Monday, June 27, 2016

phatics and the nature of the firm

It occurred to me when I was attending a talk by John Kay about "rents" in the creative sector that transaction costs are somewhat related to phatics. 

Consider the traditional roles in publishing: there's the AUTHOR, there's the PUBLISHER, and the DISTRIBUTOR.  At each step, AUTHOR->PUBLISHER and PUBLISHER->DISTRIBUTOR, DISTRIBUTOR->READER there is some transaction cost, e.g. traditionally the author has to send out letters to lots of different publishers looking for someone who will take on the manuscript, and that's a lot of work.  So, we introduce some "optimizations" and further roles, e.g. the AUTHOR might hire an AGENT who will intermediate with publishers.

Any one of these roles or connections might have some phatic dimension, but the AGENT in particular is someone who "speaks on behalf" of the author.

Coase's theory of the firm is basically that corporate bodies come into existence in order to optimize, so that rather than dealing with lots of distributed connections with external agents, they can just go "down the hallway" and talk with a colleague.  There are trade-offs here, of course, so firms don't grow beyond a certain point -- if the transaction costs with a sector are cheap, there's no reason to add that department.   Again, the corporate body seems a bit similar to the conversational space or the "phatic architecture" that allows that space to exist.

Benkler's paper "Coase's Penguin, or Linux and the Nature of the Firm" takes some of the basic economics ideas and uses them to theorize open source software development, and "commons-based peer production" more broadly (a term introduced in this paper).  It'd be interesting to revisit those themes more fully from a phatics perspective.  This is just a "bookmark" reminder to come back to that again later.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

there are two (or more) kinds of people...

taste isn't just what you like (indie rock, H&M, PBR) but what you dislike (country music, Walmart, Budweiser). - from
Some interesting comments here about affinity groups.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"weaponized intertextuality"

screencap from
In this new generation of films
more and more
the intertextual manifests itself as
objects, people, or situations
specifically meant to trigger an emotional response in the viewer
I don’t think franchises and shared universes are bad by default
quite the opposite
at their best they build interpretive communities
and foster social bonds in an increasingly alienated world
the kind of intertextuality that we’re talking about
can reflect these good qualities
and when it’s done right
when it’s not a substitute
for strong characters and a good story
it can be funny
it can be amusingly subversive
and of course it can add to the drama
while still being exciting as hell.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Distinctions in function

I happened to just have re-typed a few pages from an old zoosemiotics issue of Semiotica when I read your latest comments. Both deal (in part) with bee dance, so I thought I'd share it here:

Wilden, Anthony 1972. Analog and Digital Communication: On the Relationship between Negation, Signification, and the Emergence of the Discrete Element. Semiotica 6(1): 50-82.

