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 TASK 3: Language functions

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PostSubject: TASK 3: Language functions   Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:02 pm

Based on the transcript for the Desperate Housewives clip http://linguisticadeldiscurso.blogspot.com/2008/05/jakobson-scene-for-analysis.html we'll discuss now how language forms reflect Jakobson's language functions. Follow these guidelines:

a) Read each sentence carefully.
b) Analyze how lexemes/constituents point to a particular function of language.
c) Decide which function prevails in each sentence.
d) When you post the reply, write the sentence and next to it, directly state which function prevails and why.


To organize our work, I've decided to assign a section to each of the members as follows:

MarinaP BEGINNING - "need a moment."
Adriana A Bree's second turn.
MarianelaB FROM "Rex: Why?" to END of Bree's reply.
GustavoP Rex's fourth turn.
virginial FROM "Bree: Yes, I am" to "ignore you.".
javiers REST OF Rex's turn.
Belén I AND florenciaonti Bree's fifth turn.
julietaf FROM "Rex: Because I disagree..." TILL THE END OF HIS TURN.
micaela g Bree's reply (her sixth turn).
agustinam Rex's answer to Bree's 6th turn.
VTrinidad Rex's "Eighteen years of smiling and taking, what a liar I was".
ValeriaF END OF Rex's previous turn and Bree's reply.
ArianaR Rex's "What the hell...".
RCamila Rex's answer to Bree's 6th turn (In case agustinam fails to contribute).
JulietaGrameg Bree's last turn.
elianaa Rex's last turn.

Task due Friday 6.


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PostSubject: Sample answer   Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:12 pm

Given this exchange:

A: Is that your husband?
B: No, he's at work.

In A, the possessive clearly indicates the addresser's intention towards the addressee (conative function). However, the items "that" (deictic) and "husband" (an element in the context) prevail as A wants to find out whether that man is B's husband or not. Then the REFERENTIAL function is more relevant here.


In B, and for similar reasons, the same conclusion may be derived.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Fri Jun 06, 2008 7:29 pm

" I never pushed you around!!! We always made our decisions together!"

In this statement, the addresser (Bree) and the addressee (Rex) are important. Bree puts emphasis not on the content of the message but on the person she is talking to. The EMOTIVE function is displayed since she intends to express anger. Interjections are not present. Another function that is highlighted is the CONATIVE one, since the addressee finds its purest grammatical expression in the vocative and imperative, which syntactically, morphologically and phonetically deviate from other nominal and verbal categories. But in this case only Bree´s utterance is analysed. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:18 am

[quote="JulietaGrameg"]Bree: Same thing you just did to every memory I have of our marriage.

In this sentence the Emotive function prevails, because it's focused on the ADDRESSER, on Bree's relation to the message. It's a direct expression of the her attitude toward what her husband is telling her (anger, disappointment), toward her divorce (disillusion, sadness) and all those years they have been married (frustration, probably). As regards syntax, there is ellision at the beginnig. She doesn't answer her husband in a complete sentence (she doesn't say "I'm doing the same thing you ...") There is a reason for this (she's very angry and she cannot control neither what she does nor what she says, contrary to her personality - she always has everything under control), and it's another characteristic of Emotive function.

You may be right, but actually there's a sort of happy balance between the emotive and the conative function. I believe you were too carried away by the content of the exchange instead of focusing on Jakobson's theory (i.e. analyzing the presence of the constitutive factors and its effect on the speech event). So, it's evident that the addresser incriminates the addressee (notice the position of "you" at the front of the sentence and the force of "our" towards the end). At the same time, "I" makes itself evident in between the two.


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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:25 am

Adriana A wrote:
Bree: I think Andrew's been smoking marijuana, so why don't you take this and get it tested right away.

I believe that in this utterance, the referential and the conative functions prevail. The former being because of the deictic elements used in the context -this, it, Andrew ( Question )- and the latter because of the direct reference to Rex, the addressee, by means of the vocative 2nd personal pronoun singular you used by the addresser, Bree.

Very good Adriana!
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:27 am

julietaf wrote:
“Because I disagree, because we’re still getting divorced and don’t have to let you push me around any more”

The prevailing fuction is the EMOTIVE function since the focus is on the addresser. This can be seen in the use of the pronoun “I”, the verbs disagree” and the phrase “push me around” to show how Rex feels not only about the situation but also about their relationship. Besides, the intonation he uses helps us to understand he disagrees with Bree and is tired of her behaviour. By uttering this sentence, his main purpose is not to transmit some information but to express his emotions.

Good analysis, Julieta!
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:28 am

VTrinidad wrote:
Rex`s---> "Eighteen years of smiling and taking, what a liar I was".

In this utterance the Emotive function of Language prevails. Rex is expressing his feelings of frustration and resentment towards his possesive and controlling ex-wife. The use of the pronoun "I" (to refer to himself of course) together with the rest of the phrase help us notice that Rex is now putting into words his failure to get to an agreement on decision-making during his married life and/or his failure to impose his will over Bree's.

I agree. However, the "eighteen years" might also indicate some referential function as well, i.e. their 18-year marriage is given further focus.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:31 am

MarinaP wrote:
Rex (To the other player): "need a moment".

I think that the function that prevails here is the Phatic one because Rex is discontinuing the communication with the other golf player and at the same time it is extending the conversation with Bree.

Agree.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Tue Jun 10, 2008 11:32 am

virginial wrote:
Rex: Proof or no proof, you're not gonna take him off the team.
Bree: Yes, I am. (1)
Rex: If you try I'm gonna go to the coach and tell him to ignore you. (2)

(1) The instance of ellipsis in Bree's "Yes, I am" calls directly for the context. The complete version would be "Yes, I am going to take him off the team". Therefore, the prevailing function in this utterance is REFERENTIAL.

