Expressive Function

Expressive Function


one of the functions of a linguistic sign, consisting in the ability to express the speaker’s emotional state and his subjective attitude toward designated objects and phenomena of reality.

Expression can be conveyed through the use of various linguistic elements. Among such elements are interjections, such as akhl (“ah!” conveying surprise, delight, or fright) and okh! (“oh!” conveying dismay, sadness, or pain), and their derivatives akhat’ (“to say ‘ah!’”; “to gasp”), okhat’ (“to say ‘oh!’ “; “to moan”), akhan’e (“gasping”), and okhan’e (“moaning”). Certain grammatical forms can also be used, such as the hypocoristic suffixes -en’k and -ik, as in svezhen’kii ogurchik (“a fresh cucumber”).

Another means of communicating expression is the use of the imperative and subjunctive moods of verbs. The imperative Ukhodi! (“Go away!”) can be more forcefully expressed through the use of the subjunctive Ukhodil by!; the expression can be rendered still stronger through the addition of an emphatic particle: Da ukhodi zhe! Expression can also be achieved through the use of certain expressive words of elevated or low style, such as the literary variants ochi (“eyes”) and vkushat’ (“to eat”) of the neutral equivalents glaza and est’, respectively. Intonation can also serve as a means of conveying expression. In linguistics, the study of expressive function is part of stylistics.


Galkina-Fedoruk, E. M. “Ob ekspressivnosti i emotsional’nosti v iazyke.” In the collection Sbornik statei po iazykoznaniiu: Professoru Moskovskogo universiteta akademiku V. V. Vinogradovu [v den’ ego 60-letiia]. Moscow, 1958.
Bally, C. Frantsuzskaia stilistika. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from French.)
Vinokur, T. G. “O soderzhanii nekotorykh stilisticheskikh poniatii.” In the collection Stilislicheskie issledovaniia: Na materiale sovremennogo russkogo iazyka. Moscow, 1972.
Bühler, K. Sprachtheorie. Jena, 1934.


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