Janet holmes theory of 8 speech function in sociolinguistics

Functions of Speech

1- Referential function: to convey information and this is done through different forms of speech, such as declarative or interrogative statements.

– Declarative statements (After this semester, I’m going to visit London)
– Interrogative statements using Wh-questions (what is your name?)
– Interrogative statements using yes/no questions (do like London?)
– Alternative questions with answer choices (do like tea or coffee?)

2- Directive function: giving orders or making requests by using imperative statements. An imperative statements may express a strict demand such as saying (open the door) or it can seem less demanding by using the politeness strategy such as saying (open the door, please) or through using question tags in the case of informality between mother and son (Max the TV is still on!)

3- Expressive function: to express personal feelings, thoughts, ideas and opinions, with different choice words, intonation, etc. These expressions are submissive to social factors and to the nature of the expression as negative (I’m very gloomy tonight) or positive (I’m feeling very good today).

4- Phatic or Social function: it is one of the most common speech acts in everyday interactions; it consists of greetings, complements, gossip, etc. for greeting a friend, a speaker can say (hi/hello). As for greeting a stranger, the speaker can use (hello), but the more formal greetings between strangers are (good morning/afternoon/evening).

5- Metalinguistic Function: it is used to describe parts of language such as grammar, or words that describe language itself (I is a personal pronoun)

6- Poetic Function: using poetic features such as rhyming words, alliteration or paronomasia and antithesis (An apple a day keeps the doctor a way).

7- Heuristic Function: Halliday identified this function of language which concerned with learning, the main concentration of researching this function of speech is to identify the spoken language of learning children.

8- Commissives: it involves using threats and promises (I will clean my room, I promise).

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