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 word ‘emotive’ means to create an emotional response from the audience. The term is widely used in literature, theater, and art, for example to denote a kind of language which evokes strong feelings or emotions. In linguistics, it refers to a specific function of language that has the ability to influence the moods or attitudes of people using it.
This function demonstrates the attitudes of the addressee towards the content of the message; that is, it looks at the sentiment of the speaker towards the content of the message.
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 functions of speech, along with others such as referential, phatic, and poetic.
This particular function refers to a type of language that has been used for centuries by speakers across the globe – from parents teaching their children about morals through stories to soldiers motivating each other before going into battle. Its purpose is to motivate or inspire someone to do something or feel a certain way.
Conative finds its purest grammatical expression in the vocative and imperative.
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
This function is related to the context. The function is to deal with something contextual, that is, a contextual meaning. It’s the “Representative.” Meaning here is not going to be obvious without an explicit understanding of the sense of utterance.
Reference feature refers to any message that is designed to communicate information. It is the most obvious feature of the language, as is the case when words are used to denote items or facts. In this feature, the language consumer guarantees that the meaning of a word or phrase is the physical entity that the expression stands for. This is denotative.
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 notion developed first by anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski. The term was coined from the Greek “phatos,” which means “word,” and it refers to language that serves as a social tool for communication with no explicit or implicit meaning.
Phatic communication refers to the language spoken for the purpose of sharing emotions, creating goodwill, or creating a friendly social atmosphere and for all social purposes, rather than giving information or asking questions.
In other words, it defines, recognizes, or strengthens social relations; it is communicative actions that fulfill an exclusively social role, acts that serve to confirm ‘union bonds,’ such as more or less formal health surveys, weather comments or comments on trivial matters.
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 words and phrases to talk about or describe, not what they mean but just their form. This can take place in any form of communication, including face-to-face conversation, telephone conversations, written correspondence such as letters or e-mails, and social media platforms.
It is a way that people learn how language works by using it themselves, like making a joke (puns), playing with sound patterns (onomatopoeia’s), and creating new meanings for old expressions like “tongue-tied.”
Examples of Metalinguistic Function
The ‘metalinguistic’ function is aimed at verifying that the sender and the receiver understand one another, example: ‘You understand?’, ‘You see what I mean?’, ‘You know?’, ‘Let me explain …’; or, from the receiver’s point of view, ‘What does that mean?’,
Metalinguistic activity may be unconscious, and this often produces neologisms.
The Poetic Function of Language
This considers language in its esthetic context. Bring on the sounds of words, alliteration, assonance, repetition, echo, or rhythm effects, all of which are part of this feature. We find it in poems, of course, but also in songs, oratory, newspaper headlines, publicity, and political slogans.
Examples of the Poetic Function
Examples: But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
Mechanism of Communication
Jakobson (1960) argues that language must be analyzed for all its purposes. He noticed that we could hardly find verbal messages that would only fulfill one purpose. The philosophy behind these functions is that saying something to someone requires the following process;
- An Addressersends a Message to an Addressee.
- The Messagecannot be understood outside of a Context.
- The Addresser and the Addressee need to understand the Code that explains the relationship between the Message and the Context.
- A physical Contact must be established between them 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.