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Glossary of Literary Theory
by Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown

Emotive language:

One-half of I. A. Richards's dichotomous view of linguistic functions. Richards makes a qualitative distinction between scientific or referential discourse, which corresponds to external reality, and poetic or emotive discourse, which is internally coherent and organizes the unruly realm of impulses and attitudes for therapeutic purposes. Richards further develops the distinction by using the term "pseudo-statement" to define an utterance in which the emotive function is dominant and the term "statement" to define an utterance in which the referential function is dominant. According to him, "A pseudo-statement is justified entirely by its effect in releasing or organizing our impulses and attitudes . . . . A statement, on the other hand, is justified by its truth, that is its correspondence, in a highly technical sense, with the fact to which it points."

© Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown,
University of Toronto
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University of Toronto English Library
Director: Ian Lancashire.
Last modified: March 31, 1997