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What Are Language Forms and Functions?

The Functions of Language include its purpose, its use, and what it does. These include
the following:
1. Informative language function: communicating information, such as facts.
2. Expressive language function: reporting feelings or attitudes or evoking these
feelings in the reader/listener.
3. Directive language function: using language to cause or prevent actions, such as in
commands or requests.
* There are other categories of language functions as well, as explained in the class.
These are the most common/general categories.
Most ordinary kinds of discourse/conversation is mixed and multiple functions might apply in
one communication.
The Forms of Language include the types of sentences used (declarative, interrogatory,
imperative, exclamatory) and the method of sharing the information (e.g., conversation,
letter, briefing, speech).
The success of any conversation depends on each speakers approach to the
conversation. The way in which people try to make conversations work is based on four
underlying rules, or maxims (called Grices maxims, after the language philosopher, H.P.
Grice.) These include the following:
Quality speakers should tell the truth, not say what they think or know to be false, or
make statements without evidence.
Quantity speakers should be as informative as is required for the conversation to
continue; they should say neither too little, nor too much.
Relevance speakers contributions should relate only to the purpose of the exchange.
Manner speakers contributions should be clear, orderly, and brief--avoiding ambiguity.
* Remember that the forms of language used in a conversation is not determined by
how formal/informal a situation might look like. It depends to how the individual
involved use the language that determines it, as role-played in class.
Notes adapted from
treasures.macmillanmh.com/assets/extras/0001/.../Forms_and_Functions_FINAL.pdf