How To Build Your Core Competencies

How to Build Core Competencies

How to Build Your Core Competencies

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Think of Core Competencies as a Tree.

 

 
 


There is an old joke about 2 campers in woods.
A bear approaches. One of the campers starts putting on his running shoes. The other camper asks, “Why are you putting on running shoes? You can’t outrun a bear!”  To which the first camper replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!”

We are not the fastest or strongest animal in the jungle. We don’t see the farthest, smell the best, or hear every sound.
The thing that puts us on top of the food chain is our ability to work together in teams. What puts us on top of the food chain is our ability to combine our individual special talents (competencies) into a more powerful and productive whole.

Core Competency Defined

There are two ways to look at Core Competencies:

  1. Unique Skills
  2. Sustainable Competitive Advantage.

The first way is to look at your core competencies as the unique set of skills that make you you. For Einstein it was Math. For Jesse Owens it was Track. For Pavarotti it was singing. But, you don’t have to be famous to have core competencies. Your core competency could be cooking, or sports, or parenting. It does not matter what it is as long as you, and others, would consider it the foundation of who you are.
The other way to look at core competencies is to see them as the thing(s) that gives you a “Sustainable Competitive Advantage.” Gaining a “sustainable competitive advantage” may or may not be central to you as a person. You may not see the world in this competitive narrative. However, many people do. And most companies do. There is nothing wrong with seeing the world as a competition. (I would reference back to the bear in the woods joke.) When you apply for a job or seek out a mate you are selling your core competencies in a competitive market. In this case, core competencies are the skills you need to succeed in a career or business sense.
Your Core Competency is made of the 3 or 4 few basic things you do that set the foundation for what you can accomplish.
The more you understand your personal and professional core competencies the more you can reach and stretch towards new goals.
Everyone is unique. We all bring unique talents to the world. By understanding and building on “your” specific core competencies you are able to better recognize your strengths and weaknesses and better able to contribute to the whole.
By understanding your core competencies you can decide which skills require further development, which skills can be exploited, and, as importantly, which skills can be left to wither on their own.
By focusing on competencies you can better manage your day to day activities and if necessary eliminate the areas that are not beneficial.
Three Tests of a Core Competency
There are three tests to identify your core competencies:

  • Potential to wide variety of markets.
  • Contribute significantly to your success.
  • Difficult for competitors to imitate.

I’ll go over each one of these tests in detail.
But, first I describe How to Find your Core Competencies
One way to look at core competencies is to think of a Tree.


When you think of this tree think of the roots and leaves as learning. The Trunk as the core competencies. The branches of the tree as the sub-core competencies. And the fruit as the output or product of the core competencies.
When you think of the roots and leaves think about how they draw in the nutrients the tree needs to live. The roots find minerals the leaves find sunshine. They both find water. The big difference between tree and us is that we can move to find more sunshine or more nutrients. Trees are pretty much limited to where they start growing is where they are locked in.
When you think of the trunk think how this is the key structure that supports the production of fruit. When the tree is young the trunk is supple and dynamic. But, as the tree grows the trunk becomes more rigid.
When you think of the branches think about all the little skills you need to thrive. Your competency may be in computers, but you still need to cook in order to feed yourself.
Finally, when you think of the fruit of the tree think about how the fruit is the output of all the effort the roots, leaves, trunk, and branches go through. Just as you are the product of your core competencies.
Tips to develop your Core Competencies
Here’s a possible framework to stay true to one’s core competency and at the same time grow.
Many of us have traversed career paths where we start in an entry level, then move on to team leaders, then to project managers, and then to higher managerial roles. Until, a day arrives when we realize we are far removed from our core competency, we find ourselves far removed from what we are good at and enjoy doing.
While there could be several reasons for this, the underlying cause could be attributed to our inability to affective find and exploit our core competencies. The cause could be that you did not see managing and developing your core competencies as a lifelong learning opportunity.
Discover
The first few years of one’s career, typically 3-5 years, should be spent discovering the career and specialization options available and what core competencies are valued in that career.
The competencies we thought were appropriate when we started out, may not seem so after a few year working.
The goal is to find a career that excites you and benefits any employer as well.
Do not wait for someone to give you varied opportunities, create them yourself.
You will reach a point when you have gathered experiences and really enjoy what you are doing.
Specialize
When you have taken up an area of interest, at least the next 7 to 10 years should be spent carving your niche in that area.
It means diving into the minutest details, learning not just on the job but also from like-minded people outside the organization, and participating in technology or industry or academic forums.
This phase is not just about getting exposure to multiple areas or about the number of people one may manage or one’s revenue targets, but also about learning, becoming the best at something and creating a unique identity.
When you are recognized as a specialist, after having spent years in a field of work, you can choose to continue what you are doing or aspire to make a bigger impact.
Lead
It is important to retain our specialist skills while honing other skills that may lead to opportunities in leadership roles.
The specialization remains one’s core competency, adds credibility and forms the distinguishing character of one’s team and organization.
Specialization keeps us relevant, and provides more personal satisfaction and professional growth, than most of us would imagine.
You could think of your life as a small sapling which after nourishment develops into a strong tree with core competences as its trunk.
This core competency trunk helps in growing branches of different specializations and then these specializations grow opportunities as fruit.
To identify your core competences, use the following steps:

