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• Four main theoretical claims about language:
1. That language use is functional
2. That its function is to make meanings
3. That these meanings are influenced by the social and cultural context in
which they are exchanged
4. That the process of using language is a semiotic process, a process of
making meanings by choosing
• The conative function is manifested directly in "Go answer the door" and
indirectly in "The doorbell rang" (which is equivalent to "Go answer the
Language use in context
• Exactly what dimensions of context have an impact on language use.
• Since clearly not every aspect of context makes a difference to
language use (e.g. the hair color of the interactants is usually
irrelevant), just what bits of the context do get “into” the text.
• Which aspects of language use appear to be effected by particular
dimensions of the context. For example, if we contrast texts in which
the interactants are friends with texts where the interactants are
strangers, we specify where in the language they use this contextual
difference will be expressed
Thus Jakobson distinguishes six communication functions, each associated with a dimension of
the communication process:
3 sender --------------- 4 receiver
• 1 referential (= contextual information-to be operative message requires a context)
• 2 aesthetic/poetic (= primarily serving to establish, to prolong, or to discontinue
• 3 emotive (= self-expression)
• 4 conative (= engages the Addressee (receiver) directly e.g. Tom! Come inside the house)
• 5 phatic (=physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and the
addressee-enter or stay in conversation e.g. hello, ok?, Hmmm)
• 6 metalingual (= checking code working- language common to the addresser and the
Halliday (1975), like Saussure, sees
language as a social and cultural phenomenon as
opposed to a biological one, like Chomsky.
• Some of Halliday's early work involved the study of
his son's developing language abilities.
• Halliday identifies seven functions that language
has for children in their early years.
• Children are motivated to acquire language
because it serves certain purposes for them.
• The first four functions help the child to satisfy
physical, emotional and social needs.
* The first
Instrumental: This is
when the child uses
language to express
their needs (e.g.'Want
Regulatory: This is where
language is used to tell
others what to do(e.g. 'Go
Interactional: to make
contact with others and
form relationships (e.g
'Love you, mummy')
Personal: use to
The next three functions
help the child to come to
terms with his or her
used to gain
tell stories and
jokes, and to
convey facts and
SYSTEMIC FUNCTIONAL LINGUISTICS
Systemic-Functional Linguistics (SFL) is a theory of language centred
around the notion of language function.
• A central notion of SFL is stratification: language is analysed in terms
of four strata:
• Lexico-Grammar and
Context and Text
Who is involved?
Nature of the
Tenor: who is
taking part; the
social roles and
the text, : what
do for them in
-Semantics, divided into
• Ideational Semantics,
• Interpersonal Semantics and
• Textual Semantics.
-Lexico-Grammar concerns the syntactic organization of words
Robinho plays football.
Three types of meaning in one clause
As a matter of fact, the text consists of clauses.
Each clause carries: ideational, interpersonal and textual function of language
Language encodes all three kinds of meanings
simultaneously in one clause. When you say
“Robinho plays football.” you are:
• representing or describing something
• interacting with someone (interpersonal
•By Telling something and organizing your message
in a linear flow (textual meaning).
Each of this aspects is achieved through your choice
of lexico-grammar options.