The function of a text and the illocution of a sentence

The function of a text and the illocution of a sentence

Before dealing with text functions proper it is necessary to clear up several terminological problems. Modern, linguistic theory uses the notion of illocution while defining functional orientation of speech acts. Following some authors, we shall refer the notion of illocution to the level of a sentence, and the notion of text function – to the level of a complete speech fragment. It should be mentioned though, that in some sources these notions are used as synonyms, i.e. text function is equal to text illocution. Anyway, in every case we deal with intentional aspect of speech utterance.

Text function can’t be represented as a sum of separate illocutions, similarly as text meaning is not equal to a simple sum of the meanings of separate sentences. If we want to see a connection between text function and illocutionary force of separate sentences, we need to assume that there exists a system of illocutionary hierarchies, a system in which subordinate functions (illocutions) on the level of a sentence would correspond to the main text function. Meanwhile, it seems more sensible to connect the aim of the text with its functioning as a whole and to proceed from the fact that separate text elements (words, sentences or even fragments) contribute to the realization of this function, but in themselves, separately do not realize it.

Thus, while defining text function, of special importance become extralingual factors, such as addressee, situation, relations between communication partners, fund of shared knowledge of interlocutors. At the same time, treatment of sentences, in the aspect of their functioning contributes to revelation of peculiarities of functioning of the text as a whole speech fragment. As to the quantity of text functions, scholars have not come to a unanimous decision yet. But the majority of the newest foreign classifications of textual functions are based on the so-called “organum model” introduced into linguistic usage by Karl Buller.