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Transformations of pragmatic functions in English discourse

In discourse the accentuating function can be acquired by quite a number of words (pigs, bill (for the police); John (for lavatory); bread, brass (for money); nick (for prison); snow (for heroin); AC/DC (bisexual)); there is also a possibility for certain words to perform reacting (boy>boy!; fiddlesticks>Fiddlesticks!; my foot>My foot!) and qualifying functions (It’s good>It ’s a good deal better). There are also cases of multifunctionality embracing the whole scope of pragmatic functions performed by language units, for instance: He is now in hell (stating)>Where the hell you are? (accentuating)>Hell! (reacting)>a hell of a lot, as hell (qualifying).

Such shifts are rooted in the whole process of communication which is inseparably connected with the language system and structure. While communicating a person chooses language data to regulate the formation of discourse, thus confirming its obligatory character and increasing the value of communicative activity. The introduction of aspects revealing the conceptualization of the world via language into discourse allows the speaker/writer to add subjective character to the information transfer. Communication provides data to the language, enriching it by means of functional re-orientation. Both pragmatic aspects of language and communication are singled out. The only difference lies in the fact that if in the language system they are preserved in a latent state, in communication they are activated.

From the pragmatic viewpoint, the intensification of separate components of discourse, or their accentuation, is performed on the “layers” of subjective evaluation and emotive modalities. It highlights the importance of the subjective component of a human communication activity allowing the speaker/writer to adequately express feelings and attitudes, and the listener/reader to acquire complete information containing subjective and emotional shades. Sometimes the degree of subjectivity of the information transferred can be so high that it may turn the utterance into a false one (Sullivan 1994).

The communication status of pragmatic data is expressed either by means of human emotions, or inferred from background knowledge. The appeal to the communication status of the pragmatic component explains the overall functional specificity of language units with pragmatic colouring (Brazil 1995). Thus, while functioning in discourse, language units reveal their pragmatic functions alongside with their connotations, associations and lexical background. Besides, a wide range of particles, separate morphological and lexical elements, as well as syntactic structures gain a distinct pragmatic orientation (focusing), i.e. a strong emotional and evaluation charge.

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