  • Think about what the marketplace wants.
  • Think about the factors that influence people’s hiring decisions.
  • Think about the factors (for example) that people use in assessing you for annual performance reviews or promotion, or for new roles you want. Then dig into these factors, and identify the competences that lie behind them.

Think about your existing competences and the things you do well.
For the list of your own competences, screen them against the three tests I list, 1) relevance, 2) difficulty of imitation, and 3)breadth of application, and see if any of the competences you’ve listed are core competences.
For the list of factors that are important to employers or clients, screen them using the three tests to see if you could develop these as core competences.
Review the two screened lists, and think about them:

  • If you’ve identified core competences that you already have, then great! Work on them and make sure that you build them as far as sensibly possible.
  • Spend most of your time focusing on your core competencies.
  • Don’t waste time on things are not your core competencies. If you computers are not your core competency and you don’t have to be a computer expert to do your job (A dentist for example) then don’t spend time trying to master the computer.
  • If you have no core competences, then look at ones that you could develop, and work to build them.
  • If you have no core competences and it doesn’t look as if you can build any that customers would value, then either there’s something else that you can use to create uniqueness in the market or think about finding a new environment that suits your competences.

Think of the most time-consuming and costly things that you do. If any of these things do not contribute to a core competence, ask yourself if you can outsource them effectively, clearing down time so that you can focus on core competences.
For example, as an individual, are you still doing your own cleaning, ironing and decorating? As a small Business, are you doing you own accounts, HR and payroll? As a bigger business, are you manufacturing non-core product components, or performing non-core activities?
The one question I always ask in trying find a persons core competency is, “What do you do when no one is watching?” If the answer is they play video games, then I would look to core competencies in marketing or developing video games. If the answer is writing, then I would look to core competencies in writing, Public Relations, Journalism, Teaching, or managing.
Additional Tips to help you develop your competencies

  • Tip 1: You’ll get better results if you involve other (carefully-chosen) people.
  • Tip 2: On a personal basis and in the short term, it might be difficult to come up with truly unique core competences. However, keep this idea in mind and work to develop unique core competences.
  • Tip 3: As ever, if you’re going to put more effort into some areas, you’re going to have to put less effort into others. You only have a finite amount of time, and if you try to do too much, you’ll do little really well.

 


