phatic function

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Roman Jakobson (1896—1982) Russian-born American linguist


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One of the six constitutive elements of verbal communication according to Russian linguist Roman Jakobson (the other functions are: referential, emotive, poetic, conative, and metalingual). The phatic function is the part of communication which keeps open the line of communication itself; it is the means by which two or more speakers reassure themselves that not only are they being listened to, but they are also being understood. It is in this sense a part of communication that is separate from the exchange of meaning; it is, as it were, without content of its own. Examples include such common phrases as ‘are you with me?’, ‘do you know what I mean?’ and so on.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies.

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