A Short note on I.A. Richards' Concept of Two Uses of Language



Write a short note on I. A. Richards' concept of two uses of language.

I.A. Richards is a prominent British critic and rhetorician. In his popular book The Meaning of Meaning he has introduced the concept of the ‘two uses of language.’ In this pioneer work on semantics he argues that language serves two primary functions- the ‘instrumental’ use and the ‘symbolic’ use.
Instrumental Use: The instrumental use of language refers to its practical and utilitarian purpose of conveying information or achieving specific goals. In this use, language acts as a tool for communication. It allows individuals to express their thoughts. It helps in conveying factual information. The instrumental use is predominantly concerned with the referential aspect of language. It aims to convey meaning accurately and unambiguously. It is instrumental in facilitating everyday interactions, conveying instructions and sharing knowledge.
Symbolic Use: The symbolic use of language focuses on the aesthetic and emotive aspects of communication. In this use, language goes beyond conveying factual information. It serves as a medium for expressing emotions, evoking imagery and creating aesthetic experiences. It is used to evoke subjective responses, to convey nuances and to shape perceptions. It is employed to convey deeper meanings and to evoke emotions.
Richards consider that for a comprehensive understanding of language it is essential to acknowledge both the uses of language mentioned above. While the instrumental use deals with conveying facts and information, the symbolic use allows for aesthetic appreciation and creative expression. By recognizing these dual functions Richards attempts to bridge the gap between the objective and subjective aspects of language. Thus, Richards' concept of the 'two uses of language' shows a significant influence on the field of linguistics, literary theory and rhetoric

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