Roman Jakobson Functions of Language
What is Language?
Language is an indispensable element of every society and culture. It allows people to communicate, which is important for the smooth functioning of any society. Also, language enables people to learn about their cultures from other societies and cultures through communication with individuals who belong in those other societies and cultures.
The language also offers a way of thinking that can be used both by individuals within a society as well as between different societies. As such, it has been studied extensively by scholars across many disciplines, including linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists
Roman Jakobson 6 Functions of Language
Roman Jakobson was a Russian linguist born at the end of the 19th century. He identified six functions for language as well as summarized the communication process with a description consisting of the following elements: the sender, the recipient, the message, the context, the channel, and the code.
It was from this description that the language functions were drawn. Roman Jakobson six functions for language include:
1. The phatic function
2. The referential function
3. The poetic function
4. The metalingual function
5. The emotive function
6. The conative function
Emotive function of language
What Is the Emotive function of language?
The emotive function of language refers to the ability of language to evoke emotions or influence the attitudes of the listener. This function is often used in literature, theater, and art to create a desired emotional response in the audience. In linguistics, it is used to examine the speaker’s sentiment towards the message being conveyed.
Emotive function of language examples
Example: “Wow, what a view!”
The Conative Function of Language
The conative function of language is one of the four main functions of speech, which include referential, phatic, and poetic functions. This function of language is used to motivate or inspire someone to take action or feel a certain way.
This type of language has been used for centuries by speakers around the world, such as parents teaching morals to children through stories and soldiers motivating each other before battle. The grammatical expressions of conative are found in the vocative and imperative forms.
Examples of Conative Function
Example: “Go on, “” open it! “”Get out of here” ” Check this out.” “Tom! Come inside and eat!”
The Referential Function of Language
The referential function of language is used to convey information and is closely related to the context of the message.
It is the representative function of language, where meaning is not immediately obvious without an understanding of the context in which the message is being used.
This function is the most obvious aspect of language and is used when words are used to denote objects or facts. The language user can be confident that the meaning of a word or phrase corresponds to the physical entity it represents, this is known as denotative meaning.
Examples of Referential Function
Example: Our business hours are 9am-5pm, Monday through Friday.
The Phatic Function of Language
The Phatic Function of Language is a concept first introduced by anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski. The term is derived from the Greek word “phatos,” which means “word,” and refers to language that serves as a social tool for communication, but has no inherent or implied meaning.
Phatic communication is language spoken for the purpose of building emotional connections, creating goodwill, or fostering a friendly social atmosphere, rather than conveying information or asking questions.
It serves to establish, recognize, or strengthen social relationships, and typically includes greetings, small talk, and other casual conversation that fulfills a purely social role.
Phatic Function of Language:
Examples include: “Hello!” “Are you listening?” “Do you hear me?”.
The Metalinguistic Function of Language
The metalinguistic function of language is the use of language to talk about or describe language itself, as opposed to conveying meaning.
This can occur in any form of communication, including verbal conversation, written correspondence, and social media.
It is a way for people to learn about the structure and mechanics of language by experimenting with it, such as making puns, playing with sound patterns, and reinterpreting common expressions.
Examples of Metalinguistic Function
Examples of the metalinguistic function include language used to confirm mutual understanding, such as phrases like “Do you understand?”, “Do you see what I mean?”, “Do you know?”, or “Let me explain.”
This function also includes questions or statements from the listener to clarify meaning, such as “What does that mean?” This function can be used consciously or unconsciously and can lead to the creation of new words or phrases, known as neologisms.
The Poetic Function of Language
The poetic function of language refers to the use of language in an aesthetic context. It includes the use of sounds, repetition, echo, rhythm, and other literary devices such as alliteration and assonance.
This function can be found in poetry, songs, speeches, newspaper headlines, advertisements, and political slogans. It is used to create a specific effect or atmosphere in the listener or reader.
Examples of the Poetic Function
Examples: But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
Mechanism of Communication
According to Jakobson (1960), communication is a multi-faceted process that requires the analysis of all the purposes of language. He noted that it is rare to find verbal messages that serve only one purpose. He proposed that for effective communication to take place, the following steps must be followed:
- A sender (Addresser) sends a message to a receiver (Addressee).
- The message can only be understood when it is placed in a context.
- The sender and receiver must understand the code that explains the relationship between the message and the context.
- Physical contact must be established between the sender and receiver to convey the message.
According to Jakobson (1960), “each of these six features (Addresser-Message-Context-Contact-Code-Addresse) defines a different language function.”
The following table shows the correspondence between these features and the Jakobson language functions:
|FACTORS OF A SPEECH EVENT||Language functions||PURPOSE|
|ADDRESSER – a speaker addresses a Message||Emotive Function||Conveying Emotions|
|ADDRESSEE – a hearer who may be absent or implicit||Conative Function||Conveying Commands|
|CONTEXT – referent or subject matter of the discourse, what it refers to||Referential Function||Conveying Information|
|CONTACT – channel or connection between the two parties||Phatic Function||Concerning Contact|
|CODE – fully or partly known to addresser and addressee||Metalinguistic Function||Conveying Code Analysis|
|MESSAGE – focus on the message for its own sake||Poetic Function||Conveying Play, Pleasure|
Source: Yaguello, M. (1998) Language through the Looking Glass: Exploring Language and Linguistics.