Expressive function of language: what it is, characteristics and examples

Language functions are the different ways in which we humans communicate verbally, conveying messages based on the different intentionalities of the sender.

Among them we find the expressive function of language, where the emotions and feelings of the sender take on special importance, since they are sentences with a strong subjective component.

Below we will go deeper into this expressive function, in addition to seeing its linguistic peculiarities and we are going to give some examples to finish understanding it a little better.

    The expressive function of language

    The expressive function of language, also called emotional or symptomatic function, is a linguistic function used for the purpose of communicating moods, feelings, emotions, beliefs or other subjective aspects to a recipient of the transmitter.

    It is one of the 6 functions of language described by the Russian philologist and linguist Roman Jakobson with the appellation, the referential, the phatic, the poetic and the metalinguistic.

    This type of function is one of the most used and aims to show the intention of the speaker when transmitting certain information. This function is based on the subjectivity of the sender, therefore the one who conveys the message plays the most important role in the communication, because it is this person who expresses his feelings to the recipient.

    In addition to transmitting information, at the same time the speaker expresses his attitude towards what he says and can also reveal his personality traits to us.

      Linguistic aspects

      The expressive or emotional function of language generally uses specific verbal forms. Since this is almost always the sender of the message, what is usual is that they are formulated by conjugating verbs in the first person.

      You seem to me to be the prettiest person in the world.

      However, expressive function messages can also be delivered using impersonal formulas, as in the following example:

      How beautiful the sea is!

      In this case, the expressive function is used, because the sender conveys a message loaded with an emotional component, although it does so in an impersonal form. In other words, the sender’s feelings are displayed but in the sentence he utters he does not use first person verbal forms.

      Another feature of the expressive function of language is that it usually uses the subjunctive mood, exclamatory sentences, interjections or onomatopoeias in order to bring out the feelings of the sender. Desires, preferences and feelings are also expressed subjectively.

      I would like Susanna to love me!

      Alas, what pain!

      It must also be said that the expressive function of language it can be evidenced by aspects of non-verbal language, such as gestures, tics or the intensity of the voice. A sentence can acquire a truly emotional tone not only with the words used, but also with the way the sender pronounces it, using non-verbal language that reinforces the verbal expressions themselves.

        The expressive function and the media

        Early in life, humans only use non-verbal language to express their moods.. Babies, even if they cannot speak, somehow manage to transmit what they want to transmit (hunger, pain, joy) through their gestures, their crying, inflections of voice and bodily contact. In fact, you could say that children only have an emotional language to convey their moods.

        However, as we grow up and master verbal language, we acquire the ability to use other functions of language. Adult male gestures can be intentional and have more than one interpretation, but the direct message is expressed using words while reinforcing it with non-verbal language, as we saw earlier.

        This is something that we can see relatively easily with the media. These platforms convey opinion messages on an issue of interest to a community, seeking to get public opinion to take a position on reality and, as far as possible, to modify its behavior in the direction desired by the media. . His message therefore has a subjective component in which he uses sentimental expressions to arouse emotions in the audience. Thus, we are talking not only about the expressive function of language, but also about its attractiveness.

        Opinion messages can take different forms, all of which use more or less the expressive or emotional function of language.

        1. Maintenance

        The interview consists of one or more journalists asking questions to the interviewee. These questions usually revolve around a monographic subject or in relation to the interviewee’s own history and life.

          2. Collaborations

          In collaborations, a prestigious person expresses his opinion, usually on a regular basis, on topical issues. of the day or of the week. Sometimes his opinion relates to very specific and specialized areas, which is called specialized criticism.

            3. Debates and talks

            Different people in debates and symposia they are talking about a subject that arouses passions and that is why they generally do not agree. Because of this, it is almost inevitable that they resort to the expressive function of language, exposing the emotions aroused by the subject under discussion and what they think of the opinions of others.

              4. Editorial

              The editorial section is made up of texts that express the opinion of a media outlet, usually a newspaper on a particular subject.. If the purpose of newspapers is to convey information in the most objective way possible, it is inevitable that the editor and the editors will have certain opinions about what is going on in the world, with the publisher’s space being the place. reserved for advertising. .

                Examples of prayers with an expressive function

                Now that we have seen what is the expressive function of language and what are its linguistic characteristics, we will see some sentences as an example to understand:

                • My back hurts a lot !
                • I’m sick of so much nonsense!
                • I like being with you in class.
                • I am frustrated to wait for your call. It has been a week!
                • I’m so glad they gave you this job!
                • Of all the islands, Menorca is my favorite.
                • How you grew up!
                • I am very angry with you. Not only did I miss you, but you didn’t apologize either.
                • I am really sorry. I was wrong. This will not happen again.
                • You are the most beautiful model of all!
                • What a joy to see you again!
                • It’s finally Friday !
                • I’ve had it up to here!
                • I’m afraid of what might happen.
                • What a bad smell!
                • I love you.
                • I am sorry!
                • I admire Albert Einstein so much …
                • I hate you so much that I can’t put it into words.
                • What have I done to deserve this?
                • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

                Bibliographical references

                • Avila, R. (1977). The language and the speakers. Mexico, Trillas: p. 116-127.
                • Mounin, G. (1976). Linguistics of the 20th century, Madrid, Gredos: p. 143-148.
                • Jakobson, R. (1963). Essays in general linguistics. Paris: midnight.
                • Bühler, K. (1934). Language theory. Madrid: Editorial by Aliança.

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