Functions of Spoken Language

Spoken language can also serve a variety of functions.

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Referential

Referential

Utterances that provide information are said to have a referential function.

For example: an announcement at a train station.

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Expressive

Expressive

Utterances that are said to have an expressive function if they express the speaker's feelings.

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Transactional

Transactional

These are verbal exchanges in which the main emphasis is on getting something done.

For example: asking for directions.

 

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Interactional

Interactional

Here, the main emphasis is on the social relationship between the participants.

For example: speaking to someone who you have not seen for a while.

 

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Phatic Communication

Phatic Communication

This is the technical term for "small talk".  Utterances such as "Hello" or "Turned out nice again hasn't it?" are phatic.

Conversations often begin with phatic exchanges.  They play an important role in establishing and maintaining social relationships.

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