Meta-phatics (1)

For an index of other posts in this series, jump to the end of this post. This one reviews the following sources:

Ameka, Felix 1992. The meaning of phatic and conative interjections. Journal of Pragmatics 18(2): 246-271.

This paper focuses on two classes of interjections: the conative ones which are directed at an auditor, and the phatic ones which are used in the maintenance of social and communicative contact (see introduction to this volume). (Ameka 1992: 245)
The emphasis here is on maintenance. While Laver (1975) emphasizes the "marginal" phases of communication, most linguistic studies (Kulkarni 2011 included) seem to focus on maintenance as if greeting/parting were secondary operations.
This is followed in section 3 by an investigation of the significance of expressions used to get people's attention and to communicate with people over a distance. (Ameka 1992: 246)
It is a sorry state that Jakobson mentioned attention, but not co-operation, for example. (In this I am assuming that Jakobson borrowed and devalued Ruesch's approach to social techniques, among which "attention" was just one.)
It is reasonable to say that a linguistic sign whose meaning does not conatin an illocutionary dictum is not a speech act. If this assumption is accepted, then I hope to demonstrate that interjections are not speech acts precisely because there is no illocutionary dictum in their semantic structure. (Ameka 1992: 247)
Does this mean that interjections are "phatic acts"?
There are a number of features of this formula which are significant. One of them is the use of 'you and I' and 'we' in many places in the formula. This is meant to capture the simultaneous performance of the act. This indicates that this communicative act is a co-operative one. Observe that there is no separate response turn, but the summons and the response, so to speak, are embodied in one move. (Ameka 1992: 249)
I spoke too soon, there indeed is a co-operative aspect to greetings, embodied in the simultaneity or reciprocity of the act of greeting.
The dzáà! formula is a kind of general purpose welcoming salutation. It shows the pleasure of the speaker to have noticed the arrival or presence of the addressee. It is an enthusiastic acknowledgement from the speaker that the addressee is in the place s/he is. In some cases, the speaker proffers this either because s/he is the first to notice the addressee or perhaps because s/he arrived at the place before the addressee. For instance, when two people from different villages are visiting a festival ground in a different locality meet, one can salute the other with dzáà!. The repetition of the form in the performance of the act is symptomatic, I suggest, of the good feelings that the speaker has towards the addressee. (Ameka 1992: 251)
So in effect it's something like "Pleasure seeing you here."
Animals that have 'personal' names may be summoned by their names. Names are usually given to dogs and less frequently to cats. (Ameka 1992: 266)
According to popular science cats can recognize their names being called but don't care to respond.
Just as there are forms for calling animals to oneself, so are there forms for sending them away. For sheep and goats the form kái! is used. Dogs and cats are sent away by the form sã!. (Ameka 1992: 267)
The Ewe corpus in this paper is full of false friends. Here, the first resembles Estonian "käi!" ("go!", semantically equivalent to English "git!") used for repelling animals; and the second resembles English and possibly Russian "shoo!".

Bazzanella, Carla 1990. Phatic Connectives as Interactional Cues in Contemporary Spoken Italian. Journal of Pragmatics 14(4): 629-647.

Besides, while the relevance of the interactive aspect has been emphasized both in the field of teh ethnography of communication and in the analysis of discourse by scholars of several countries, it still has not enough room in Italian linguistics (even though things have partly been changing in the last few years). (Bazzanella 1990: 629)
These keywords are certainly compatible with Relevance Theory and "interaction processes".
By 'PCs' I mean those items otherwise variously referred to as 'discourse particles', 'utterance particles', 'marqueurs de fonction interactive', 'particelle conversazionali', 'Gesprächpartikeln', 'conversational greasers', etc. which mainly perform a phatic function in the discourse, underlying the interactive structure of the conversation. I distinguish them from the 'pragmatic connectives', which also niclude metatextual connectives, used to mark the structuring of the discourse (cf. Bazzanella (1985)). (Bazzanella 1990: 630)
I've seen others hold that some pragmatic connectives carry a phatic function.
(La via dova abito, sai, è così rumorosa. [F]
'The street where I live, you know, is so noisy.'
Clearly, the propositional content of the utterance does not change if we erase sai. The speaker does not intend, when uttering sai in (1), to verify if the addressee actually knows about the noisiness of the place where s/he/the speaker her/himself lives; s/he wants, rather, to inform the addressee about it, making her/him participate in this knowledge, as though it were already shared. What is relevant to the use of sai is not the fact that the knowledge is actually achieved, but the speaker's intention to consider it so. (Bazzanella 1990: 632)
I wonder if this could be connected with Ruesch's communization, i.e. reference to common knowledge or experience.
Addressee's PC's, in conclusion, should not be merely considered "signals of continued attention" or "accompaniment signals" (cf. Oreström (1983: 105)), but, rather, interaction markers, used, as Japanese sentence particles, to underline social relationships involved in conversational exchanges, such as showing attention and comprehension, keeping the channel open, indicating agreement, and assuring empathy. (Bazzanella 1990: 640)
These are all Jakobsonian aspects, i.e. demonstration of continued attention.
If the current speaker, for example, is requesting comprehension by means of a PC (e.g. capisci 'you understand', both in the assertive and interrogative form), the addressee uses a PC to confirm his/her comprehension (e.g. capisco 'I understand'). The speaker uses one PC in her/his utterance to take the turn, to request attention, to assume shared knowledge, to request comprehension or confirmation, and the addressee responds, using another PC to try to take the turn, to confirm attention, shared knowledge, comprehension, and to grant confirmation. (Bazzanella 1990: 641)
A sort of meta-dialogue seems to develop between speaker and addressee, a dialogue made of requested (marked by, for example, non è vero? 'isn't it?') and granted confirmations (marked by, for instance, proprio così 'exactly'), of explanations or self-repairs, sometimes advanced by the speaker (diciamo 'let's say'), and of restatements (marked by, for example, ecco 'here is'). (Bazzanella 1990: 642)
Abercrombie's "comments" are in effect a form of meta-dialogue, aren't they?

Bullis, Connie and Betsy Wackernagel Bach 1991. An Explication and Test of Communication Network Content and Multiplexity as Predictors of Organizational Identification. Western Journal of Speech Communication 55(2): 180-197.