Test # 1 – Can Be Applied In A Wide Variety Of Situations

A great core competency applies to a wide variety of situations.
If your core competency is teaching, you can teach in a lot of different situations. You don’t even have to be a teacher. You can be a manager that focuses on teaching. Or, you can be a mentor.
If your core competency is math, you can be an engineer or an accountant.
The point is that a great core competency is core because it applies in so many situations.
Business examples of core competencies?
Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world. Why? Their core competency is outstanding design. Great design gives them the ability to access lots of markets in ways that no one thought possible. Design provides the essence of many Apple products.
The tablet computer has been around for years but it wasn’t until the iPad that the market exploded. There were plenty of MP3 players before the iPod, but it was design that made the iPod a wild success. Design is also extremely Difficult to Imitate (see Chapter four) well, as demonstrated by the sheer number of failed iPod, iPad, and MacBook knockoffs and imitations that
fail to capture any market share.
Consider the period when Steve Jobs wasn’t at Apple, from the late 1980s through 1997. Was Apple a paragon of outstanding design? No – and they nearly vanished because they lost sight of their core competency.
Google is another company with a deep core competency: the understanding and development of algorithms. Algorithms are the heart of the company, from search results to contextual advertising to in-home products like Google Assistant. Their ability to develop great algorithms provides them access to markets and allows for eventual dominance in those markets. Algorithms drive all their successful products and services. And their algorithms are so secret that entire communities of SEO experts spend most of their careers trying to stay ahead of and decode Google algorithms, often to no avail.
Google also stumbles frequently when they step outside their core competency, with tools like Google Glass, Google+, etc.
These are two examples of core competencies by companies that understand their core competencies and execute on them very well. Note that in both cases, these competencies aren’t products or features – they’re attributes of the companies themselves, characteristics of their culture and people.
Personal Examples of Core Competencies
The best example of this is me. My core competencies are communication theory, telecommunication networking, and education.
My undergraduate degree is in Communicatons, my graduate degree is in communications, I worked for GTE/Verizon for 35+ years where I gain my telecommunications core competencies, and I taught at various colleges for over 30 year. And I love these core competencies. All the websites and books I am doing are the result of combining all these core competencies.
Here is another example. My son Paul. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics. He then got his first job in Healthcare. So, combining the two he is developing a core competency in Healthcare Economics.
Now he is building on his core competency by getting an advanced degree in Healthcare Economics. Here is how he sells this.


Test #2 – Difficult to Imitate

A good core competency is difficult for your competitors to imitate.
When you apply for a job, most likely there are many others applying for that job.
An advantage you can bring to an employer is a set of skills that most others cannot compete with.
What is not a core competency
Honesty, dependability, assertiveness or similar values cannot be core competencies because they are not difficult to imitate. Any can, and everyone should, be honest, dependable, and assertive. Going into an interview and saying that the reason you should be hired is that your are honest is not going to be effective. Because everyone is going to say the same thing and everyone can be as honest as you.
Another example of not a core competency is something broad like marketing or finance. Many, if not most people could be experts in marketing and finance.
What is a core competency
A core competency is difficult to imitate.
Having a degree is important, but it is not difficult to get a degree. However a degree from a top university is difficult to imitate. That is the reason these top universities can be so selective. They understand the value of the degree in terms of being difficult to imitate. A degree from MIT or Cal Tech, or Georgia Tech is difficult to imitate and hence a great builder of competencies.
Another example is having 30 years of experience. Clearly not everyone can have 30 years of experience and as a result it is difficult to imitate.
Finally, a unique talent is difficult to imitate.


Test #3 – Directly Contributes to Success

Your core competency should contribute directly to your success.
If you have a singing core competency, but your working as an accountant, then that singing core competency does not help you in your career.
Or, if you’re a singer, than a math core competency will not help you achieve singing success.
Now, if let’s say you are an accountant, but you consider your core competency singing, then you should change careers to allow your core competency to contribute to your success.

The Structure of Language

Understanding the Structure of Language is critical to Mastering Communication.

(Note here that Shannon and Weaver talked three key considerations, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic.  Under the Structure of language, I don’t include a discussion of pragmatics.  Pragmatics means did the communication achieve the goal.)

Key Points

  • Grammar is a set of rules for generating logical communication.
  • All languages have a grammar, and native speakers of a language have internalized the rules of that language’s grammar.
  • Every language has a lexicon, or the sum total of all the words in that language.
  • Phonetics and phonemics are the study of individual units of sound in languages.
  • Morphology is the study of words and other meaningful units of language.
  • Syntax is the study of sentences and phrases, and the rules of grammar that sentences obey.
  • Semantics is the study of sentence meaning; pragmatics is the study of sentence meaning in context.

Key Terms

  • lexical: Relating to the words or vocabulary of a language, especially as distinguished from its grammatical and syntactical aspects.
  • grammar: The set of rules a language obeys for creating words and sentences.


