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Shifts of pragmatic functions in discourse

Transfer of pragmatic functions occurs only alongside with the semantic shift of such language units. Thus, we speak of their functional re-orientation.

Generally, when referring to the functional orientation of any language unit, we mean its prototypical function preserved in various contexts. The functional orientation of a language unit is expressed in a set of contexts reflected in the dictionary data which tend to become orientation indicators of lexical and grammatical properties. Thus, we can claim that dictionaries of Standard English vocabulary represent information on customary, prototypical functions and discourse implementations.

However, transformations based on functional re-orientation are rather common in Present-day English with its distinct analytical inclination.

These transformations are triggered when a language unit performs a nonprototypical function. In these cases functional potencies, which are rather various due to specificity of the Present-day language system, are implemented. Overall, the above phenomena are related to language units significant for the conveying of the main idea of the utterance.

Since in any classification hard and fast lines cannot be drawn, it is more appropriate for any language unit to be characterized with respect to its functions. We point out three main aspects of the functioning of language units: semantic, syntactic and pragmatic (cf. Capone 2006). An analysis of a language system representation in discourse should concentrate upon revealing the existing core features of language units, and first of all-their functional characteristics. We do not classify the functions of language units subjectively; rather we reveal their qualities and interrelations for decoding the speaker’s/writer’s attitude either to the listener/reader or to the subject matter of the utterance.

 
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