Skip to content
Journal article

The functions of silence

Ephratt M ...see all

Journal of Pragmatics, vol. 40, issue 11 (2008) pp. 1909-1938

  • 115

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • Citations

    Citations of this article.
  • Views

    ScienceDirect users who have downloaded this article.
Sign in to save reference

Abstract

The roles of eloquent silence in each of the six functions of language in Roman Jakobson's communicative model (1960) are considered. First, pause, being outside language, is differentiated from (eloquent) silence, a means chosen by the speaker for significant verbal communication alongside speech; it is not the listener's silence nor the silencing of the speaker. Linguistic and non-linguistic contributions to the study of eloquent silence are then briefly reviewed. Next, the roles of eloquent silence in Jakobson's model are analyzed. (Eloquent) silence, as a linguistic sign, conveys information in the referential function (zero-sign and passive constructions); it is an iconic affective way of expressing emotions (e.g., emptiness, intimacy) in the emotive function. In respect of the conative function, (eloquent) silence performs direct and indirect speech acts. Caesura, metaphors and ellipses are just a few examples of poetic silence. Silence is a means of maintaining contact and alliance in the phatic function. The various roles of silence in the metalinguistic function range from its being a discourse marker to reflecting the 'right to silence'. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Discourse analysis
  • Eloquent silence
  • Functions of language
  • Jakobson
  • Language and speech
  • Psychoanalysis

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

Error loading document authors.

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below