Language is the ability to produce and comprehend both spoken and written (and in the case of sign language, signed) words and graphic, auditory, olfactory, and visual signals.

Understanding how language works means reaching across many branches of psychology—everything from basic neurological functioning to high-level cognitive processing.

Language shapes our social interactions and brings order to our lives. Complex language is one of the defining factors that makes us human.

Most of the time, if not all of the time, we communicate with each other using language without considering the complex activity we are undertaking, forming complex words and sentences in a split second.

We know immediately when someone uses language structures that are inappropriate or incorrect because we have learned the rules that govern the language(s) we use.

In this lesson, we will look at the structures we use in more detail, in order to help us to understand the structures we find in languages that may be arranged in ways quite different from what we may be comfortable with.

There are many approaches to the study of language. Some linguists are more interested in discovering the basic, innate structures that we all have in our brains, regardless of which language(s) we speak.

Linguists working in what is known as the generative tradition seek to understand universal grammar, the structures that human languages have in common and that we may be born with the capacity to use. The generative approach focuses on the formal characteristics of language structure, seeking to uncover the rules that ‘generate’ well-formed sentences.

Other linguists take a more functional approach, studying language use in context; in other words, what actually comes out of our mouths rather than what may be stored in our heads. Functional approaches seek to incorporate the meaning and broader context of language in order to fully understand language structure.

My lessons focus more on the functional approach.  The question for me is not how we structure language, as much as how we structure language best to achieve a specific intent.

 

Two of the concepts that make language unique are grammar and lexicon.

Grammar

Because all language obeys a set of combinatory rules, we can communicate an infinite number of concepts. While every language has a different set of rules, all languages do obey rules. These rules are known as grammar. Speakers of a language have internalized the rules and exceptions for that language’s grammar. There are rules for every level of language—word formation (for example, native speakers of English have internalized the general rule that -ed is the ending for past-tense verbs, so even when they encounter a brand-new verb, they automatically know how to put it into past tense); phrase formation (for example, knowing that when you use the verb “buy,” it needs a subject and an object; “She buys” is wrong, but “She buys a gift” is okay); and sentence formation.

Lexicon

Every language has its rules, which act as a framework for meaningful communication. But what do people fill that framework up with? The answer is, of course, words. Every human language has a lexicon—the sum total of all of the words in that language. By using grammatical rules to combine words into logical sentences, humans can convey an infinite number of concepts.

Introduction to Linguistics

Language is such a special topic that there is an entire field, linguistics, devoted to its study. Linguistics views language in an objective way, using the scientific method and rigorous research to form theories about how humans acquire, use, and sometimes abuse language. There are a few major branches of linguistics, which is useful to understand in order to learn about language from a psychological perspective.

Structure of Language

Major levels of linguisticsThis diagram outlines the various subfields of linguistics, the study of language. These include phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

Phonetics and Phonology

Phonetics is the study of individual speech sounds; phonology is the study of phonemes, which are the speech sounds of an individual language. These two heavily overlapping subfields cover all the sounds that humans can make, as well as which sounds make up different languages. A phonologist could answer the question, “Why do BAT and TAB have different meanings even though they are made of the
same three sounds, A, B, and T?”

Morphology

Morphology is the study of words and other meaningful units of language like suffixes and prefixes. A morphologist would be interested in the relationship between words like “dog” and “dogs” or “walk” and “walking,” and how people figure out the differences between those words.

Syntax

Syntax is the study of sentences and phrases, or how people put words into the right order so that they can communicate meaningfully. All languages have underlying rules of syntax, which, along with morphological rules, make up every language’s grammar. An example of syntax coming into play in language is “Eugene walked the dog” versus “The dog walked Eugene.” The order of words is not arbitrary—in order for the sentence to convey the intended meaning, the words must be in a certain order.

Semantics and Pragmatics

Semantics, most generally, is about the meaning of sentences. Someone who studies semantics is interested in words and what real-world object or concept those words denote, or point to. Pragmatics is an even broader field that studies how the context of a sentence contributes to meaning—for example, someone shouting “Fire!” has a very different meaning if they are in charge of a seven-gun salute than it does if they are sitting in a crowded movie theater.