One difficulty in network research has been the identification of multiple (e.g., multiplex) network relationships. Burt (1983, p. 35) asserted "with the notable exception of ethnographers, network analysts rarely capture the complexity of naturally occurring relations." Traditionally, network research has emphasized communication structure rather than communication content (Burt & Schott, 1985). The study of content has proven to be perplexing in network research, making it difficult to identify and dissect complex communication relationships. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 181)
Phaticity does not seem to amend this as it's difficult to tell whether it concerns content or structure, or the structure of content, or content about structure.
Cheney (1983a, 1983b), Tompkins and Cheney (1983, 1985), and Cheney and Tompkins (1987) posited organizational identification (OI) as the basis of a rich, rhetorically-informed theory of organizational communication. OI is both a process and product involving the development of a relationship between individuals and organizations. They explained that although Kenneth Burke's (1950) and Herbert Simon's (1976) discussions of OI are different, they are complementary. Burke emphasized that individuals actively link themselves to elements in the social scene in order to compensate for the segregation they experience. This congretation/segregation dialectic is perhaps the fundamental dimension underlying human social life (Burke, 1950). Burke specified that employing organizations are natural targets for this identification process. Although Burke's primary interest was in explaining, understanding, and criticizing human relations, his theory is also useful for the purpose of understanding the development of individual-organizational relationships. The fundamental need to identify is integral to the assimilation process (Jablin, 1986). (Bullis & Bach 1991: 181)
Replace "organization" with "group" and you have the system theorist's talk of integration. I've found Burke's remarks about identification in a short posthumous paper extremely helpful but have found little on his concept of "identification" elsewhere. This may be it.
Individuals are considered to identify with organizations to the extent that they feel a sense of belonging, membership, and similarity (Cheney, 1982). (Bullis & Bach 1991: 182)
Compare this to Ruesch's communization, and the "statistical boundary" in systems theory.
A variety of topics unrelated to organizational tasks may flow through a single communication link (Albrecht & Ropp, 1984). ALthough multiplexity has no definition upon which all completely agree (Minor, 1983), Verbrugge (1979) has asserted that whether defined by roles, behaviors, or affiliations, multiplexity refers to the multiple bases for communication in a dyad. Multiplexity is defined as the degree to which multiple contents flow through a dyadic link (Roger & Kincaid, 1981). Burt (1983, p. 37) suggested that "the relation of one person to another is multiplex to the extent that there is more than one type of relation between the first person and the second." (Bullis & Bach 1991: 183)
This definition of multiplexity seems serviceable. But it does elicit a typologization of relationships.
Salancik and Pfeffer (1977) and White and Mitchell (1979) have argued that talk which occurs when one identifies with an organization includes more than just job-related interaction. Moreover, Stohl (1984) found multiplex relationships to be more enduring, intense, supportive, intimate, and influential than other relationships. We may anticipate that individuals should experience stronger OI to the extent that tehy form multiplex links within the organization. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 184)
It seems intuitable enough that if your co-workers are more than mere co-workers but also friends and perhaps in some cases even lovers then organizational identification is stronger.
Given our focus on the relationship between the individual and the organization, we are most interested in an aggregate or global understanding of the individual's dyadic relationships. This assumes that individuals do not develop relationships directly with organizations but rather through their interactions with members of relevant organizations. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 184)
This is a statement akin to Ruesch's contention that it is impossible to study crowds directly; one can only study individuals in a crowd.
In typical communication network studies, respondents are presented with a set of three categories in which to "code" teh content of their conversations with otherS: (a) work-related (e.g., communication related to doing one's job; organizational policy and procedure), (b) social (e.g., family matters, personal concerns), or (c) innovative (e.g., new ideas; Farace, Monge, & Russell, 1977). Respondents often find it difficult to distinguish between these three content areas. Stohl and Kakarigi (1985) found that these content distinctions are particularly ambiguous if (a) the content areas are not defined or are unclear, or if they occur (b) within the same relationship, (c) at the same time, or (d) in several different relationships. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 185)
Typologization relationship is not easy, not even if communication is taken as its basis.
Phatic communication. Non-intimate and surface greetings, hellos, and chit-chat were coded as phatic communication and comprised 6& of the total talk. Characteristic of the conversations here were, "We exchanged a 'general hello,'" and "We exchanged brief greetings in the hall." (Bullis & Bach 1991: 190)
Thoroughly disappointing.
Social. Twenty-three percepnt of the communication was social. These conversations were non-intimate, trivial in nature, and not related to departmental issues. Discussions about current moves, skiing, food, and beer were typical. Social conversations included, "We talked about Chinese cuisine," and "I asked about his salmon fishing trip." (Bullis & Bach 1991: 190)
In a Malinowskian perspective this would be included under phatic communion.
Rather, the range of diversity of connections an individual tends to experience with others is related to OI. This finding echoes current calls for viewing communication as a rich, complex, identity-related phenomenon as opposed to a relational tool or conduit through which unitary clear messages flow. It also implies support for views that espouse the end of assumed "innocence" in our views of communication. In other words, as rich, diverse (i.e., multiplex), interaction occur, relationships develop, identities are shaped, and influence is exerted. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 192)
In other words, there are calls for proceeding from a hyposemiotic view of communication to a hypersemiotic one.
Phenomenologicall generated categories can be replete with jargon, argot, and laden with organizational values. Hence, these content categories provide a description of what is important to organizational members. For example, respondents from one department reported talking about being a "community of scholars," a departmental value that was expressed to incoming graduate students. The implication here is potentially important to network research. These results suggest the importance of asking respondents to specify the content of their interactions. This is consistent with recent work (Corman, 1990) that argues that network research is valuable not for its ability to discover collective communication structure but as a measure of members' perceptions. It is sensible to examine members' perceptions of content as well as the forms of linkages. (Bullis & Bach 1991: 193)
I'm not sure "respondent-generated" is synonymous with "phenomenologically generated". But the point stands, and I'm interested in how Blanco approaches this in her research.

Ephratt, Michal 2008. The functions of silence. Journal of Pragmatics 40(11): 1909-1938.

