Language and context language as a semiotic system (mercedes, carla, alexandra)Document Transcript
Language and context Our ability to deduce context from text in our ability to predict what language will beappropriate in a specific context provided evidence of the language/context relationship. Forexample if you have to predict the structure, words and sentences you would find in a shortstory for little children, you would not have difficulty. The same happens if you have to writethe story: you know which vocabulary you should use for a specific topic in a story for littlechildren. The final evidence which shows the link between language and context is that wecannot tell how people are using language if we do not take into account the context of use.For example: with a sentence chosen at random from “the Happy Prince” being out of context,at least part of its meaning is lost or unavailable: “We must throw it away” • It is not possible to determine: -Who “we” refers to. What “it” refers to. -What the relationship between interacts is. -If it is an order or a suggestion. Now we know that in asking functional questions about language we must focus notjust on language, but on language use in context. To describe the impact of context on text, itis necessary to explore both what dimensions, and in what ways context influences language.Therefore, context is divided into two levels: Genre (Context of culture) Register (Context of situation)The broad sociocultural environment, which The specific situations within theincludes ideology, social conventions and sociocultural environment. Systemicinstitutions. Functional Language identifies three key dimensions of the situation as having significant and predictable impacts on language use. These three dimensions, the register variable of field (refers to what is to be talked or written about), tenor (is the relationship between the speaker and listener or the writer and reader) and mode (refers to the channel of communication. With the influence of both contexts we see how language not just represents butactively construct our view of the world. It enables us to make meanings with others and withthe world that make sense (not just words in isolation). Each text creates three meaningssimultaneously:
• Ideational metafunction: Divided into two: experimental and logical metafunction. The experimental metafunction organises our experience and understanding of the world. The logical metafunction works above the experiential. It organises our reasoning on the basis of our experience. The ideational metafunction relates to the field aspect of a text, or its subject matter and context of use. For example: This is the story of the Happy Prince , a beautiful statue made of precious stones and gold that was not really happy, because he could see how poor people in the city suffered. • Interpersonal metafunction: it relates to a text’s aspect of tenor or interactivity. Tenor comprises three component areas: the speaker/ writer person, social distance and relative social status. For Example: The relationship between two main characters, the Happy Prince and the Swallow is very close (they are good friends). The writer is trying to transmit a message (the differences between the poor and the rich people) and to teach us a lesson. (How important is to help people in need) • Textual metafunction: it relates to mode; the internal organization and communicative nature of a text. This comprises textual interactivity, spontaneity and communicative distance. For example: It is a semi-formal written short-story; there are some contracted forms and not very specific vocabulary. It uses direct speech and is narrated in 3rd person omniscient. Language accomplish this semantic complexity (making different meaningssimultaneously) because it functions as a semiotic system. To construct a semiotic system, we need to observe that a determined meaning(content) triggers a particular realization (expression) and the two together constitute a sign.For example: in the story “ the Happy Prince”, the statue of the prince is made of gold andprecious stones and people in the city relates that fortune with happiness. There is no naturallink between the content happiness and the expression fortune but the relationship isconstructed in a particular context i.e. semiotic system. In a semiotic system, signs are a fusion of a content (meaning) and an expression(realization of that meaning). Semiotic systems are established by social convention and thefusion between the two sides of the sign is arbitrary. Semiotic systems are arbitrary socialconventions by which it is conventionally agreed that a particular meaning will be realized by aparticular representation.Language as a semiotic system The most sophisticated and elaborated of all our semiotic systems is the system oflanguage. What gives language its privileged status is that other semiotic systems cangenerally be translated into language. Language is a more complex semiotic system because itinvolves sets of meaningful choices or oppositions. In language, we do not just have meaningrealized by words, for the words themselves are realized by sounds. This means that todescribe language we need three levels or strata. Linguistic systems are also systems for making meanings so it makes meanings byordering the world for us in two ways. Firstly, they order content by convention.
The system thus orders the conceptual word according to culturally establishedconventions about which dimensions of reality are meaningful. As we tend to see language asa natural, naming advice, it becomes very difficult for us to think about dimensions of realityother than those which are encoded for us in our linguistic systems. Reality is constructedthrough the oppositions encoded in the semiotic systems of a language we use. It follows fromthis relativistic interpretation that all language will order experience in the same way. The second way in which linguistic signs order the world for us is by orderingexpression. You will find that inventory of meaningful sounds will be different for each language.