Language: Functionalism versus Authenticity

  • Peter McGuire


This paper sets out to demonstrate that a phenomenological reflection on language highlights the possibilities of authenticity in communication, and as such provides a very necessary complement to the dominant linguistic perspectives: the syntactic and grammatical perspective, Saussurean linguistics, and systemic functional linguistics. While the syntactic and grammatical perspective, which predominates in the educational context, presents language as an institutionalized, authoritarian and self-contained system, Saussurean linguistics provides a view of language as a complex, self-contained, technical system, as such reflecting the nature of modern society. The third perspective, systemic functional linguistics, describes templates of specific genre, models which aid students to construct their own, while simultaneously discouraging individual selfexpression. In contrast, a reflective phenomenological perspective identifies and encourages authentic self-expression. The paper concludes by considering ways to reconcile the impetus in language teaching towards, on the one hand, the language of institutional authority, and, on the other, individual self-expression. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, Volume 6, Edition 2 August 2006

Author Biography

Peter McGuire

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1445-7377
print ISSN: 2079-7222