Deborah Tannen (1985) entitled her paper on silence "Silence: Anything but" indicating that silence is anything but nothing: void. So what is it? You may ask. This paper studies that silence, which Cicero, a master of rhetoric, regarded as 'one of the greatest arts of conversation'. To denote this silence unequivocally we adopt the term 'Eloquent Silence'. (Ephratt 2008: 1909)
Eloquent silence sounds correct, although the term I have recorded elsewhere in my blog is semiotic silence (Poyatos 1980), as well as notable silence (Bilmes 1994).
According to the OED, the word "eloquent" first appears in 1390, and, concerning silence, in 1862. It is also used in papers concerning silence, e.g., Sontag, 1961: 11; Labov and Fanshel, 1977: 313; Schmitz, 1990. Saville-Troike (1985: 6-7) uses the phrase "propositional-verbal silence"; Bilmes (1994) has "conversational silence"; Sobkowiak (1997) writes "acoustic silence vs. communicative"; Poyatos (2002) has "interactive silence". (Ephratt 2008: 1909; ff.)
Since there is bound to be a mess in relevant terminology, this overview is more than helpful.
Lyons' monumental two-volume book on semantics does not include silence. It is not mentioned in his chapter on "Verbal and non-verbal signaling" (1977: 57-66) or when he deals with types of lexical gaps (301-305). Lyons is in no way an exception. Yet these, as well as forbidden-words and ellipsis as a semantic shift, are all cases of lexical silence (see Sebeok, 1976: 118). Moreover, metaphor as a semantic shift incorporates eloquent silence as its subject as well as its vehicle (see e.g., Jaworski, 1997b; Buffini, 1999). (Ephratt 2008: 1910)
Damn, I should look up that chapter in Lyons.
Justice Potter's comment on pornography seems most applicable to silence too: "I shall not today attempt to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it [...]" (Jacobellis vs. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 1946; see similarly Courtenay, 1916: 399 on the definition of humor). (Ephratt 2008: 1911)
As many times as I've met the "But I know it when I see it" phrase with reference to the definition of pornography in a court case, this is the first instance with veritable citation. Thus far I very much like this author's pedantic yet approachable style.
As for the communicative interaction from the speaker's viewpoint, silencing as exercising power over another should be distinguished from eloquent silence (see the last two sections in Fig. 1). Silencing, unlike eloquent silence, is not a way chosen by the speaker to express himself or herself; on the contrary, it is an act depriving a person (or a group of persons) of expression. Much literature and reseach are presently concerned with the mechanism and object of silencing (see e.g., Zerubavel, 2006; on silencing concerning women and feminist matters see Clair, 1998; Glenn, 2004; concerning child abuse see Miller, 1991; concerning homelessness see Huckin, 2002; concerning academic reports see Dressen, 2002). (Ephratt 2008: 1913)
I believe modern feminists call their form of exercising this kind of power "no platforming", i.e. silencing dissident voices as well as "privileged" groups (white, male, cishet).
Concentrating now on eloquent silence, we investigate the role of silence in Jakobson's classic model of communicative functions of language, which has become well established in linguistics as in many other domains (see e.g., Krampen, 1996). Jakobson developed this model from one proposed by Bühler (see Bühler, 1934; see also Lyons, 1977: 51-52). Bühler's model consisted of three constituents of the process of verbal communication: referent (in the otuside world; third person); speaker (first person) and listener (second person). Jakobson added three more: means of communictaion belonging to both the outside world and to language and two constituents from the realm of language: the message and how it is organized, and the code as the object of communication. (Ephratt 2008: 1913)
Wait, wait, hold up, hold up. "Means of communicating belonging to both the outside world and to language" stands for the channel factor and the phatic function? That is the oddest description I've met on the subject. At first sight I thought this might me an elaboration that takes into account how Jakobson (quite ambiguously) divided his functions into intro- and extroversive ones, but not at all sure that that's the case here.
Each of the six constituents participates in the communicative process, but in each communicative event only one is salient. This salience determines the communicative function of the given event. (Ephratt 2008: 1913)
More trouble. Salience is a good term, but the dominant function might not be the only salient function. Likewise, Jakobson, as far as I recall, didn't approach his material in terms of "events" all that much. At the heart of his investigation was still poetry and written word, which aren't all that amenable to the "event" view.
In respect of the referential function, can eloquent silence make claims (propositions) about the outside world? Sobkowiak (1997: 46) stated that the referential or illocutionary significance of silence is nil (although it might carry contextual meaning), adducing literature from pragmatics. But apparently no one can argue that the zero sign has no referential meaning. Jakobson (1937: 152), following Bally, defines the zero sign as "a sign invested with a particular value but without any material support in sound". This citation hinges on these authors' structural method and theory regarding paradigmatic relations. Jakobson 91937: 151), referring to de Saussure, states, "According to the fundamental formula of F. de Saussure, language can tolerate the opposition between something and nothing and it is precisely this 'nothing' that is in opposition to 'something' - or in other words, the zero sign". (Ephratt 2008: 1914)
In broad strokes the referential function pertains to contextual meaning, but in this case the idiosyncracy of Jakobson's understanding of context stould be considered (more like literary allusion than ostensive reference).
Jakobson and Bally do not mention the famous 4th-century Indian linguist Panini (see Bloomfield, 1933: 209). Yet Panini's ordered formal grammar is clearly the source of the notion of the zero sign (see Scharf, 1996: 173-174, for a description of Panini's 'Lopa' and rules). (Ephratt 2008: 1914)
This is partly why I don't dare to read de Saussure. I don't know the context (in the above sense of allusions and implicit citations).
The Talmud states: "Greater than 'Rav' - 'Rabbi'; Greater than 'Rabbi' - 'Raban'; greater than 'Raban' - his name [i.e., no title]" (free translation, Tosefta 'Testimonies' Ch. 3:4). The paradigm here is constructed as a hierarchy from the least honored to the most. So the most honorable title is a zero sign, that is, the absence of any title, for example, "Rabbi Akiva / Raban Gamliel / Ø Hillel". (Ephratt 2008: 1914)
Reading this, I had a feeling that these examples are erroneous. Knowing that it's really not my place to comment, it nevertheless seems that another interpretation would be to assume that in small groups there were single Rabbis and Rabans, so that referring to those people by their title was enough, but for the "greatest", in this case Hillel, the person as if transcends the formality and can be referred to as above and beyond the system of titles. In other words, "Rabbi Akiva" is redundant, and should not include his name.
But silence is not restricted to the expression of pain. Shakespeare said, "Silence is the perfect herald of joy" (Much Ado About Nothing). Similarly, Heinrich Heine called silence a precondition for happiness. Marcel Marceau, the world's greatest mime, asks, "Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us all without words?" and Martin Luther King Jr. holds that "We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends". (Ephratt 2008: 1917)
Quotations galore.
