CHAPTER 11- Speech Functions, Politeness and 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).

Politeness: it is the consideration of social factors (social distance in terms of solidarity or formality), social status, type of situation or context, intonation, etc when communicating with others.

* One may ask somebody to sit down by using different utterances:

Sit down / please sit down / I want you to sit down / won’t you sit down / you sit down / why don’t you make yourself more comfortable?

– Positive politeness: a type of politeness based on solidarity between speakers and hearers who share values and attitudes, and in which formal expressions in addressing are avoided.

– Negative politeness: a type of politeness based on formality between speakers and hearers in which formal expressions in addressing are used in order to protect hearers’ face and avoid intruding on them.

CHAPTER 12- Gender, Politeness and Stereotypes

 Women’s language and confidence

– Lakoff’s linguistic features of women’s speech:

1– Lexical hedges or fillers (you know, sort of, well, you see)

2– Tag questions (she’s very nice, isn’t she?)

3– Rising intonation on declaratives (it’s really good)

4– ‘Empty’ adjectives (divine, charming, cute)

5– Precise colour terms (magenta, aquamarine)

6– Intensifiers such as just and so (I like him so much)

7– ‘Hypercorrect’ grammar (consistent use of standard verb forms)

8– ‘Super-polite’ forms (indirect requests, euphemism)

9– Avoidance of strong swear words (fudge, my goodness)

10– Emphatic stress (it was a BRILLIANT performance)

 What are tag questions for Lakoff and what are their functions?

According to Lakoff, Tag questions are syntactic devices that are used more by men to express uncertainty (she’s very nice, isn’t she) and they are used more by women to express positive politeness (you will study for the exam, won’t you?).


 Who interrupts more, men or women? Why?

Studies showed that men, and even boys interrupt more, due to women’s gender rather than to their role or occupation.

 who gives more feedback during conversation, men or women?

Studies show that women are more cooperative and give more feedback.

 What is gossip? What functions does gossip have for women? What is men’s equivalent activity to women’s gossip?

Gossip is a social not a referential function to affirm solidarity, and relieve feelings. The equivalent activity for gossip to men is mock-insults and abuse, with the function of expressing solidarity & maintaining social relationships.

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