Good.
(2) Even though the use of the second person singular (you) in Rex’s utterance aims at the addressee (CONATIVE function), the EMOTIVE function prevails in this example, since it shows Rex’s intention to threaten his wife or at least prevent her from taking their son off the swim team. It is a direct expression of Rex’s attitude toward what he is speaking about. He is trying to produce an impression of a certain emotion (whether true or feigned).

I see, but don't you think there's a bit of a balance between the emotive and the conative?
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:38 pm

javiers wrote:
We're not gonna screw up Andrew’s future because he “sparked a doobie”, I mean come on, we've all done it.

The EMOTIVE function is the one that prevails. The expression "We're not gonna screw up Andrew’s future" shows Rex's attitude toward Bree's intention to pull the couple's son from the swim-team. The use of the grammatical structure "We're not gonna ..." doesn't imply a factual statement about a future intention but an indirect though quite strong suggestion about Rex's position. In this case the notion of emotive function interweaves with the CONATIVE one since Rex's uses the inclusive "we" to strategically make Bree think alike, to make her feel closer to his idea. Then, the phrasal verb "screw up" ("disturb") is an instance of the POETIC function, where the notion of metaphorical extension from a basic, more concrete meaning is made evident. As Jakobson puts it, the poetic function deepens the fundamental dichotomy of signs and objects. The same applies to the expression "sparked a doobie" ("lit a marijuana cigarette", denoting the act of smoking it too). After that, an instance of the PHATIC function can be traced in "I mean, come on", as a way of keeping the channel of communication open and the interaction going. In the end, the EMOTIVE function is restated in "we've all done it" (meaning "it’s not that terrible") when Rex intends to give reasons for Bree to agree with him. (The REFERENTIAL function is also fulfilled when Rex refers to Andrew's future).

Good analysis.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:40 pm

MarianelaB wrote:
A) Rex: Why?
B) Bree: Because I want to pull him from the swim-team and I don't think they’ll allow it without proof.


A)The REFERENTIAL FUNCTION prevails because to be operative it requires a context.
B)The EMOTIVE FUNCTION prevails because, focused on the ADDRESSER (Bree), it aims at a direct expression of her intention of pulling Andrew out of the swim-team.

MarianelaB, please would you enhance your analysis of Rex's "Why?"?
B is OK to me.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:45 pm

ValeriaF wrote:
Rex: No, you always make decisions and then tell me I agree. Eighteen years of smiling and taking, what a liar I was. Thank God you're out of my life!

By using the expression “Thank God...,” the addresser (Rex) shows a sense of relief towards the situation (Rex and Bree getting divorced). Then he goes on saying “...you’re out of my life!,” since in that part of the sentence Rex refers to a fact, it could be said that the referential function prevails, however the overall function of the utterance is emotive, since Rex’s intention is to distress Bree’s feelings, which, by the way, he does.

I feel you should've justified your choice by resorting to the linguistic material and not to a semantic/pragmatic analysis of the exchange.

After Rex finishes saying this, he walks away and Bree says, “Rex!” In this utterance she uses a vocative, she calls him. Since the message refers to the addressee the conative function is the one which prevails here.Good.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:59 pm

florenciaonti wrote:
Bree: Not all of us. Rex, I thought you moved back home to try to straighten Andrew out and teach him the consequences of his actions, I don't understand why you’re fighting me on this.

Instances of Referential function:

• “Not all of us”. Here there is an instance of ellipsis, the complete sentence is “Not all of us have sparked a dobbie”. We must retrieve that information from Rex’s previous utterance.
• Bree also refers to Andrew who is the context or referent of the message.
• She uses the demonstrative pronoun “this” as anaphoric reference. "This" refers back to the fact that she wants Rex to pull Andrew from the swim team.

Instances of Emotive function:
• The whole utterance depicts the addresser’s attitude towards what she is speaking about. (Bree’s annoyance towards Rex’s previous answer).
• She includes herself in the message by using the 1st person singular pronoun (I) and the objective pronoun (me).
• She uses the verbs “thought” and understand” together with the 1st person singular pronoun (I) which show her attitude with regard to the utterance that follows, she not just describing an operation.(subjectivity indicators)

Instances of Conative function:
• Bree orientates her message toward the addressee (Rex) by using the 2nd person singular pronoun (you) twice.

She places both of them in a clear parallel opposition while speaking (I thought you…/ I don’t understand why you…)

I consider that the Emotional function is the one that prevails since her annoyance is the most outstanding feature in this sentence.

The analysis may be right, but you should've focused on the linguistic signs that support your decision.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:05 pm

RCamila wrote:
Rex: No, you always make decisions and then tell me I agree.


The function of language that prevails in this utterance is the EMOTIVE function since it reflects the speaker’s attitude to the topic of discourse. The use of the pronouns “I” and “me” together with the intonation given to “I” confirm that Rex is tired of his controlling wife.
The CONATIVE function is also present in the use of “you” aiming at the addressee. By uttering Bree’s same words but changing the pronoun and the intonation, Rex refutes Bree’s previous statement in which she stated that he was involved in the decision-making process.

RCamila, I feel we should at least accept a sort of balance between the two functions, which may in fact confirm their conflict.
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PostSubject: Re: TASK 3: Language functions   Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:09 pm

elianaa wrote:
Rex: You know what? If you were my mom, I´d smoke pod too!

The prevailing function is EMOTIVE: Rex is trying to produce an impression of an emotion; in this case, anger and irony.

But we can also say that the sentence “You know what?” has a PHATIC function since it´s a formula used to attract Bree´s attention or to confirm her continued attention.

elianaa, the analysis should focus on the linguistic signs, not on semantic/pragmatic interpretation. Anyways, your conclusions are just fine to me.
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