Discussion in 'English Only' started by Heba, Jun 9, 2007.

  1. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    Hello everybody

    I would like to know the meaning of the word ''phatic''. I have looked it up in the dictionary but I cannot find it.

    Here is the context:
    '' A writer uses phatic language in order to establish an appropriate relationship with his reader''
  2. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod says:

    Of, relating to, or being speech used to share feelings or to establish a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.
  3. domangelo Senior Member

    United States English
    Hi, how are you?
    How do you do?
    What's up?
    Just chillin'
    See you around.
    My regards.

    Phatic language
  4. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't think it means emotionally inspiring. It means social language, conversational language, or language designed to create a relationship between the speaker and the listener. domangelo's examples were great, in my opinion. There is no real information being communicated by those phrases but they do create a sense of relatedness between the two people.
  5. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I looked it up in Wikipedia and it appears to be the "automatic" phrases you use when talking to someone.

    I have highlighted the phatic in green below. In blue is the actual communication.

    So the phone rings and I pick it up:

    "Hey, Packard, how are you doing?"

    "Doing fine, Mike, how are you?"

    "Just fine, thanks. Listen, I need to borrow $50.00 until Wednesday. Can you lend it to me?"
  6. anothersmith Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    English, U.S.
    I've never heard that word before. Is it a word only academics use?
  7. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English

    I had heard of it, but I have never heard anyone use it in speech. It is a linguistics term.


    I wonder if "Phat" fashion is derived from that word?
  8. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    Hmmm.....I see....
    But dear JamesM, I wonder how can a writer write in such a style (with this kind of language)? (if there's no information at all?):confused:

    And doesn't the kind of conversation (provided by domangelo) inspires/creates some sort of emotion-link between two people? (truly confused...)
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    "Emotionally inspiring" would be writing that brought up deep emotions within the reader, whether of hope, admiration, reverence, love, or something else. My understanding of phatic language is that it is designed simply to establish a communication between people.

    "Hi, my name's James. What's your name?"
    "My name is Nichec. Nice to meet you, James!"
    "It's very nice to meet you, too, Nichec."

    That exchange does not inspire deep emotions, does it? It does, however, open the door to further conversation. Other than the names, it contains no real useful information. It creates a "social contract" of a sort, though, that allows a conversation to develop.

    All that said, I'm not sure that most books I read start with phatic language, at least as I understand the concept. Most fiction books I read seem to start with scene-setting, and that involves the communication of a great deal of information.
  10. Starbuck Senior Member

    Hi Nichec,

    While this type of phatic language can certainly indicate an "emotional link" between the two people involved, the word "phatic" is, in fact, as others have pointed out, a linguistics term. An old professor of mine used to define "phatic language" as "ceremonial language" -- that is, language used to set up the conversational context (as in "small talk") but prior to the beginning of the actual information being communicated.

    Starbuck :)
  11. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    Thank you very much, dear JamesM and Starbuck:)(once again, my fellow Americans saved me:D)

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