Title

Pragmatic Development
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Pragmatic Development - What do words do?

Language functions

Michael Halliday’s ‘Learning how to mean’ proposed seven main ‘functions’ that spurred a child to want to use language.

FUNCTION

WHAT IT IS

WHAT IT’S USED FOR

 

INSTRUMENTAL

Language used to fulfil a speaker’s need

Directly concerned with obtaining food, drink comfort etc . eg ‘I want’

 

REGULATORY

Used to influence the behaviour of others

Persuading / commanding / requesting other people do as you want ‘daddy push’ (child on swing)

 

INTERACTIONAL

Used to develop social relationships and ease interaction

The Phatic dimension of talk eg ‘hello’

 

 

PERSONAL

 

Used to express personal preferences / the speaker’s identity

Sometimes referred to the ‘here I am!’ function – conveys attitudes, expresses feelings

INFORMATIVE

Used to communicate information

Relaying or requesting information eg ‘I got a new doll

 

HEURISTIC

Used to learn and explore the environment

Using language to learn – this may be questions or answers or the kind of running commentary that accompanies child’s play

 

IMAGINATIVE

used to explore the imagination

May also accompany play as children create imaginary worlds / may arise from story telling. Also jokes, songs etc

This can be a complex system which is difficult to apply to data, therefore, John Dore’s ‘Infant Language Functions’ is a lot simpler to learn.

FUNCTION

EXAMPLE

LABELLING

Naming or identifying a person, object or experience

REPEATING

Echoing something spoken by an adult speaker

ANSWERING

Giving a direct response to an utterance from another speaker

REQUESTING ACTION

Demanding food, drink, toy, assistance etc

CALLING

Attracting attention by shouting

GREETING

Pretty self explanatory

PROTESTING

Objecting to requests etc

PRACTISING

Using and repeating language when no adult is present

 

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