Due to space limitations, one single yet very impressive example must suffice: the case of Sara, reported in detail by Serani (2000). She describes Sara as a textbook 'good patient': "very likable person, and both she and I found ourselves very drawn into the work that we were doing. Over the next year a silence fell within each session" (508). Serani describes this recurrent, prolonged silence at length, detailing her observations of Sara and her own feelings evoked by her patient's prolonged unexplained silences; they were distressful and annoying. But Sara seemed perfectly calm and content. Yet Serani describes this silence as undemanding, an "unusual silence". She then relates how external circumstances made it possible to discover the cause of these silences. Sara disclosed to her therapist that her mother, who the therapist knew had died when Sara was a year old, had been deaf (she did not speak and did not sign). Sara's silence was a reenactment of her comfortable interaction with her mother, and a means of communicating (using the same mode of communication she had practiced as an infant with her mother) her memories and longings for her mother and for such a calm ad bonding relationship. Serani writes, "The next several weeks were spent just having the silence. Remaining in the quietness was now not a curious or frustrating exchange, but one of a union of sorts" (517; and see also Weisman, 1955: 252). (Ephratt 2008: 1918-1919)
Un-phatic communion.
Though all functions are initiated by the verbal behavior of the speaker (addresser, his/her words, silences and their referents), the conative function centers on speech acts: the use of words (and here eloqunet silence) to activate the addressee (here too the speaker's silence, not the listener's, which is active, serves the purpose). (Ephratt 2008: 1919)
I get it, Ephratt is paraphrasing Jakobson. "Activation" is pretty good. It could definitely serve as a link between the conative and the as of yet displaced regulative function.
Among the different conative roles of silence we should therefore acknowledge this procedural role in directing discourse. (Ephratt 2008: 1920)
Still, some of these paraphrases are indeed odd. Role is synonymous with function, but it may become confusing is replaced as such for other functions. Talking of a "phatic role" at least presently seems out of place.
The first of Jakobson's (1960) three additional communicative functions is the phatic. (Ephratt 2008: 1923)
False. In chronological order, the poetic function is first, metalingual second, and phatic third. In effect, the phatic function is the last of Jakobson's linguistic functions, and the one about which he says the least.
Jakobson adds that this "phatic function of language is the only one [which animals] share with human beings. It is also the firs tverbal function acquired by infants" (compare Olinick, 1982; Winnicott, 1958, regarding silence). (Ephratt 2008: 1923)
Also false. Not animals in general but talking birds (parrots) in particular, and even then the sentence ends with when speaking with humans. The importance of the last part is understated and to my knowledge no-one (besides me) has bothered to look up Mowrer's work. The missed point is that talking birds don't engage in phatic communion with each other, but only with humans.
In the realm of language the contact - the means of communication - lies at the center of the function. This is the carrier of the language in the world. Žegarac (1998) devotes his paper to the question "what is phatic communication?" One answer is "minimum of information vs. maximum of supportive chat" (Žegarac, 328). The most obvious example is "small talk": commuters on the London UNderground going on about the weather; similarly, see Olinick's description of barber's chatter (Olinick, 1982: 463). This is empty speech, Lacan's "parole vide", "wheret he subject seems to be talking in vain about someone who, even if he were his spitting image, can never become one with the assumption of his desire" (Lacan, 1956/1966a: 50, see also Reik, 1926/1968: 176-177, 183; and see Bilmes, 1994: 82: "some silences are obscured by words"). According to Lacan, empty speech deceives, but its unique contribution is that by speaking it situates the speaker in the locus of the Subject. (Ephratt 2008: 1923)
Contact being in the "center" of phatic function is not factually wrong, inasmuch as "set on contact" is sufficiently ambiguous ("set" in English reportedly is the word with the greatest variety of meanings, some 120+ altogether). But in reality the cases of the phatic function viewed as set on contact is negligible. Even here phatic speech is "empty" or "in vain" rather than about contact.
In contrast to the empty speech of the phatic function, eloquent silence plays a uniquely powerful role in carrying phatic meaning. (Ephratt 2008: 1923)
What is "phatic meaning"? Because many argue that speech in the phatic function is "meaningless" (or "desemanticized").
Similarly, many businesses connect their telephone systems to a radio channel only to confirm that the communication channel - the telephone - is still operative (regardless of whether a real person is listening at the other end). (Ephratt 2008: 1923-1924)
Somewhat related: it is possible to conduct a phatic analysis of the sound signals in dial-up tones.
David Grossman's Hebrew novel Someone to Run With (section 2.2) furnishes an example of our own. The novel ends with a meeting betwen Tamar and Assaf: "Tamar noticed that she had never met a person she felt so comfortable being silent with" (374). In all Olinick's examples, such phatic silence serves the ultimate togetherness: intimacy between two separate selves/individuals (see also Winnicott, 1958; Reik, 1926/1968 on the analyst's initial silence; see further below). (Ephratt 2008: 1924)
Etymologically, "phatic silence" may be oxymoronic. But perhaps not, as it would essentially amount to "speech silence".
This is the complementary phase of the phatic function: keeping the channel of communication open through silence. Jensen (1973) regards the maintenance of contact (a phatic role) as the principal role of silence (followed by roles such as expression of sympathy and revelation). (Ephratt 2008: 1924)
I think there's a mismatch here between the phatic function as pertaining either to linguistic speech or to communication.
The two functions that Jakobson added to Bühler's model are centered on language, the signifier axis. Because tehy share language as their center, Jakobson (1960: 358) states: "Poetry and metalanguage, however, are in diametrical opposition to each other: in metalanguage the sequence is used to build an equation, whereas in poetry the equation is used to build a sequence". (Ephratt 2008: 1925)
What he means by this is that in the metalingual function, messages follow each other and expose an equivalence between certain words (e.g. a bachelor is an unmarried man), but in the poetic function the similarity of how certain words sound (how they rhyme) are used to construct a poem.
If we ask, for example, "What is longer, a pig or a ladybird?" we will get two different answers depending on whether the answer is referential or metalinguistic (referring to the objects denoted or to their names, the words). (Ephratt 2008: 1926)
There is a clever trick in Estonian, asking someone "Mitu tähte on taevas?" (How many stars are in the sky?) The answer may be something like "I don't know" or an approximate guess, "Billions", but since täht is homonym for "star" and "letter", the first person then says,"T-a-e-v-a-s has six letters in it", thus pointing out that the second person is stupid for not knowing how many letters are in a simple word (the implication being that the second person can't read or write). It's a childish kindergarten-tier joke, but based on the same confusion between referential/metalingual operations.
Our lips remain sealed. Referring to the code, this silence asserts: "I am not part of it, I do not share this code". As such, this is indeed an naswer to the metalinguistic question; it spells out: "No, I cannot communicate with you". (Ephratt 2008: 1926-1927)
There is a strictly pedantic problem with this solution. And it's basically the same one I raise against semioticians of architecture who think they can find metalingual function in building forms. The problem is simply this: silence is not a verbal message. It has no linguistic structure. It is not a linguistic message about the linguistic code.

