Plato’s Cave


“Most people are not just comfortable in their ignorance, but hostile to anyone who points it out.”

-Plato, Republic

Roman Jakobson’s Functions of Language


The six factors of communication

The Referential Function 
corresponds to the factor of Context and describes a situation, object or mental state. The descriptive statements of the referential function can consist of both definite descriptions and deictic words, e.g. “The autumn leaves have all fallen now.”

The Expressive (alternatively called “emotive” or “affective”) Function 
relates to the Addresser (sender) and is best exemplified by interjections and other sound changes that do not alter the denotative meaning of an utterance but do add information about the Addresser’s (speaker’s) internal state, e.g. “Wow, what a view!”

The Conative Function 
engages the Addressee (receiver) directly and is best illustrated by vocatives and imperatives, e.g. “Tom! Come inside and eat!”

The Poetic Function 
focuses on “the message for its own sake”[3] (the code itself, and how it is used) and is the operative function in poetry as well as slogans.

The Phatic Function 
is language for the sake of interaction and is therefore associated with the Contact/Channel factor. The Phatic Function can be observed in greetings and casual discussions of the weather, particularly with strangers. It also provides the keys to open, maintain, verify or close the communication channel: “Hello?”, “Ok?”, “Hummm”, “Bye”…

The Metalingual (alternatively called “metalinguistic” or “reflexive”) Function 
is the use of language (what Jakobson calls “Code”) to discuss or describe itself. (All this article is an example of metalinguistic Function).

Бродский – полторы комнаты

«В юные годы каждый стремится вырваться из дома, из своего гнезда. Но однажды человек обнаруживает, что гнездо исчезло, а те, кто дал ему жизнь, умерли. И он вдруг осознаёт, что если некогда и существовало что-либо настоящее в его жизни, то это именно гнездо, откуда ему так нестерпимо хотелось сбежать.»


Mayakovsky on writing

“Formerly I believed books were made like this: a poet came, lightly opened his lips, and the inspired fool burst into song – if you please! But it seems, before they can launch a song, poets must tramp for days with callused feet, and the sluggish fish of the imagination flounders softly in the slush of the heart. And while, with twittering rhymes, they boil a broth of loves and nightingales, the tongueless street merely writhes for lack of something to shout or say.”

-About That (1923)

Vladimir Mayakovsky