Language For Interacting With Others (EN1 Reflection 6)

The functions of the tenor can beto ask for information (question), to provide information (statement) to ask for services or goods(command), or offer or provide something(offer). However, the relation to our interlocutor determines how directly we can communicate: You can be direct or indirect and ask for something by implying something else. Sarcasm, passive-aggressiveness, in group/out group and authority (relation to others) are examples on infectors on the way we use language for interacting with others. The language can be coloured in depending on the authors attitude, feelings and evaluation/judgement.

We can increase or decrease the force of the message by looking at strength and focus. by adding an intensifier (fx "really") or lower the intensity (fx “a bit”) in front of a word, the strength and therefore the degree of the statement changes.

Other ways to adjust the force of the sentence could be repetition of key phrases, the use of parallelism, or the rule of three, as seen in many commercials.

We can sharpen or soften a message. Thomas and I did an example on both from the beginning of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” by Roald Dahl:

The Original

The Three Farmers

Down in the valley there were three farms. The owners of these farms had done well. They were rich men. They were also nasty men. All three of them were about as nasty and mean as any men you could meet. Their names were Farmer Boggis, Farmer Bunce and Farmer Bean.


The men

Somewhere there were farms. The owners had some kind of succes. They had an amount of money. Some might say they could be perceived as perhaps vaguely unsettling people. All of them were maybe somewhat off-putting to some people. They had names.


The Three Nasty Sheep Farmers with extreme succes and bad behaviour that lived in Wasp Valley, Chicago, Illinois.

Way down in the bottom of Wasp Valley, Chicago, Illinois, down the road to the left after the rusty sign, were situated three small farms with precisely 5,3 meters in between them, except the last one which had 5,4 meters from the rest. Because of their rich and varied heritage, the men were extremely well off, because of their succes with the oil-boom in the west, however they were also vile people due to their incredibly dubious moral. All of the three sheep-farmers who had benefitted from their rich heritage, were as vile and vicious as the devil himself. Their names were Farmer Charlie Michael Boggis, Farmer Richard Orwell Bunce and Farmer Julian Vince Bean.  

Opening up spaces

There are different ways to open up or close spaces between the author and the reader. Inviting to consider other perspectives is called “attribution”. Introducing other voices into the discourse is called “intertextuality". Opening up/ closing down spaces for negotiation is called “modality”. Entertaining other possibilities is also called "contracting the interaction space”.