Faerch, Claus and Gabriele Kasper 1982. Phatic, Metalingual and Metacommunicative Functions in Discourse: Gambits and Repaprs. In: Enkvist, Nils Erik (ed.), Impromptu Speech: A Symposium. Papers Contributed to a Symposium on Problems in the Linguistic Study of Impromptu Speech (Abo, Finland, November 20-22, 1981). ED277223.

In the Jakobsonian model of communicative functions (1960), a distinction is observed between the phatic and the metalingual function. Following Malinowski, Jakobson attributes a predominantly phatic function to a message if it serves 'to establish, to prolong, or to discontinue communication, to check whether the channel works [...], to attract the attention of the interlocutor or to confirm his continued attention' (1960: 355). The metalingual function operates 'whenever the addresser and/or the addressee need to check up whether they use the same code' (356). The latter definition needs clarification on two pointS: (1) In Jakobson's terms, the metalingual function is interactionally defined: it is in focus in the case of shared communication problems due to differences in the availability of the code used. (Faerch & Kasper 1982: 72)
It is no wonder that "to attract the attention" has become the main focus of phatic research in some quarters if these two passages are the only ones quoted.
In other words, the metalingual function operates when the focus is on the 'objective' properties of the code, whereas the metacommunicative function relates to the speaker's subjective intentions or the hearer's subjective interpretation thereof when using the code. Although there will be cases of overlap between the metalingual and the metacommunicative function, a distinction along the lines suggested seems both theoretically and empirically feasible. (Faerch & Kasper 1982: 73)
The objective/subjective dichotomy may resolve this distinction, but it's a bit imposing. The key is in the terms themselves: one pertains to language, the other to communication. In my opinion it cannot be assumed that language is objective and communication subjective. Rather, it is the case that metalingual pertains to strictly linguistic signs while metacommunicative pertains to signs in various modalities. This, I gather, was behind Ruesch & Bateson's original intention behind coining "metacommunication" - to relegate what was previously considered "noise" (such as emotional expressions) to a point of importance.
Of the discourse-regulating functions introduced above, we shall now discuss uptaking in some more detail. In so doing, we hope to identify some aspects of the relationship between the phatic function on the one hand and the metalingual and metacommunicative function on the other hand.
Within uptaking, various subfunctions can be distinguished, which can be glossed as follows:
  1. 'I'm listening': indication of the hearer's attention to the speaker's verbal activity
  2. 'I can hear what you're saying': indication of the speaker's verbal activity being physically accessible to the hearer (mm, uhu)
  3. 'I understand what you're saying': indication of the present hearer's assigning meaning to the speaker's utterance (mm, uhu, I see, yeah)
  4. 'I agree to what you're saying': indication of agreement with the present speaker's message (that's right, sure)
  5. 'I react with surprise/doubt/anger... to what you're saying': indication of the hearer's emotive reaction to the speaker's message (really, oh no, how splendid).
Whereas the subfunctions (c), (d) and (e) can easily be identified in many types of verbal interaction, (a) and (b) seem to be theoretical possibilities rather than empirically observable distinctions. However, attention signals which indicate nothing but the hearer's readiness to 'tune in' to his interlocutor (a) are used in telephone conversations when there is noise in the channel ('hello' indicating 'I'm (here and) listening but I can't hear you'), as a response to a summons in the first exchange of an encounter (S1: 'Excuse me professor Flabberwacker' - S2: 'yes'), or in fact as an initiating opening move in service or counselling encounters where the mere entering of a customer/client into the setting calls for signalling availability to talk by the participant whose service is requested ('yes'). Function (b) is in focus when a learner acknowledges the speaker's verbal activity without however receiving the message - this can either be due to the learner's inattentiveness ('sorry I wasn't listening - what are you saying?'), or to his inability to assign meaning to the speaker's utterance ('I heard what you said but I didn't understand it'). In both cases, the learner might use uptaking signals which from this point of view relate to his reception of a stretch of sounds uttered by the speaker only, whereas the speaker might mistakenly interpret them as signaling understanding. If we then assume that the suggested distinctions can manifest themselves under certain conditions, we can characterize their relationships as follows:
By expressing functions (a) and (b), the hearer topicalizes the psychological and physical preconditions for understanding, without however signalling understanding itself. Functions (d) and (e), on the other hand, while implying understanding, are concerned with the hearer's cognitive or emotive attitude towards the speaker's message. Only function (c) has to do with the present hearer's comprehension, which we paraphrased as 'assigning meaning to the speaker's utterance'. It presupposes that the speaker uses a code which is receptively available to the hearer. According to our definitions proposed above, signalling understanding as a subfunction of uptaking can therefore be characterized as having both a phatic and a metalingual function. (Faerch & Kasper 1982: 76-78)
So, yeah, the metalingual and the phatic function have some overlap when dealing with specific examples. These should be compared more thoroughly in Jakobson and Ruesch & Bateson than I have previously done.

