9 junio, 2024

Communicative intention: definition, types and examples

Communicative intention is what a person intends to achieve when speaking, writing or otherwise emitting a message. That is to say, when we speak or write we do it with a purpose, whether it be asking, convincing, explaining, requesting or counting, among other things.

In other words, the communicative intention is the goal that every participant in a communicative act pursues through their speech acts. For example, if one person asks another «do you have time?», the sender’s communicative intention is to know what time it is.

For the communication process to take place fully, the sender and receiver of the message must share a common code (the sender encodes the message and the receiver decodes it, that is, interprets and understands it).

That code is not only the language, it is also all the cultural and social interpretations that both the sender and the receiver share; Hence, when learning a new language, certain situations of language use must also be learned, rather than simply linguistic constructions.

Types of communicative intention

Depending on what we want to do when we communicate, the intention will be different. It is not the same to persuade as to command, or to ask as to tell. In each of these communicative variants, the language changes.

Communication is based on the fact that human beings want to achieve certain goals through the use of language, and for that they will use specific words, gestures or intonation that allow them to convey the message in the way they want it.

persuasive communicative intention

When a person wants to persuade or convince someone else, they use the persuasive function of language. With words, you want the other person to do what you want. This intention is very clear in advertisements, where they try to convince us to buy or use a particular product.

When someone wants to convince, when speaking they will not only use expressions such as «please» or «could you?», «would you like to?» They will try to persuade the recipient. Through the arguments it will be that the receiver understands the point of view of the sender.

In the vast majority of cases it is an unconscious process, although there are people who carry out this communicative intention with full awareness.

Informative communicative intention

When the intention is to inform, the language will be more objective because what it is about is giving information to the listener. For example, when a piece of news is reported: «Luis arrived last night», «Mariela graduated as a lawyer last month», «an earthquake is a telluric movement or an earth tremor where the earth’s crust shakes suddenly and briefly».

The function of the language that is used for this communicative intention is referential, since it focuses on the context. Teachers often use informative intent in their classes.

appellative communicative intention

The appellative function of language is related to the appellative intention, which is when it comes to ordering something to someone, or generating a certain reaction in the recipient of the message. Therefore, this intention is focused on the receiver.

The language used will be clear and concise, as direct as possible. Thus, when a person says «quiet», he is telling others to be quiet.

Authority figures (such as mothers, fathers, teachers and professors) regularly use the appellative intention: «everyone bring today’s exercises tomorrow», «eat all the food», «don’t be late», «you have to study these points better for the exam».

But the appeal intention is also used when an institution, official or dependency is asked to resolve a requirement, or when we write a letter or document requesting something, since a response is expected from the recipient.

Warning communicative intention

This communicative intention is evident when in the speech we want to warn about something or warn of some danger or risk. Arguments that explain such dangers are also used to inform the receiver or receivers.

It also makes use of the appellate function, since the receiver is expected to pay attention to said warning: «Danger, area in recovery», «if you go through there they can assault you», «if you arrive late again you will not have the allowance of this month».

emotional communicative intention

It is the intention of the speaker when expressing his feelings or his state of mind: «I feel sad», «what a great day», «I’m in love», «I don’t like snails». The function of language is expressive.

phatic communicative intention

The phatic intention is to maintain contact with others, or to verify that the receiver is listening. For example: “can you hear me?”, “hello, hello!”.

poetic communicative intention

Through language you want to convey beauty, an artistic feeling, emotions that are difficult to express by other means.

It is common in poetic texts: «I want to be, crying, the gardener / of the land that you occupy and manure, / companion of the soul, so early» (Miguel Hernández).

“She did not love me, but who I wanted to be; and she always reproached me that she had not fulfilled my wishes ”(André Gide).

Metalinguistic communicative intention

Metalinguistics is said when information about the language is given or requested, about its uses, syntax, structure, etc.

Thus, when a person says: «grammar is the set of rules and norms to speak and write a language correctly», they are speaking with metalinguistic intention.

Examples of communicative intentions

Below are several statements with different communicative intentions:

-Please, cover your mouth when you cough, so you don’t infect anyone else (appellative communicative intention).

-I would love to have an ice cream! What do you think? Want? You fancy? Say yes! (persuasive communicative intention).

-Mom, I don’t feel well, my stomach and my head hurt, and I think I’m going to vomit (emotional communicative intention).

-The notes will be published on the first Monday of February (informative communication intention).

-If you don’t pay attention, I will be forced to take more drastic measures (communicative warning intention).

-Hello! With whom I speak? (phatic communicative intention).

-Syntax is the part of linguistics that studies the relationship of words and the functions they fulfill in discourse (metalinguistic communicative intention).

-“Once upon a time / a good little wolf / who was mistreated / by all the lambs. / And there was also / a bad prince, / a beautiful witch / and an honest pirate. / All these things / once upon a time / when I dreamed / a world turned upside down”, José Agustín Goytisolo (poetic communicative intention).

Themes of interest

Language functions

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