Emotive Function Of Language: Characteristics And Examples

The emotional function of language , also known as the expressive or symptomatic function, is the manifestation of the language that people use when they want to talk about their moods. That is, it is the ability of human beings to express their thoughts and emotions through words.

This happens, for example, when people mourn for having lost a loved one or when they decide to share their experiences with family or friends. The most important element of the emotional function is the sender (subject who transmits a message), since she is in charge of communicating her preferences, feelings, prejudices and desires.

It should be noted that, when recounting their feelings , people may resort to laughter, crying, hand movements or a shift of the gaze. These facts show that gestures and tone of voice are significant because they increase the effect of the messages.

For example, if a person says “how good I feel today” and smiles, then his attitude may be thought to be positive; But if you comment “how difficult life is” and look away, it is because you are showing some emotional distress. For this reason, it is affirmed that the emotional function is characterized by being subjective, since each sentence transmitted is personal.

However, it is convenient to mention that the emotional function of language goes beyond personal encounters. This is because people also use letters and social networks as a means of communication, where exclamatory sentences and interjections (short words) are the resources used to express disgust, sadness or happiness.

Characteristics of the emotional function

When language is used emotionally, it has the following elements or characteristics:

– Use augmentatives and diminutives in words

It is when the issuer modifies the meaning of words by adding suffixes to expand or minimize their meanings. Generally, people increase the value of words by surprise or admiration and decrease it in a derogatory sense, as will be seen with the following phrases:

– It was not just a game, but a Cleave azo ! In this sentence it is expressed that a sports match was very good, so much so that it should not be easily forgotten.

– That hombrec ito thinks he is right. In this case, the term little man may indicate that the person is not liked by others.

– Use exclamatory sentences

In written communication exclamation marks are used to convey the sender’s feelings. That is, these sentences represent the tone of voice that people use when they are emotional. For example:

– How I miss you!

– Congratulations!

– How nice to see you!

– Hopefully it goes well!

– I can not anymore!

– Use the interjections

These are the expressions that show the spontaneous reactions of the issuer, among them the following stand out: ay, oh, wow, uy, eh and ah:

Oh , what a headache I have.

Oops , that wound must hurt.

Wow , I still can’t believe it.

Ah , good.

Oh , it’s a wonderful detail.

Other important elements


Similarly, to express their emotions, human beings usually focus on the following elements of language:

– First person singular ( yo ) and its verbs

When the speaker uses the first person singular it is because he is talking about himself: he comments on his interests, passions and frustrations. In this case, the most used verbs are: I am, I go, I know, I feel, I see, I say, I went, I run, I walk, I am and I look. This is seen in the following examples:

– I ‘m not comfortable with this project.

I think nothing has gone well for me in the last few days.

– I see the future with optimism.

– I am satisfied with the result of the test.

I know everything will work out for me.

– The third person (he, she, they) and their verbs

The issuer not only uses the first person verbal, he also uses the third in both plural and singular. It should be mentioned that when a person uses the third person in their sentences, it is not only to refer to someone else, but they can point to the landscape, an animal or a specific topic.

For example: How wonderful is the night; now politics is a disaster; that woman has me crazy. The first two sentences show how –through the verbs is and is – the sender talks about aspects that do not include him directly ( nightlife and politics ), but about which he has a definite opinion.

Instead, the last sentence details how a person outside the issuer ( that woman ) moves him. This is observed by the pronoun ( she ) and the verb ( has ).

Examples of uses of the emotional function

In the following lines, two outstanding examples of the expressive function of language will be presented:

– Marriage application at a baseball game

In November 2019 – at the end of the match between the Stars and the Eagles, Mexican teams – a man knelt before his girlfriend to ask her to marry him. The fundamental thing about this event is that they used some sentences that are essential to explain how emotion is manifested through written and oral communication:

– The first was displayed on a banner that the young man carried, where it read: “I can’t imagine life without you, do you want to share your world with mine?” While his oral speech was: “How sad that the team lost, but what happiness to have you with me.” Both sentences show a particular interest: that the marriage request was successful.

– Another important reaction was that of the lady, who between laughter and tears replied: “Yes, because I can’t imagine life without you either.” Both his and hers phrases reveal joy and a precise desire: to be together.

In this way, it is observed that the emotional function of language is present in every moment of life, since people express their feelings and ideas on a daily basis, whether in public or private spaces.

– Caracas acclaims Fidel Castro!

This is the title of a newspaper article that was published in Caracas in 1959, the year in which Fidel Castro visited the city. This article is relevant because it brings together the opinions that Caracas people at the time had about the Cuban politician. It is worth noting that each testimony reflects a specific emotional function:

I wish I had never come, it only destroys the country more . Exhibits rejection.

He’s the president I need . Reveal respect.

– He is a worthy representative, I hope to be like that . Show admiration.

Your ideal is a deception, I can’t believe it . Shows mistrust.

His figure must be exalted, like that of all heroes . Express adoration.

Themes of interest

Language functions .

Metalinguistic function of language .

Aesthetic function of language .

Referential function of language .

Persuasive function of language .

Poetic function of language .

Types of language .


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