Kita, Sotaro and Sachiko Ide 2007. Nodding, aizuchi, and final particles in Japanese conversation: How conversation reflects the ideology of communication and social relationships. Journal of Pragmatics 39(7): 1239-1241.

Aizuchi, head nods, and final particles shape Japanese conversation in its characteristic way. It will be argued here that the pattern of tehir useis not arbitrary in the Saussurean sense, but is rather motivated by cultural values. This approach is in line with other recent work that sought cultural motivations for language-specific patterns in syntax and semantics (e.g., Enfield, 2002a). Linguistic politeness is another area in which cultural motivations for linguistic practice have been sought (e.g., Ide, 1989, 1997). Thus, we should be able to take a similar approach for conversational phenomena. Therefore, the second goal of this article is to discuss how the use of these communication management devices may be motivated by what is considered in Japanese culture to be important in communication and social relationships. (Kita & Ide 2007: 1243)
I have a hunch that such concerns are present in other linguistic communities as well, but less well studied.
It has been also noted that, in Japanese conversation, two participants often nod simultaneously (Maynard, 1987), and the simultaneous nods can form a sequence (Kita, 1996, 1999), as in (6). Such nod sequences seem to be associated with positive affect as the two participants started to smile as soon as the sequence started (towards the end of lines 1a and b), which indicates that establishing rapport is an important function of simultaneous nodding. (Kita & Ide 2007: 1248)
Point for "reciprocal expressive function".
In addition to the turn management function, another motivation for exchanging aizuchis and nods in Japanese conversation seems to be coordination for the sake of coordination, like dancing and waltz, through which a social bond between the participants of a conversation is established and maintained. This is especially the case when the participants are on friendly terms (see, however, Saft (this issue), for a role of aizuchis in more confrontational talk). (Kita & Ide 2007: 1250)
Establishing and maintaining are Jakobsonian, but the preferred term here is "phatic communion". This is odd.
The social bond engendered through coordination differs from the affiliative social relationship that emerges through a converging stance on the content of the conversation. It has been noted that, in conversation, socially affiliative actions (e.g., agreement, acceptance of an invitation) are preferred to disaffiliative action (e.g., disagreement, rejection of an invitation) (see Goodwin and Heritage, 1990, Heritage and Raymond, 2005, for an overview). Strivers (in press) argued that, in American English story telling, the listener's nodding indicates that the listener shares the evaluative stance on an event or situation in the story with the speaker, and thereby indexes affiliation. Such affiliation is mediated by the content of conversation, whereas the social bond that emerges through coordination of nods, aizuchis, and cues that elicit them in Japanese conversation does not rely on the content of conversation. Due to this content-free nature, social bonding through coordination can occur pervasively in conversation. (Kita & Ide 2007: 1250)
This is where "affiliative" becomes contrasted with "affirmative". The latter emphasizes content while the former emphasizes form.
In other words, social bonding can be established through the exchange of nods and aizuchis, relatively independently from the referential content of conversation (unlike the affiliative actions such as agreement and acceptance). Therefore, Japanese conversation can constantly interweave two streams of activities, namely phatic communion and exchange of referential information, at the micro-interactional level. (Kita & Ide 2007: 1251)
Agreement and acceptance are not merely affiliative but affirmative.
The importance of exchanging aizuchis in Japanese linguistic practice is also apparent from the fact that aizuchi is not a technical term, but a part of the everyday vocabulary of Japanese speakers. Its etymology goes back to a technical term in Japansee traditional sword making. To make a sword, the master and the assistant hammer the iron alternately with a regular rhythm. The master, with a small hammer, sets the pace and instructs the assistant with a big hammer where to hit next. The assistant's blows physically shape the sword out of a lump of hot iron. (Kita & Ide 2007: 1251)
Having just recently watched the BBC documentary "Secrets of the Castle" about the Guedelon project, I can readily imagine the rhythmic hammering of metal.

McCarthy, Michael 2003. Talking Back: "Small" Interactional Response Tokens in Everyday Conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction 36(1): 33-63.

Small talk is, in lay terms at least, seen as talk that is in some sense an "extra" to the business at hand in any spoken interaction and as existing in "the pragmatic space between and among the transactional and the relational functions of talk," to quote Candlin (2000, p. xv), who raised some of the problems associated with this idea of small talk, as it were, "squeezing itself in" between other types of talk, some of which problems this article also attempts to shed light on. (McCarthy 2003: 33-34)
Perhaps this view is so prevalent because it's perfectly possible to conduct conversations without resolving to "small talk"?
Much of the research in Coupland's volume illustrates how (at first glance unimportant) episodes such as phatic exchanges, personal anecdotes, and evaluative comments by speakers are a central part of the fabric of the talk and assist its efficient progress toward its transactional goals. (McCarthy 2003: 34)
This is surprisingly akin to Malinowski's phatic communion, especially "personal anecdotes".
I hope to do this by continuing the framework of recent reassesments of nontransactional talk, very much in the spirit of work such as Coupland, Coupland, and Robinson (1992) where, building on Laver's work (e.g., Laver, 1975), phatic exchanges are approached in an exploratory way and not relegated to a secondary level or seen in somew ay communicatively deficient. (McCarthy 2003: 34)
This is good. It is also reminiscent of the title of Kulkarni's 2011. paper ("Exploring Jakobson's phatic function").
The set of words that routinely perform these interactional and relational responsive functions also contribute to the elaboration of the notion of "good listenership," an important area of spoken discourse analysis and one that linguists have often downplayed in favor of a concentration on speaking turns as primary/initiating, rather than responsive, input. (McCarthy 2003: 36)
Relationally responsive or reciprocally expressive?
The data also suggest, in line with general descriptions of phatic and relational communication, that speakers prefer convergence and agreement (Malinowski, 1923/1972, pp. 150-151). (McCarthy 2003: 41)
Emphasis on affirmation and consent.

