Expressive Function Of Language: What It Is, Characteristics And Examples

emotive function of language

The functions of language are the various ways that human beings have to communicate verbally, transmitting messages depending on the different intentionality of the sender.

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

Next we are going to delve deeper into this expressive function in addition to seeing its linguistic features and we will give some examples to understand it a little better.

The expressive function of language refers to its role in conveying the thoughts, feelings, emotions, attitudes, and personality of the speaker or writer. It enables individuals to express their innermost thoughts and experiences, communicate their identity and worldview, and connect with others on an emotional level. Here, we explore the expressive function of language in more detail and its significance in interpersonal communication and self-expression.

Understanding the Expressive Function of Language

1. Emotional Expression

  • Language allows individuals to express a wide range of emotions, from joy and excitement to sadness, anger, and fear. Through words, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues, people can convey their emotional state and share their innermost feelings with others.

2. Personal Identity

  • Language plays a crucial role in shaping personal identity and self-concept. The words we choose, the language we use, and the stories we tell about ourselves contribute to our sense of self and how we are perceived by others.

3. Cultural Beliefs and Values

  • Language reflects cultural beliefs, values, and norms, providing a window into the worldview and collective identity of a community or society. The way people express themselves linguistically often reflects their cultural upbringing, social background, and shared experiences.

4. Social Relationships

  • Language serves as a tool for building and maintaining social relationships. Through verbal communication, individuals can establish rapport, express empathy, and strengthen interpersonal bonds with others.

5. Artistic Expression

  • Language is a medium for artistic expression, allowing writers, poets, and artists to create works of literature, poetry, and music that evoke emotion, stimulate imagination, and provoke thought.
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Significance of the Expressive Function in Communication

1. Enhances Understanding

  • Expressive language enables individuals to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand, fostering empathy, connection, and mutual understanding.

2. Promotes Self-Expression

  • The expressive function of language provides individuals with a means of self-expression and self-actualization, allowing them to articulate their innermost thoughts, desires, and aspirations.

3. Strengthens Relationships

  • By expressing themselves authentically and transparently, individuals can build trust, intimacy, and emotional intimacy in their relationships, fostering deeper connections and bonds with others.

4. Facilitates Healing and Growth

  • Expressive language can serve as a therapeutic tool for processing emotions, resolving conflicts, and promoting healing and growth. Through storytelling, journaling, or creative writing, individuals can explore and make sense of their experiences, leading to greater self-awareness and resilience.

5. Empowers Advocacy and Social Change

  • Language is a powerful tool for advocacy and social change, enabling individuals to raise awareness, challenge injustice, and promote positive social transformation. Through persuasive language and storytelling, individuals can mobilize others to take action and effect meaningful change in their communities and beyond.

The expressive function of language

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

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

This type of function is one of the most used and aims to show the speaker’s intention when transmitting certain information. This function is based on the subjectivity of the sender, so the person who transmits the message plays the most important role in communication, since it is that person who expresses his or her feelings to the receiver.

In addition to transmitting information, The speaker simultaneously expresses his attitude towards what he says and can also reveal his personality traits

Linguistic aspects

The expressive or emotive function of language usually makes use of specific verbal forms. Since this almost always refers to the sender of the message, The usual thing is that they are formulated by conjugating the verbs in the first person

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You seem like the most beautiful person in the world to me.

However, messages with an expressive function can also be issued using impersonal formulas, such as the following example:

How beautiful the sea is!

In this case, the expressive function is used, since the sender is transmitting a message loaded with an emotional component, although he does so through an impersonal way. In other words, The sender’s feelings are being shown but in the sentence he emits he does not use first-person verbal forms

Another characteristic of the expressive function of language is that it usually uses the subjunctive mood, exclamatory sentences, interjections or onomatopoeia with the aim of highlighting the feelings of the sender. Desires, preferences and sensations are also expressed subjectively.

I wish Susana loved me!

Ouch how painful!

It is also worth saying that the expressive function of language can be highlighted through 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 in which the speaker utters it, using non-verbal language that reinforces the verbal expressions themselves.

Expressive functions of language

The expressive function and the media

During the first stages of life, human beings only have non-verbal language to express their moods Babies, even if they do not know how to speak, manage in one way or another to convey what they want to convey (hunger, pain, joy) through their gestures, their crying, voice inflections and body contacts. In fact, it could be said that children only have affective language to transmit their moods.

However, as we grow and master verbal language, we acquire the ability to use the other functions of language. The gestures of the adult human may be intentional and have more than one interpretation, but the direct message is expressed using words although reinforcing it with non-verbal language, as we have commented before.

This is something we can see relatively easily with the media These platforms transmit opinion messages on some issue of interest to a community, hoping that public opinion takes a certain position regarding reality and, to the extent possible, modifies its behavior in the direction desired by the medium. Thus, its message has a subjective component in which it uses sentimental expressions to awaken emotions in the audience. Thus, we not only talk about the expressive function of language, but also the appellative function.

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Opinion messages can take different forms, all of them resorting to the expressive or emotive function of language to a greater or lesser extent.

1. Interview

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

2. Collaborations

In the collaborations, a prestigious person expresses his opinion, usually periodically, on current issues of the day or week. Sometimes their opinion deals with very specific and specialized areas, in which case it is called specialized criticism.

3. Debates and colloquia

In debates and colloquiums, different people They talk about a topic that raises passions and for which they usually do not agree Due to this, it is practically inevitable that they resort to the expressive function of language, exposing the emotions that the topic to be discussed awakens in them and what they think of the opinions of others.

4. Editorial

The editorial section is texts that express the opinion of a medium, generally a newspaper, on a specific issue Although the objective of newspapers is to transmit information in the most objective way possible, it is inevitable that their director and editors have certain opinions regarding what is happening in the world, with the editorial space being the place reserved for making public such opinions.

Examples of sentences with expressive function

Now that we have seen what the expressive function of language is and what its linguistic characteristics are, Let’s look at a few sentences as an example to finish understanding it:

  • My back hurts a lot!
  • I’m tired of all this nonsense!
  • I love being with you in class.
  • I’m frustrated waiting for your call. It’s been a week now!
  • I’m so glad they gave you that job!
  • Of all the islands, Menorca is my favorite.
  • How you’ve grown!
  • I’m very angry with you. Not only have you disrespected me, but you have also not apologized to me.
  • Very sorry. I have made a mistake. It will not happen again.
  • You are the most handsome model ever!
  • What a joy to see you again!
  • Finally it’s Friday!
  • I’m already fed up!
  • I’m afraid of what could happen.
  • How bad it smells!
  • I love you.
  • It hurts me!
  • I admire Albert Einstein so much…
  • I hate you so much that I am not able to express it in words.
  • What have I done to deserve this?
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The expressive function of language is a fundamental aspect of human communication and self-expression, allowing individuals to convey their thoughts, feelings, identity, and cultural worldview to others. By embracing the expressive power of language and using it mindfully and intentionally, individuals can enhance their interpersonal relationships, promote understanding and empathy, and create meaningful connections with others.