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Language

Functions of a Language
Objectives
Recall the characteristics of language
Identify the elements of a language
Identify the various functions of language
Describe these functions
Characteristics of a Language
Human
Non-Instinctive
Systematic
Verbal
Symbolic
Dynamic
Maturational
Arbitrary
Elements of Language:
What do you know when you
know a language?
Phonetics - the study of speech sounds
Phonology - the study of the sound system of a
language
Morphology the study of the grammatical
structure of words
Semantics the study of different aspects of
meaning
Elements of Language:
What do you know when you
know a language? 2

Syntax the study of the grammatical structure


of sentences
Lexicon refers to the vocabulary of a language
Pragmatics - how we use speech in
communication, and how context aids the
transmission of meaning in utterances
Functions of Language
Human beings are dependent on language for
thinking, consciousness, planning, production
and leadership
Functions of language refers to:
its purpose
what it does

its uses
Functions of Language
Communicative Performative
Informative Social

Reflective Identifying

Expressive Phatic

Directive Imprecatory

Ritual
Communicative
Main function
Used for communicating our ideas, information
and our thoughts via statements, questions and
commands
Informative
Essentially, the communication of information
to others.
Affirms or denies propositions, as in science or
the statement of a fact.
Used to describe the world or reason about it.
Reflective
Use of language to savour the past, ponder on
spoken or written words and to think out
strategies for coping with and controlling the
physical, as well as spiritual world.
Expressive
Reports feelings or attitudes of the writer (or
speaker), or of the subject, or evokes feelings in
the reader (or listener).
Speech or writing is viewed as cathartic.
Poetry and literature are among the best
examples of this function.
Directive
Language used for the purpose of causing (or
preventing) overt action.
Most commonly found in commands and
requests.
Ritual
Also known as ceremonial language use
Not necessarily to communicate but to include
the individual as part of a social (group) activity
Used to pass on rituals and traditions
Performative
Language which performs the action it reports.
For example, "I do" in the marriage ceremony
and the use of performative verbs such as
"accept," "apologize," "congratulate," and
"promise."
These words denote an action which is performed
by using the verb in the first personnothing more
need be done to accomplish the action.
Social
In-group language e.g. teenage coinages, dialects
Identifying
Language reveals information about the speaker
Cultural Identity Marker language conveys
information about your country of origin
Phatic
Does not necessarily seek to generate a
meaningful response
Most obvious in spoken communication
Imprecatory
Language used to curse
Note Well

It is rare for discourse just


to serve only one function.
Internet Sources
http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/form_lang.
html
Home Work: Group Activity
Divide into groups of 4 5 persons
and:
Createa dramatic presentation to
highlight -
The communicative function of language
and
At least six (6) of the ten (10) functions of
language