An Introduction to Discourse Analysis
In a moment, I will issue a “truth in lending” statement about what this book is and is not meant to do. But first, let me say something about the viewpoint on language that I will take in this book. Many people, including many linguists, think that the primary purpose of human language is to “communicate information.” In fact, I believe this is simply a prejudice on the part of academics who believe, often falsely, that what they themselves primarily do to and with each other is ‘‘exchange information.” Language, in fact, serves a great many functions and “giving and getting information,” yes, even in our new “Information Age,” is but one, and, by no means, the only one. If I had to single out a primary function of human language, it would be not one, but the following two: to scaffold the performance of social activities (whether play or work or both) and to scaffold human affiliation within cultures and social groups and institutions.
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