Recognising that some communications are more about social function than conveying a specific informative message.
“There can be no doubt that we have here a new type of linguistic use-phatic communion I am tempted to call it, actuated by the demon of terminological invention-a type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange of words. Let us look at it from the special point of view with which we are here concerned; let us ask what light it throws on the function or nature of language.
“Are words in Phatic Communion used primarily to convey meaning, the meaning which is symbolically theirs? Certainly not! They fulfil a social function and that is their principal aim, but they are neither the result of intellectual reflection, nor do they necessarily arouse reflection in the listener. Once again we may say that language does not function here as a means of transmission of thought.”
Bronisław Malinowski, anthropologist.
From his 1923 "The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages" essay, in The Meaning of Meaning book by C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards.
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