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Functions of Language

image of Functions of Language
ISSN 0929-998X
E-ISSN 1569-9765

<p><em>Functions of Language</em> is an international journal of linguistics which explores the functionalist perspective on the organisation and use of natural language. It publishes articles and reviews books from the full spectrum of functionalist linguistics, seeking to bring out the fundamental unity behind the various schools of thought, while stimulating discussion among functionalists. It encourages the interplay of theory and description, and provides space for the detailed analysis, qualitative or quantitative, of linguistic data from a broad range of languages. Its scope is broad, covering such matters as prosodic phenomena in phonology, the clause in its communicative context, and regularities of pragmatics, conversation and discourse, as well as the interaction between the various levels of analysis. The overall purpose is to contribute to our understanding of how the use of languages in speech and writing has impacted, and continues to impact, upon the structure of those languages.</p><p><em>Functions of Language</em> promotes the constructive interaction between linguistics and such neighbouring disciplines as sociology, cultural studies, psychology, ethology, communication studies, translation theory and educational linguistics.</p>

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  • Collocations and semantic profiles: On the cause of the trouble with quantitative studies
    • Author: Michael Stubbs
    • Source: Functions of Language, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1995, pages: 23 –55
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    • Current work on lexical collocations uses two ideas: (i) words have distinctive semantic profiles or "prosodies"; and (ii) the strength of association between words can be measured in quantitative terms. These ideas can be combined to provide comparative semantic profiles of words, which show the frequent and characteristic collocates of node words, and make explicit the semantic relations between the collocates.Using data from corpora of up to 120 million words, it is shown that the lemma CAUSE occurs in predominantly "unpleasant" collocations, such as cause of the trouble and cause of death. A case study of this lemma is used to illustrate quantitative methods for investigating collocations. Various methods proposed in the literature are of great practical value in establishing collocational sets, but their theoretical basis is less clear. Brief comparative semantic profiles are given for related lemmas, e.g. REASON and CONSEQUENCE. Implications for the relation between system and use are discussed.
  • Resources for attitudinal meaning: Evaluative orientations in text semantics
    • Author: Jay L. Lemke
    • Source: Functions of Language, Volume 5, Issue 1, 1998, pages: 33 –56
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    • Lexicogrammatical resources enable us to construct attitudinal stances not only toward interlocutors and audiences but also toward the ideational content of propositions and proposals. Seven semantic dimensions of evaluative orientations to propositions are identified and compared to those for clause modality. A sample corpus of newspaper editorials is used to illustrate the resources which realize these evaluative meanings in connected running text. Examples are also given of several interesting text-semantic phenomena that arise from the prosodic realization of attitudinal-orientational meanings in connected text, including attitudinal cohesion and syntactic, projective, and extended prospective and retrospective propagation of evaluative meanings. It is proposed that evaluative meanings should play a significant role in discourse analysis of social heteroglossia and individual and collective identity.
  • Varieties of rudeness: Types and functions of impolite utterances
    • Author: Manfred Kienpointner
    • Source: Functions of Language, Volume 4, Issue 2, 1997, pages: 251 –287
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    • Standard theories of politeness (Lakoff 1975, Leech 1983, Brown and Levinson 1987) face a number of problems. To mention but a few, it can be doubted that these theories have managed to establish truly universal concepts and classifications of (im)polite behavior; they exaggerate the relative importance of indirectness; they do not treat situational and societal constraints sufficiently; finally, they do not deal with rudeness in enough detail.Therefore, it does not seem to be possible to describe rudeness simply as a deviation from or violation of rules and maxims of cooperative/polite communication. Starting from suggestions made by Kasper (1990) and Culpeper (1996), I will try to refine standard definitions of politeness and rudeness. Moreover, examples of rude utterances (mostly taken from spoken and written English and German dialogues) will be used to establish a typology of communicative rudeness. Several subtypes of cooperative (e.g. ritual insults, reactive rudeness, sociable rudeness) and non-cooperative (e.g. strategic rudeness in public institutions) rudeness are distinguished.
  • Evidentiality and epistemic modality: On the close relationship between two different categories
    • Author: Bert Cornillie
    • Source: Functions of Language, Volume 16, Issue 1, 2009, pages: 44 –62
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    • This paper attempts to explain the terminological and conceptual confusion of evidentiality and epistemic modality. It presents a functionally oriented semantic analysis which does not belong to a specific theoretical framework. It shows that the alleged epistemic speaker commitment of evidential expressions does not come from the specific evidential value or mode of information, but rather boils down to the speaker’s and hearer’s interpretation of the source of information. A source of information can be attributed different degrees of reliability, but these should not automatically be translated into degrees of epistemic speaker commitment. The latter involves an evaluation of the likelihood, which is quite different from the evaluation of the reliability of the source of information. Thus, the account presented here challenges previous analyses in which the labels “epistemic” and “evidential” are applied to linguistic expressions either in too broad a way or in too exclusive a way. The analysis also contrasts with accounts based on the “inclusion” or the “overlap” of the two categories. Finally, the paper also discusses Nuyts’ (2004) claim that a clause can only have one qualification at a time.
  • Diachronic construction grammar and grammaticalization theory
    • Author: Dirk Noël
    • Source: Functions of Language, Volume 14, Issue 2, 2007, pages: 177 –202
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    • Grammaticalization theorists are becoming increasingly aware of the relevance of constructions to their discipline, to the point that one of its leading exponents has recently defined grammaticalization as the creation of new constructions. This is precisely the problem which construction grammarians engaging in diachronic research are addressing — or one they should be addressing, because to date diachronic construction grammar has not really taken off as a discipline. The question arises of whether grammaticalization theory could simply be turned into the historical branch of construction grammar, or whether diachronic construction grammar has its own raison d’être as a separate discipline. Since grammaticalization theoretical practice is fairly narrowly focused on the change of extant constructions along a path towards the grammatical end of the meaning continuum, there is a need for a wider discipline that also concerns itself with the primary emergence of constructions. Though grammaticalization presupposes ‘constructionalization’, the two developments need to be kept apart because not all constructions go on to grammaticalize.
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