becoming a written one. • It might be a short-term record, as in a shopping list or a list of things to do, or a long-term record, as in a diary or history of some kind
  11. 11. d) Identifying function: • allows us to identify an enormous array of objects and events with considerable precision • quick and accurate reference • helpful in proper arrangements • we use names to classify different types of things, whether we call a car anautomobile, a lorry, a van or a truck makes a big difference.
  12. 12. e) Reasoning function • A tool of thought • Before we say something we think and to do that we necessarily use language. • Speaking and writing comes from thought • Reasoning may vary in connotations e.g., "black" may be associated with evil and death, and "white" with purity and goodness
  13. 13. f) Communicating function • referential or prepositional function • We use language to express ourselves to others • We also need language in order to understand what they are communicating to us • Requesting, apologizing, informing, ordering as well as promising and refusing are all reasons for communicating our ideas.
  14. 14. g) Pleasure functions • Language allows us to derive pleasure from it. • A large part of the pleasure we derive from language comes from the successful exploitation of linguistic novelty at different levels of the language • For example language often gives pleasure both to the speakers and listeners supported by the frequent use of assonance, alliteration and onomatopoeia in poetry.
  15. 15. 2. Meta or macro aspects: • The term metafunction originates in systemic functional linguistics and is considered to be a property of all languages. • A function which is capable of describing one or more other functions. • Michael Halliday, the founder of systemic functional linguistics, calls these three functions: a) ideational b) interpersonal c) textual
  16. 16. a) Ideational function: • the content function of language and allows us to conceptualize the world for our own benefit and that of others • language as a cording system which deals with the relation between man and nature • The ideational function is further divided into: 1) experiential 2) logical
  17. 17. 1) Experiential function: • The experiential function refers to the grammatical choices that enable speakers to make meanings about the world around us and inside us • it is through this process of humans making meaning from experience that language evolved • For example when we watch small children interacting with the objects around them we can see that they are using language to construe a theoretical model of their experience
  18. 18. 2) Logical function: • Those systems which set up logical–semantic relationships between one clausal unit and another • When two clauses are combined, a speaker chooses whether to give both clauses equal status, or to make one dependent on the other. • In addition, a speaker choose some meaning relation in the process of joining or binding clauses together
  19. 19. b) Interpersonal function: • It is the participatory function of language • language servers as a medium between individuals • we use language to interact with others, to establish and maintain relations with them, to please them, to anger them, and influence their behavior, to get their help or sympathy
  20. 20. c) Textual function: • the relation of language to the verbal and nonverbal situational environment • when language is in use, playing the the previous two metafunctions, it naturally forms a text • language as a system organizes messages in a unified manner so that chunks of messages fit logically with others around them and with the wider context in which the talking or writing takes place
  21. 21. Conclusion: Functions of Language is an international journal of linguistics which explores the functionalist perspective on the organization and use of natural language. Language affords human beings the ability to communicate anything they can imagine. As a tool, language is infinitely flexible and can be put to multiple purposes. Functions of Language promotes the constructive interaction between linguistics and such neighboring disciplines as sociology, cultural studies, psychology, ethology, communication studies, translation theory and educational linguistics.
  22. 22. Thank you! 
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