The Structure of Language

All languages have underlying structural rules that make meaningful communication possible.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Explain the hierarchy of the building blocks of language

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Key Points

  • The five main components of language are phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, and context. Along with grammar, semantics, and pragmatics, these components work together to create meaningful communication among individuals.
  • A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that may cause a change of meaning within a language but that doesn’t have meaning by itself.
  • A morpheme is the smallest unit of a word that provides a specific meaning to a string of letters (which is called a phoneme). There are two main types of morpheme: free morphemes and bound morphemes.
  • A lexeme is the set of all the inflected forms of a single word.
  • Syntax is the set of rules by which a person constructs full sentences.
  • Context is how everything within language works together to convey a particular meaning.

Key Terms

  • lexeme: The set of inflected forms taken by a single word.
  • phoneme: An indivisible unit of sound in a given language.
  • morpheme: The smallest linguistic unit within a word that can carry a meaning, such as “un-“, “break”, and “-able” in the word “unbreakable.”

Every language is different. In English, an adjective comes before a noun (“red house”), whereas in Spanish, the adjective comes after (“casa [house] roja [red].”) In German, you can put noun after noun together to form giant compound words; in Chinese, the pitch of your voice determines the meaning of your words; in American Sign Language, you can convey full, grammatical sentences with tense and aspect by moving your hands and face. But all languages have structural underpinnings that make them logical for the people who speak and understand them.

Rapping in American Sign Language: Shelby Mitchusson performs an ASL translation of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. ASL and other sign languages have all the same structural underpinnings that spoken languages do.

Five major components of the structure of language are phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, and context. These pieces all work together to create meaningful communication among individuals.

Structure of Language

Major levels of linguistic structure: This diagram outlines the relationship between types of linguistic units. Speech sounds make up phonemes, which make up words. Words make up sentences, which have literal meanings and contextual meanings.

Phonemes

A phoneme is the basic unit of phonology. It is the smallest unit of sound that may cause a change of meaning within a language, but that doesn’t have meaning by itself. For example, in the words “bake” and “brake,” only one phoneme has been altered, but a change in meaning has been triggered. The phoneme /r/ has no meaning on its own, but by appearing in the word it has completely changed the word’s meaning!

Phonemes correspond to the sounds of the alphabet, although there is not always a one-to-one relationship between a letter and a phoneme (the sound made when you say the word). For example, the word “dog” has three phonemes: /d/, /o/, and / g /. However, the word “shape,” despite having five letters, has only three phonemes: /sh/, /long-a/, and /p/. The English language has approximately 45 different phonemes, which correspond to letters or combinations of letters. Through the process of segmentation, a phoneme can have a particular pronunciation in one word and a slightly different pronunciation in another.

Morphemes

Morphemes, the basic unit of morphology, are the smallest meaningful unit of language. Thus, a morpheme is a series of phonemes that has a special meaning. If a morpheme is altered in any way, the entire meaning of the word can be changed. Some morphemes are individual words (such as “eat” or “water”). These are known as free morphemes because they can exist on their own. Other morphemes are prefixes, suffixes, or other linguistic pieces that aren’t full words on their own but do affect meaning (such as  the “-s” at the end of “cats” or the “re-” at the beginning of “redo.”) Because these morphemes must be attached to another word to have meaning, they are called bound morphemes.

Within the category of bound morphemes, there are two additional subtypes: derivational and inflectional. Derivational morphemes change the meaning or part of speech of a word when they are used together. For example, the word “sad” changes from an adjective to a noun when “-ness” (sadness) is added to it. “Action” changes in meaning when the morpheme “re-” is added to it, creating the word “reaction.” Inflectional morphemes modify either the tense of a verb or the number value of a noun; for example, when you add an “-s” to “cat,” the number of cats changes from one to more than one.

Lexemes

Lexemes are the set of inflected forms taken by a single word. For example, members of the lexeme RUN include “run” (the uninflected form), “running” (inflected form), and “ran.” This lexeme excludes “runner (a derived term—it has a derivational morpheme attached).

