Three basic functions of language: Informative, Expressive, and Directive Language

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We have a brief post today to look at the different types of language use, and for the purposes of these musings, that includes informative, expressive (therefore receptive), and directive. I think it’s always important to define terminology and try to understand what that means to the broader reading and writing public (and to you as a writer), so let’s do this!

Informative language

Simply put, informative language can be looked at as though it is either right or wrong, or true or false. Some have written that informative language is both “believable and valuable” language.

Here’s an example:

“ … language is used to offer opinions, give advice, make announcements, lecture, admonish, report news, solicit input, or ask questions. Everyday conversations center around information sharing.”

So, if we are stating something then we are giving some kind of “information” and, as such, it becomes “informative.”

Expressive language

Expressive language helps us communicate a mood or a feeling. Typically, it shows a communicator, reader, or writer if somebody is happy or sad, glad or mad.

“Expressive language may or may not include any real information because the purpose of expressive language is to convey emotion … the expression ‘Yuck’ connotes disgust, but the word itself isn’t necessarily used to inform.”

With that being said, expressive language is useful in a general and in a colloquial sense in literature because it can be written as an onomatopoeia, which certainly has a great deal of power, as it can describe the sounds we hear and the noises of every day life. BOOM! BLAM! KAPOW!

Conversely, receptive language, is your ability to comprehend these emotions. You are receiving information and therefore receptive to the information given to you.

Directive language

This one gets a little more complex, but it essentially is a way to get a response from somebody that you are communicating with in a typical conversation. Some would say that directive language is typically used to give a command of some sort to somebody.

“Directive language is not normally considered true or false (although various logics of commands have been developed).”

Examples of this type of language include “Shut off the light,” or “You are standing where it says ‘No Loitering.’” This last one hints at a command because it is essentially saying, “Get away from there.”

And that about sums up the three basic functions of language, which have practical application in logic, communication…and writing!

Works Cited