Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Communicative English and Language functions

The phrase ‘Communicative English’ refers to that English which
helps us to communicate effectively with people using language functions.

What are Language Functions?

Language functions are the purposes for which we use specific
expressions /utterances / phrases when we speak or write. Some
examples of language functions are: Asking someone for his/her likes and
dislikes, expressing our thanks to one who has helped us, etc. For
making a request, we may use one of the following expressions:

Could you tell me where the post office is?


Tell me where the post office is.

Both these sentences convey the message. The first one carries
something of the speaker’s cultured behaviour, that is, being polite.
Thus, the expressions we use speak about the culture of the speaker.

There are a number of expressions for a particular function. For
inviting someone to a party, we can use one of the following expressions:

1. I’d like you to attend my birthday party this evening.
2. Why don’t you attend my birthday party this evening?
3. I should be delighted if you could attend my birthday party
this evening.

Of the three expressions, the first one can be used to a person
just known to you, a sort of neutral situation: the second your intimate
friend, an informal situation and the third to your employer or someone highly
respectable, a formal situation.

Along with these three kinds of situations we need to consider the
following four main factors before using an expression:

The setting: Where you are and when you speak
The topic: What you are talking about
Your social relationship: Who you are talking to
Your attitude: What you feel about the topic or the other person

All the four factors combine to influence the way we speak.

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