Another way to think about lexemes is that they are the set of words that would be included under one entry in the dictionary—” running” and “ran” would be found under “run,” but “runner” would not.

Syntax

Syntax is a set of rules for constructing full sentences out of words and phrases. Every language has a different set of syntactic rules, but all languages have some form of syntax. In English, the smallest form of a sentence is a noun phrase (which might just be a noun or a pronoun) and a verb phrase (which may be a single verb). Adjectives and adverbs can be added to the sentence to provide further meaning. Word order matters in English, although in some languages, order is of less importance. For example, the English sentences “The baby ate the carrot” and “The carrot ate the baby” do not mean the same thing, even though they contain the exact same words. In languages like Finnish, word order doesn’t matter for general meaning—different word orders are used to emphasize different parts of the sentence.

Context

Context is how everything within language works together to convey a particular meaning. Context includes tone of voice, body language, and the words being used. Depending on how a person says something, holds his or her body, or emphasizes certain points of a sentence, a variety of different messages can be conveyed. For example, the word “awesome,” when said with a big smile, means the person is excited about a situation. “Awesome,” said with crossed arms, rolled eyes, and a sarcastic tone, means the person is not thrilled with the situation.

The Functions of Communication

THE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE

Functions of Language

  • Instrumental Function – Helps you get what you want to express your needs.  For example: “I’d like a piece of pepperoni pizza, please.”
  • Regulatory Function – Control the actions of others.  Please line up in an orderly fashion.”
  • Informative Function – Provide information to others. For example: Giving directions to a passerby.
  • Persuasive Function – Change someone’s views. For example A campaign ad or a political debate.
  • Relational Function – To establish, define and maintain relationships. Example: Small talk Imaginative Function – To delight or entertainer the speaker and/or listener. Example: Reciting poetry or singing songs. Ritualistic Function – To meet a social convention. Example: Praying in church or delivering a commencement address. Expressive Function – To state personal feelings, attitudes, or thoughts. Example: “I love that you always think of me.” Interpretative Functions Control function Remembering and Thinking Social Functions Creative Functions.

Function # 1. Expressive and Communicative Functions:

The most basic function of language as we can guess is that of the expressive function, an attempt to express a sudden change of state, fear, delight, pain or confusion. Whatever it is, such an expression is not a deliberate, conscious expression, but a spontaneous, immediate response not directed towards any other object.Incidentally, in many cases this also serves as a communication to other members of the group or species, particularly in situations of danger. Most probably, these functions are automatic instinctual functions and found in lower organisms also. However, at the human level, the communicative role assumes more crucial importance

Function # 2. Interpretative Functions:

It may be seen that when a particular occurrence or expression serves as a stimulus to others it also serves a function of becoming aware of interpreting a particular situation. Thus, the cry of one animal in the face of danger is interpreted by other members of the species. The interpretative function is very obvious at the human level. The interpretative function serves to restore a state of cognitive equilibrium. While the stimulus itself creates a condition of uncertainty or novelty, the interpretation serves to clarify the situation and restore the equilibrium. Such an interpretation helps to place the information in an appropriate position or slot in one’s cognitive world.

Thus, when an offspring gets separated from the mother and suddenly finds her again the sound that may be made is different from the one that would have been made if a strange animal is seen. The sounds on the two occasions may be phonetically similar, but there is a difference in the meanings of the two sounds meaning in a very elementary sense.

One may question whether one can attribute qualities like meaning, cognition, etc. to animals. But one may also ask why not? Human bigotry particularly, that of the social scientists have prevented them from being objective and honest. Thus, the second major function of the language is to help the organism to interpret and organize cognitive experiences and position them in one’s cognitive world.

Function # 3. Control Function:

When one talks of the function of control, there emerges a social dimension apart from the individual dimension. Gradually, as associations get established between certain states of existence and a stimulus on the one hand and certain sounds, there results in reproducibility of a reaction. Thus, the child cries when he is hungry or suffering from pain. This cry, in turn, makes the mother, or even the animal mother to rush and help. Here is the beginning of control.