Placencia, María Elena 2004. Rapport-building activities in corner shop interactions. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8(2): 215-245.

Among the scholars who have dealt with the topic across the decades are Firth (1937), Laver (1975, 1981) and Knapp (1978). Firth (1937), for example, underlines the importance of phatic communication by pointing out the amount of space people allocate to this kind of communication in their daily lives. As he says, '[t]he promotion, establishment and maintenance of communion of feeling is perhaps four-fifths of all talk...' (Firth 1937: 128). (Placencia 2004: 215)
Huh. I had no idea Firth dealt with this topic so early (The Tongues of Men, 1937). Mark Knapp's reference is to Social Intercourse: From Greeting to Goodbye (1978). God damn. When will I ever get to these books?
Knapp (1978: 112), echoing Malinowski, also underlines the function of phatic communication when he says that '[s]mall talk is a way of maintaining a sense of community or fellowship with other human beings', helping us to '...cement our bond of humanness'. (Placencia 2004: 216)
At least this much is known: Knapp subscribed to the Malinowskian perspective.
The title of this paper refers to Aston's notion as an umbrella term for a range of activities, including language play exchanges which are creative activities not associated with phatic communication as it has been traditionally conceived, that is, as referring to: inquiries about health, talk about the weather and affirmations of some 'supremely obvious' state of affairs (Malinowski [1923]1972: 149); greeting and leave-taking tokens (Laver 1975, 1981); and exchanges of 'biographical information' (Knapp 1978). (Placencia 2004: 216)
The latter aspect is one of the least treated. I don't even have a term for it aside from "history taking" (too medical) or communization (too broad).
The participants' behaviour can also be described in relation to the roles they play, as illustrating what Gudykunst and Kim (1997: 106) refer to as 'personalness', that is '...the tendency to respond to others as total persons...' rather than 'impersonalness', which they describe as '...the tendency to respond to specific aspects (i.e. the role) of another person' (Gudykunst and Kim 1997: 106). In other words, participants in the present study do not seem simply to adopt the institutional roles of shopkeeper and customer, but they also give themselves a personal role to play, and move between these roles in the interaction. (Placencia 2004: 217)
So... Multiplexity? Also, think of the word "personable" (pleasant, agreeable, likeable, nice).
Malinowski's ([1923]1972) conception of 'phatic communion', as described above, suggested that this type of talk, with relational purposes, stands in contrast to talk that is geared towards the transmission and reception of information. This dichotomy is crystallized in Brown and Yule's (1983) distinction between interactional and transactional talk, the latter focused on the transfer of information, and the former on teh establishment and maintenance of social relationships, although, as Aston (1988a: 20) notes, Brown (1982) recognizes that speech is rarely just transactional or just interactional. (Placencia 2004: 218)
1983 is too late for this distinction. As far as I know intraaction, interaction and transaction originate from the process philosophy of 1920s and culminated in communication research in the 1950s. For example, Ruesch writes that "all information we exchange is transacted in social situation" (1956a: 41).
Through the adoption of these conventions, while there is a gain in clarity of presentation for the reader, the nuances of socio-affective meaning the features in question convey are not captured in the transcription. (Placencia 2004: 221)
By providing a matching assessment, the shopkeeper signals that he shares the same views as his customer, and, therefore, emphasizes similarities between the two participants. 'Peirceived similarity' is one of the features taken into account in service encounter studies as a factor that can contribute to the development of trust on the part of customers in their service provider (cf. Doney and Cannon 1997; Coulter and Coulter 2002). Coulter and Coulter (2002: 38), for example, observe that '[s]imilarity allows customers to "identify" with their service representatives on a personal level'. They claim that this identification, in turn, '...reduces interpersonal barriers, raises comfort levels, and contributes toward the establishment of trust' (Coulter and Coulter 2002: 38). In politeness studies, on the other hand, the claiming of common ground (cf. Brown and Levinson 1987) is regarded as one type of politeness strategy participants use to reduce distance and claim solidarity where there could be face-threatening acts. However, no face-threat can be observed in the foregoing interaction. (Placencia 2004: 229)
Communization and identification. I wonder if "common ground" here is coincidentally or intentionally Peircean.
In this interaction, the shopkeeper updates himself about his customer's news through a number of questions and comments, showing interest in her plans at the same time. Using Coupland and Ylänne-McEwen's (2000: 180) words, we can say that the different conversational topics participants engage themselves in allow them '...to move out of their institutional roles and to glimpse each other as individuals'. On the other hand, it is only a glimpse in that the topics dealt with do not get to constitute 'big talk', that is, talk characterized by '...greater focus and depth of personal disclosures' (Knapp 1978: 112). In other words, participants do not seem to seek much greater closeness, but to maintain the existing closeness through the enactment of phatic communication. (Placencia 2004: 230)
More on "history taking". I really need a better term. Personal disclosure, maybe?
Names, like greetings and how-are-you inquiries, articulate or reinforce the type of relationship participants want to claim for the interaction. In the interactions examined, both shopkeepers and customers employ a variety of forms that in the majority of cases display their knowledge of the other person's identity, while at the same time conveying a sentiment of some kind, depending on the form selected. (Placencia 2004: 230-231)
Using another person's name (frequently) is a Carnegiean technique. Here there is an added facet: latin culture enables "name variations" (much like Russian name abbreviations).
It could, on the other hand, be argued that in these interactions, there is an element of what Fairclough (1995) refers to as the colonization of public encounters by 'informality' and 'pseudo-intimacy'. A counter-argument to this would be that activities such as language play, which is partly aimed at entertaining, and extended conversational work seem to go beyond what is strictly required for a courteous and harmonious purchasing/selling relationship in the particular circumstances. (Placencia 2004: 240)
In service transactions the phatic communion is by necessity pseudo-phatic.

Placencia, María Elena 2005. Pragmatic Variation in Corner Store Interactions in Quito and Madrid. Hispania 88(3): 583-598.

