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Glossary of Literary Theory
Of or relating to Roman Jakobson's model of the process of communication
According to Jakobson, "the Addresser sends a message to the Addressee.
To be operative the message requires a Context referred to ("referent"
in another, somewhat ambiguous nomenclature), seizable by the Addressee,
and either verbal or capable of being verbalized; a Code fully, or at least
partially, common to the Addresser and Addressee (or in other words, to
the encoder and decoder of the message); and, finally, a Contact, a physical
connection between the Addresser and Addressee, enabling both of them to
enter and stay in communication." If communication is oriented toward
context, then the referential function dominates ("Ottawa is the capital
of Canada"); if it is oriented toward the Addresser of the message,
then the emotive function dominates ("I fall upon the thorns of life!
I bleed!"); if it is oriented toward the Addressee of the message,
then the conative function dominates ("Watch Out for that falling
brick!"); if it is oriented toward Contact, the establishment of a
rapport between Addresser and Addressee so that the lines of communication
are kept open, then the phatic function dominates ("What terrible
weather we've been having"); if it is oriented toward code, then the
metalingual function dominates ("Understand what I mean?"); and,
last, if it is oriented toward the message for its own sake, then the poetic
function dominates ("The force that through the green fuse drives
the flower / Drives my green age"). The important implication of Jakobson's
theory is that meaning does not reside in the message per se; it is part
of the total act of communication, not a stable entity which passes, uncontaminated,
from Addresser to Addressee.
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