The cry brings the mother’s attention and hope, and in later years the attention of those who are dear and close and those who are in a position to support. This is the first experience of mastering the environment and ability to control. Here it may be seen that at simple levels, this control function may not be deliberate and conscious, but as one grows and the environment becomes more organized, the control function of language becomes more and more central.

All of us feel comfortable to talk to a person if we know his name. Whenever we meet a familiar face, we feel comfortable if we can remember his name. The importance of words, slogans, and ‘clarion calls’ in controlling the people and mob is too well-known to need any extensive discussion.

Function # 4. The Functions of Remembering and Thinking:

Imagine our being able to think and remember without the use of words. It is almost impossible to recall or remember or think without the use of words and therefore, language. It is language, which helps us to encode experiences, store them and retrieve and decode. It is language, which helps us to translate experiences into thought and engage in processes of different types.

Function # 5. The Discovery of One’s Name:

One of the important milestones in the development of the child is the discovery that he or she has a name and, this is the beginning of the sense of self- identity which leads to feelings like me, mine, others, not me, etc. The discovery of one’s name plays a very crucial role in the overall psychological development of the individual.

It is the beginning of self-identity, and an attempt to look at oneself as an object. It is this which essentially makes for a difference between the human organism and the non-human organism and between a very young child and an adult and mentally disturbed adult.

This issue of formation of self-concept and self-identity has been examined in greater detail elsewhere but the important point to remember is the very critical role played by language in the development of the self and overall psychological development.

Function # 6. Social Functions of Language:

In addition to these individual functions, language performs a very impor­tant social function. While promoting a sense of personal identity language also serves to develop a sense of social identity, a sense of belongingness to a particular group, marking out different degrees of social proximity and distance.

All of us belong to social groups speaking the same language. Similarly, the national anthem which is nothing but a set of words creates and maintains a sense of social identity. However, sometimes, this sense of social identity if it is very narrow, can result in social conflicts and confrontations between different groups.

Function # 7. Creative Functions:

Language plays a very crucial role in imaginative and creative activity. Is it possible to think of writing a novel or poetry without language? Language, then not only helps us to control and regulate our cognitions but also enables us to break free and engage in creative imagination. Here again, paradoxically, language also contributes to the emergence of very ‘creative’ delusions and belief systems in the mentally ill.

On the whole, one can see the very critical and crucial role played ‘by language in our life. It is perhaps, impossible to think of any place or situation in life where one can function without the help of language. Apart from the common functions of expression and communication, the psychological and social functions played by language are very crucial and are becoming more and more important in today’s world.

This discussion of the functions of languages is rather brief and has been attempted only to highlight the major functions. Perhaps, one can highlight many more functions of language. No wonder, freedom of speech is regarded as the most fundamental right.

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Functions of Communication

THE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE

Functions of Language

    • Instrumental Function – Helps you get what you want to express your needs.  For example: “I’d like a piece of pepperoni pizza, please.”
    • Regulatory Function – Control the actions of others.  Please line up in an orderly fashion.”
    • Informative Function – Provide information to others. For example: Giving directions to a passerby.
    • Persuasive Function – Change someone’s views. For example A campaign ad or a political debate.
    • Relational Function – To establish, define and maintain relationships. Example: Small talk
    • Imaginative Function – To delight or entertainer the speaker and/or listener. Example: Reciting poetry or singing songs.
    • Ritualistic Function – To meet a social convention. Example: Praying in church or delivering a commencement address.
    • Expressive Function – To state personal feelings, attitudes, or thoughts. Example: “I love that you always think of me.”
    • Interpretative Functions
    • Control function
    • Remembering and Thinking
    • Social Functions
    • Creative Functions.

Function # 1. Expressive and Communicative Functions:

The most basic function of language as we can guess is that of the expressive function, an attempt to express a sudden change of state, fear, delight, pain or confusion. Whatever it is, such an expression is not a deliberate, conscious expression, but a spontaneous, immediate response not directed towards any other object.Incidentally, in many cases this also serves as a communication to other members of the group or species, particularly in situations of danger. Most probably, these functions are automatic instinctual functions and found in lower organisms also. However, at the human level, the communicative role assumes more crucial importance

Function # 2. Interpretative Functions:

It may be seen that when a particular occurrence or expression serves as a stimulus to others it also serves a function of becoming aware of interpreting a particular situation. Thus, the cry of one animal in the face of danger is interpreted by other members of the species. The interpretative function is very obvious at the human level. The interpretative function serves to restore a state of cognitive equilibrium. While the stimulus itself creates a condition of uncertainty or novelty, the interpretation serves to clarify the situation and restore the equilibrium. Such an interpretation helps to place the information in an appropriate position or slot in one’s cognitive world.

