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T3 Communication Process, Functions of language.

Negotation of meaning

The topic I chose is number 3 whose title is Communication process, functions of language and
negotiation of meaning. This is a key aspect to consider when teaching a foreign language as
we, as teachers, and our students need to understand how a language serves to express
messages, meaning, etc. when we communicate. As a matter of fact, new regulations on
Spanish Education take these aspects into consideration. It is with the new Organic Law
LOMCE, Ley Organica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educativa 8/2013 on December 9th that a
communicative approach is proposed to teach foreign languages, English in our case. In that
sense, we will see how the communicative process works in terms of its relation to langague,
the different functions abscribed to language, which elements when communicating in English
take place and how different perspectives through the last few decades have helped us to
understand this complex process.

This topic thus is divided into the before-mentioned introduction and justification, a central
part consisting of an explanation of the communicative process, language in use and the
negotiation of meaning. Finally, a brief conclusion and bibliography will be included.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, communication can be defined as an exchange of

messages and meaning between individuals. Humans have the capacity to do so by virtue of
language, which is a interactive system of symbols, a code made up of conventions that allow
to transmit meaning orally and in written. Throughout history, different authors have tried to
explain these processes. Therefore, we need to state some of the most relevant ones that have
contributed to our knowledge of how communication works.

In the 40s, Shannon and Weaver introduced a theory of communication that would be a start
for subsequent linguists. It included a variety of concepts and elements taking part in
communication act (sender, an encoder, a channel, a decoder a receiver o even noise) For
example a man that through a telephone sends a message to another, which can be affected
by dial problems.

However, this model of communication presented some shortcomings. It was linear in the
sense that it did not include any feedback between the individuals participating and then there
was no change of roles. Later, another linguist Jakobson proposed a new model in the attempt
to correct these lacks. What is interesting about his model is not only this, but also how he
achieved to identify the different elements of the communication process and the
correspondence of those with different communicative functions. According to him,
communication consisted of an addressee sending a message to addresser through a channel
using a code in a specific context. As you see, there are 6 elements that more or less
correspond to different functions. Firstly, the expressive function referring to the addressee, in
which it is highlighted the emotions inner states and feelings of this one, ex: Ouch, this hurts.
Secondly, the conative one which is centred in the addressee and seeks an influence on him
ex: Come here! Thirdly, the phatic function which is serves as a way to ensure that the channel
is working: are you still there? Then, the expressive one which focuses on the form of message
and it is characteristic in poetic language, advertising: Heanz means Beanz. Additionally, the
metalingual which focuses on the code, the language itself as in Present Simple takes and S in
the third singular person in affirmative sentences. Finally, we found the referential which
makes reference to the context that surround us. It is raining.

Other authors and further additions completed Jakobson’s work, although his model is
considered as the main explanation of how communication process works. We can also find
authors like Dell Hymes who added other functions like those of metacommunicative and
contextual for more specific events and its contexts (Let’s start the lecture)

Halliday is another author worth mentioning as he gave an account of different functions

abscrbed to langague, especially in the acquisition of language in children ( heuristic,
imaginative, instrumental, personal, interactional, respresntational and regulatory) that are
finally combined into 3 main ones, once a proficient use of langage takes place. Those are:
intrapersonal (deals with our ow thoughts), interpersonal (communicates with others) and
textual (creates discourse).

Moreover, when we talk about communication, we need to establish how human beings use
language, English in this specific essay, as each sentence serves a specific function that we
have already stated (warn, inform, order and so on). The Speech Act Theory tackles all this.
Austin tried to give an explanation of how language is used in acts performed by ustterances –
(1962 in his work how to do things with words) If we take the sentence, the capitain named his
ship the Saint Mary, we can deduce two things: the obvious information about the ship’s name
and also the intention of the capitan to give it this specific name. Therefore, acc to Austin, the
meaning of utterances express different sides when we perform them. We can find the
locutionary force which is the literal meaning, the illocutionary force (the intentions of the
addressee) and even a perlocutionary force that refers to the addressee interpretation.

Acc to Seare, a further classification of the illocutionary force can be done in order to better
understand our intentions in communication. The types are the following ones:

Directives (influence listener)

Comissives (comittments made by the speaker)

Declaratives (alter states)

Representatives (statement, express a belief)

Expressives (exp psychological states, like thank o apologise)

Of course this intentions can be expressed in a direct/indirect way. It is cold/ Close the
window. Sometimes we need to fulful what it is called as felicity conditions, especially when
expressing declarative intentions, since to alter a state we need to have authority to do so, for
example wedding: I pronounce you man and wife.

Finally, regarding the way in which we use langague, we cannot forget mentioning the belief
that language can be organised in 4 dimensions or layers that helps us to decide what to say
and that affects listeners’interpretations. Bipersonal (communication act in which 2 people are
involved) Audcience (more than 2 individuals, more listeners can be participating and then we
will decide how to utter, ex: eavesdropper table restaurant) Layered: different dimensions and
layers one upon another ex: reported speech: we state a communication act which is inside
our own comm act, theatre: one communication act in the work and the comm act with
people attending the theatre performance) Temporal dimension: every human action takes
place in time, so we may decide which time is convenient to interact.

The whole dimensions are normally taken into consideration when we communicate.

In addition to how comm process is achieved, the different functions, and how we use lg to
achieve them, there are also some aspects and principles related to the negotiation of
meaning, that is what we take into consideration to make understand our communicate
intentions correctly when interacting with someone else.

The knowledge our our listener, for example, will affect the way we express a certain
utterance and its meaning. There are diff ways to refer to something depending on the
listener’s previous knowledge of it. If I say Pilar is 66, you would probably say, who is Pilar? It
would be more suitable to say My mother is 66, as you do not know her name.

Another vital aspect is the cooperative principle. This consists of 4 maxims that need to be
fulfilled to achieve a correct communicative act. Quantity: the info given must be enough to be
understood, not less or more than necessary as it will affect the addressee’s understanding,
Quality: we have to give true info in order to not mislead our communication. Relevance: it has
to be related to the topic and Manner: we need to use language accurately, not using pointless
or redundant structures.

The social context will also affect the way we express meaning. It goes without saying that diff
context will require diff registers of lg (example waiter). Apart from so, the linguistic devices
available also will influence the way we convey meaning. A language learner can lack a specific
bit of vocab or structure and will have to express something using a language circumlocution.

Finally, as you can see, the communication process is more than just an outstanding use of
language. When learning English, our students have to pay attention to the
way we use this language, as this tool interacts with endless factors that
occur in communicative acts. Throughout this essay I have tried to state
some of the most relevant aspects working in communication: its
elements,its functions and how we express meaning and intentions to carry
them out, etc.
Additionaly, it is important to consider other ideas and theories that deal
with the use of language: contexts, other people’s knowledge, etc.
Nothing characterizes humanity more than the ability to use language to
interact with others and therefore learning English is beyond studying its
linguistic formal aspects. It is essential to think about the whole process to be
The main bibliography I used:

Austin How to do things with words

Searle What is Speech act?
Baker In other words