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Language functions

1. The Expressive Function

The core of the expressive function is the mind of the speaker, the writer, the originator of the
utterance. The characteristic ‘expressive’ text-types are:

-Serious imaginative literature such as lyrical poetry, short stories, novels and plays.

-Authoritative statements (they are denotative, not connotative) such as political speeches,
documents etc., by ministers or party leaders; statues and legal documents; scientific, philosophical
and ‘academic’ works written by acknowledged authorities. Example: “The Congress shall have
power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation” (The Constitution of the US)

-Autobiography, essays, personal correspondence-Example: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting


struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness” (D. Lee, George Orwell: Animal Farm- Nineteen
Eighty-Four)

2. The Informative Function

The core of the informative function of language is external situation, the facts of a topic, reality
outside language, including reported ideas or theories.

-Minutes or agenda of a meeting- Example:” Mr. Blue has explained the steps one should take in
order to solve this problem.”

-Article in a newspaper- Example: “The president will be visiting France later this month accompanied
by the First Lady.”

3. The Vocative Function

The core of the vocative function of language is the readership, the addressee. For the purposes of
translation, the vocative function is used in notices, instructions, publicity, propaganda etc.

Example: Margaret Astor lipstick: “Colour your emotions!”

4. The Aesthetic Function

Its purpose is to please the senses, firstly through its actual or imagined sound, and secondly through
its metaphors. The rhythm, balance and contrasts of sentences, clauses and words also play their
part. The sound-effects consist of alliteration, assonance, rhyme, metaphor etc.

-Alliteration- Example: “sweet silent thought” (Shakespeare)

-Assonance- Example: “my crying baby”


-Rhyme- Example:” The Lotos blooms below the barren peak,

The Lotos blooms by every winding creek.” (Alfred Lord Tennyson)

-Metaphor- Example: “spraying Story Streams in every direction”.

5. The Phatic Function

The phatic function of language is used for maintaining friendly contact with the addressee. Apart
from tone of voice, it usually occurs in the form of standard phrases of ‘phaticisms’.

Spoken language- Example:” How are you?”; “See you tomorrow.”

Written language- Example: “of, course”; “It is well-known that...”

6. The Metalingual Function

The metalingual function of language indicates a language’s ability to explain, name, and criticize its
own features. SL expressions signaling metalingual words: ‘so called’; ‘so to speak’; ‘by definition’ etc.

Example: “He strictly speaking worked out that the planets did not have the same orbit.”