Thus, when an offspring gets separated from the mother and suddenly finds her again the sound that may be made is different from the one that would have been made if a strange animal is seen. The sounds on the two occasions may be phonetically similar, but there is a difference in the meanings of the two sounds meaning in a very elementary sense.

One may question whether one can attribute qualities like meaning, cognition, etc. to animals. But one may also ask why not? Human bigotry particularly, that of the social scientists have prevented them from being objective and honest. Thus, the second major function of the language is to help the organism to interpret and organize cognitive experiences and position them in one’s cognitive world.

Function # 3. Control Function:

When one talks of the function of control, there emerges a social dimension apart from the individual dimension. Gradually, as associations get established between certain states of existence and a stimulus on the one hand and certain sounds, there results in reproducibility of a reaction. Thus, the child cries when he is hungry or suffering from pain. This cry, in turn, makes the mother, or even the animal mother to rush and help. Here is the beginning of control.

The cry brings the mother’s attention and hope, and in later years the attention of those who are dear and close and those who are in a position to support. This is the first experience of mastering the environment and ability to control. Here it may be seen that at simple levels, this control function may not be deliberate and conscious, but as one grows and the environment becomes more organized, the control function of language becomes more and more central.

All of us feel comfortable to talk to a person if we know his name. Whenever we meet a familiar face, we feel comfortable if we can remember his name. The importance of words, slogans, and ‘clarion calls’ in controlling the people and mob is too well-known to need any extensive discussion.

Function # 4. The Functions of Remembering and Thinking:

Imagine our being able to think and remember without the use of words. It is almost impossible to recall or remember or think without the use of words and therefore, language. It is language, which helps us to encode experiences, store them and retrieve and decode. It is language, which helps us to translate experiences into thought and engage in processes of different types.

Function # 5. The Discovery of One’s Name:

One of the important milestones in the development of the child is the discovery that he or she has a name and, this is the beginning of the sense of self- identity which leads to feelings like me, mine, others, not me, etc. The discovery of one’s name plays a very crucial role in the overall psychological development of the individual.

It is the beginning of self-identity, and an attempt to look at oneself as an object. It is this which essentially makes for a difference between the human organism and the non-human organism and between a very young child and an adult and mentally disturbed adult.

This issue of formation of self-concept and self-identity has been examined in greater detail elsewhere but the important point to remember is the very critical role played by language in the development of the self and overall psychological development.

Function # 6. Social Functions of Language:

In addition to these individual functions, language performs a very impor­tant social function. While promoting a sense of personal identity language also serves to develop a sense of social identity, a sense of belongingness to a particular group, marking out different degrees of social proximity and distance.

All of us belong to social groups speaking the same language. Similarly, the national anthem which is nothing but a set of words creates and maintains a sense of social identity. However, sometimes, this sense of social identity if it is very narrow, can result in social conflicts and confrontations between different groups.

Function # 7. Creative Functions:

Language plays a very crucial role in imaginative and creative activity. Is it possible to think of writing a novel or poetry without language? Language, then not only helps us to control and regulate our cognitions but also enables us to break free and engage in creative imagination. Here again, paradoxically, language also contributes to the emergence of very ‘creative’ delusions and belief systems in the mentally ill.

On the whole, one can see the very critical and crucial role played ‘by language in our life. It is perhaps, impossible to think of any place or situation in life where one can function without the help of language. Apart from the common functions of expression and communication, the psychological and social functions played by language are very crucial and are becoming more and more important in today’s world.

This discussion of the functions of languages is rather brief and has been attempted only to highlight the major functions. Perhaps, one can highlight many more functions of language. No wonder, freedom of speech is regarded as the most fundamental right.

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