By "interpersonal concerns," we mean displays of attention to the other interactant that focus on the person rather than on the transaction itself. A useful distinction in this respect is Fant's (1995) between "person-" and "task-orientedness" as alternative approaches adopted in achieving transactional goals. Person-orientedness is defined by Fant (1995: 198) as paying attention to the person with whom you interact, whereas task-orientedness denotes focusing on getting the task accomplished. (Placencia 2005: 583-584)
The distinction between interactional and transactional would suffice, I think.
Madrileños apparently consider corner store interactions part of the realm of the intimate, hence the informality of their speech and the lower degree of interpersonal wark their encounters contain. Certain exchanges, which typically occurr when ending the transaction in the Madrileño context, display a disposition of Madrileños to a group sociability that Quiteños do not show or at least not to the same extent. This, in Fant's (personal communication) words, may be termed an orientation to "public" and "gregarious" rather than "private" performance (see also Thurén 1998, below). (Placencia 2005: 585)
Another aspect to consider: how "private" or "public" a certain inter- or transaction is considered between cultures.
It is untrue, however, that Madrileño participants do not engage in any talk beyond the transaction. As the next section demonstrates, phatic talk exchanges (Coupland et al. 1992; Coupland 2000) and other non-essential exchanges (for purposes of transaction) occur also in Madrileño Spanish, more commonly when participants are moving out of the transaction. Such talk is often a group rather than a dyadic activity. Thus, interactions in MS can be said to be more public and thus less personalized than those in Quiteño Spanish. (Placencia 2005: 593)
Among all the diminutive descriptions of phatic communion or phatic speech, such as "meaningless", "non-referential", "desemanticized", "irrelevant", etc. this is the first of it being described as "non-essential".
For Thurén (1988: 222), such talk would be a reflection of Spaniards' disposition for "philia" or friendly communication, which is manifested in Spaniards' talkativeness since "not being talkative is to be unfriendly" (Thurén 1998: ibid.) However, the friendliness the same author describes does not involve the sense of intimacy or "preference for shielded private conversation" (Thurén 1988: 219) that might be descerned from many Quiteño interactions. (Placencia 2005: 594)
Philia? Huh.
Quiteños tend to avoid conflict, so that confrontational exchanges as in (35) were lacking in the Quiteño data despite constant price increases. Quiteños focus on expressions of interest in the other person and expressions of agreement, striving for harmony and the "externalization of positive feelings," to use the words of Triandis et al. (1984: 1373). In contrast, and by freely expressing their opinions, implying criticism of their interlocutor or a direct refusal of that criticism, the Madrileños observed value "self-affirmation," a form of behavior that participants in Thurén's (1988) study in Valencia appear to value too (see also Fant [1989] and Hernández Flores [1999]). (Placencia 2005: 595)
These issues are not unconnected with Carnegie's social technique of non-criticism. It would appear that there indeed are deep intercultural differences, even between cultures with qualitatively similar languages. One would probably find similar differences between Estonians and Finns.

Schlieben-Lange, Brigitte 1977. The Language Situation in Southern France. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 12: 101-108.

The introduction of French in non-French regions occurred in the form of a "parachuting". The big towns were francofied first, then the smaller towns, and finally the rural centers. This process is going on until today. The vernacular languages subsist only in the country. All official functions are performed exclusively in French (administration, school, law, religion, mass media). The use of the vernaculars is limited to family and informal working situations. So there are numerous nuclei (family, village) where the vernaculars are used, but they are separated from each other, and the speakers are unaware that the conditions of the neighboring nucleus are similar to their own. The disintegration of speech communities characterizes communication networks in France. (Schlieben-Lange 1977: 101-102)
From an administrative perspective this is no doubt rational, but from a romantic linguistic viewpoint it's outright condemnable. What if the russification of Estonia and other Soviet Bloc countries would have continued?
Social networks are based on communication. Using a common set of symbols is a necessary condition for actions, and social relationships and groups are based on actions. One of the functions of language is to give orientation and instructions for actions. If a language fulfills these communication needs and opens up the possibility for social actions, we may say that it has a function. But it has another function, too: to provide the possibility of phatic communication, whereby the function of speaking is to strengthen social relationships and group identifications without primary regard to actions. (Schlieben-Lange 1977: 102)
Amid so many Jakobsonians there is finally a Malinowskian approach to phatics. And as is frequently the case, the specific item picked out from Malinowski's definition is unique. Here, phatic communi(cati)on is opposed to what Malinowski termed speech-in-action. Amid so many Jakobsonians there is finally a Malinowskian approach to phatics. And as is frequently the case, the specific item picked out from Malinowski's definition is unique. Here, phatic communi(cati)on is opposed to what Malinowski termed speech-in-action.
Normally, both functions coincide: in speaking about actions, people form relationships and constitute themselves into groups. In all instances of diglossia, the two functions dissociate to a certain degree. Information and orientation for action are given in one language; the other language variety serves as a symbol of solidarity. By dissociation is meant the dichotomy of "language of power" and "language of solidarity". The solidarity represented by the "lower" variety of language may have different aspects: it may be a nostalgic reminder of better times and glorification of intimacy and rural life; or it may correspond to a "counter-society" with its own forms of organization and social relationships. (Schlieben-Lange 1977: 103)
In this sense a similar dissociation is currently occurring in many parts of the world due to English being the language of intellectual discourse and research, and local languages serving as a backdrop to English academic environment.
As a language loses its dual function of establishing common actions on teh one hand and establishing identities on the other, it stops functioning as a languag. A language is defined as a historical object with the primary aim of creating and conserving meaning. There are other defining elements of language, but I want to concentrate on the historical and semantic aspects. If a language ceases to be historical (to change) and to be meaningful (to conserve denotation) we can be sure that it is on the point of dying. When a language no longer functions in communication processes it is no longer necessary to create new words) (or word formation procedures for new necessities of communication. The language stagnates and, sometimes, is conserved in a "pure" and ahistorical form. When it is no longer used to communicate precise information the meaning of the signs tends to become vague. Connotations are conserved for a while, precise denotations tend to disappear. (Schlieben-Lange 1977: 103)
This reads like a warning for Estonian language. It explains why so much onus is put on coining new words to match international terminology. But I know little of it: having invested myself in English for so long, Estonian academic texts are already vague beyond comprehension for me.

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