The Functions of Language
The schematic representation of the communicative process set up in Chap. II implied a considerable simplification on one important point, which we shall have to discuss further in this chapter. It concerns the relations between sender and receiver on the one hand, and the so-called extra-linguistic phenomena to be communicated on the other. It is a popular and simplified idea of a linguistic situation that this implies just a transfer of information about something (a thing, an event, a “fact”) from a sender to a receiver. A says this about that (C) to B, or B is informed about C by A. This conception of linguistic communication is not only a simplification. It may be misleading, since it is far from certain that this simplified process, on all levels of human language — synchronic and diachronic —, expresses the primary, dominating, or most general function of human language at the different stages of its development, and since, under such conditions, the scientific approach to the analysis of linguistic communication may in some respects be incorrectly biased.
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