Distinctions in function. If we leave the computers from which the distinction was originally drawn and look at communication between organisms, it seems that man is the only organism to use both processes for communication with his peers. [Footnote 6: I would speak of analog thinking or knowing, for instance, as well as analog and digital communication. The analog would cover the emotive, the phatic, the conative, and the poetic; the digital, the cognitive and the metalingual. Phatic communion (Sebeok 1962) describes the main aspects of the symbolic function in Lévi-Strauss and Lacan (Wilden 1968),[1] both of which involve what I call analog exchange (Wilden 1970b).] He is moreover capable of using one mode in place of the other, for natural langugae and human communication are both digital and analog in both form and function. Formally, the poet may employ devices such as alliteration or onomatopoeia or association to make the digital elements on the page or in his reading into analogs or in order to evake analog sensations. Functionally, the politician can employ the analog context of his digital text to obscure or replace the text, as we have just seen in the television campaign for the 1970 elections. He may in other words be apparently conveying denotative information about issues and events when in fact he is actually talking about his relationship to his audience and their audience to the image and images he projects.[2] This is in essence the prime distinction between the function of the digital and that of the analog. The digital mode of language is denotative: it may talk about anything and does so in the language of objects, facts, events, and the like.[3] Its linguistic function is primarily the sharing of nameable information (in the non-technical sense); its overall function is the sharing or reproduction of patterns and structures (information in the technical sense). The analog on the other hand talks only about relationship.[4] In human communication there are often serious problems of translation between thet wo.
Analog communication thus accurately describes all that we know about animal communication, for we know of little, if anything, approaching denotation in the animal world. What rudimentary systems of food calls, danger calls, and so forth that do exist do not seem to involve anything beyond the level of the signal or the rudimentary sign, and it would be unnecessarily anthropomorphic to suggest that such and such a noise 'signifies' something when it is clear that it only signals something about the relationship of the animal calling to his environment and thence about his relationship to the receivers of his message.
The concept of the analog as communication about relationship is equivalent to Malinowski's phatic communion:[5] "a type of speech in which ties of union are created by a mere exchange" (quoted in Sebeok 1962: 434). Jakobson has suggested that the phatic function of language is the only one other species share with human beings[6] and that it is the first "verbal function" acquired by infants (ibid.). In the terminology of this essay, one would say that the phatic function long antedated verbal communication in ontogeny, and is more accurately to be described as analog. Verbalization and symbolization involve the digitalization of the analog, for the infant knows how to communicate with his sphincters and other orifices (Wilden 1968: 24) long before he comes to emit anything more than analog sounds.
No known animal communication is digital, although the complexity of dolphin communication and the whale's song offer intriguing possibilities for research into an area where the methodological assumption of a discontinuity between animal and man is necessarily contradicted by the continuum of reality. [Footnote 7: The epistemological necessity of mapping discontinuity onto continuity must be emphasized. Epistemology is a matter of where you draw the line; every logos deals with boundaries.[7] The same is true of any conceptual distinction: metaphor and metonymy, closed and open system, energy and information - and, of course, of the analog/digital line itself.] For example of the 'language' of the bees is instructive. (Von Frisch's discoveries have very recently been confirmed once more by American researchers.) No bee constructs a message out of or about another message (there is no metacommunication as is possible in digital communication), and the 'gestural language' involved requires vision (visual representations are analogs of what they represent). Moreover, no bee who has not flown the course to find the nectar can send the message 'about' where it is, no bee can tell where the nectar or the pollen will be, no bee can say where the nectar is not. It is significant that there are two sorts of dance and that the sense of smell (which is analog - cf. Sebeok 1967) is also involved. There are auditory elements also. The circular dance has the specific quality of analog communication: it simply says something about the dancing bees' relationship to the food near the hive,[8] but it cannot say there is no food there. The wagging dance uses a code as signals to point; it is a more complex analog message. In neither case is there a possibility of a methodological analysis into discrete elements similar to morphemes or phonemes, for the indications of distance in the wagging dance are frequencies, and relatively imprecise (cf. Sebeok 1962: 435).
Only if we anthropomorphize the bee can we be deluded into thinking that the report aspect of the dance (all messages being simultaneously reports on situations and commands to do something about them - McCulloch) is a statement, for the bees, of where the nectar is. The dance is a report about the dancing bee's relationship to the hive and to its needs, and a command to the other bees to put themselves into the same relationship.[9] The bees obtain the food, but nobody 'knows' where it is. Similarly, the cat who rubs against our leg when we open the refrigerator door is probably not saying anything like "I want some milk" or "Give me some milk", but something like a question or a proposition about a relation: "Will you put yourself into a mother relationship to me"? or better: "How about a mother trip together"? (Wilden 1972: 58-60)
  1. I have no idea what these main aspects of the symbolic function are, but it sounds like an interesting connection. Lévi-Strauss and Lacan are rarely mentioned in phatic studies.
  2. Ruesch similarly describes the metacommunication between a politician holding a stump speech and the audience, so that each utterance is a "test bubble" sent out to see how the audience responds.
  3. Lately I've been frilting with the idea that informative communication is denotative and speech in phatic communion is primarily connotative, but this connection has its hangups. Namely, speech in phatic communion can also denote. There is no real reason why it can't, e.g. when anthropologists talk about their research (Dell Hymes' illustration) or when colleagues in adjacent cubicles engage in informal chatter (Reder & Schwab's illustration). Moreover, Malinowski's own illustrations involve talking about something perfectly obvious - i.e. objects, facts, and events in the immediate vicinity. In short, the digital-analog distinction is not ideal.
  4. If the poetic function is an analog function then how does it talk only about relationship?
  5. Analog communication comparable to phatic communion only in a rather limited sense but more so with La Barre's phatic communication.
  6. Thanks to background-knowledge about Mowrer's work with talking birds, the claim that "the phatic function of language is the only one other species share with human beings" is incorrect both factually (humans and other animals can express emotions, direct the actions of others, etc.), and even according to Jakobson himself, whose phrasing says that it's the only function humans share with talking birds (not mammals), and only when the parrots speak with humans. Our phatic relations with other species are much more complex (even among other pets).
  7. I have a feeling that these pages consist of a paraphrase of that article by Gregory Bateson (1972[1966]) where he discusses communication about relationship (the mu-function).
  8. "Every logos deals with boundaries" is an awesome phrase, but aside from very complex semantic topics, I wouldn't know what to do with it.
  9. This is probably similar with humans and their institutions and organizations, even informal groupings ("Come join our book club."). That is, recommendations, suggestions, and advice contain a phatic component when it is related to the social field.

Friday, June 10, 2016

phatics in biosemiotics

from A Critical Companion to Zoosemiotics: People, Paths, Ideas, by Dario Martinelli, p. 79

Some quite illuminating quotes there.

Rather less believably:

And mind-bendingly:

glitch: science and aesthetic

erroneous output of phatica4

I've finally gotten around to doing some tangible work with computer poetry.  Very preliminary stuff: for this round of experiments, my programming contributions are mostly just "glue code".  (But isn't that concept itself at least mildly interesting?)

I've put a preprint/draft online, "X575: a renga writing program in its infancy".

Here's an example poem.  As my coauthor pointed out, "It asks for a lot of interpolation from the reader."

busied for pandas --
the maternity has born
a knack of aircraft

judges of today
nothing but number to bus
to his weatherman

defacing passing --
I went to a crude bearing
the nova of mobs

that pause in the prayer --
this humanitarian --
from the spongy cruise 

My only reason for selecting this particular example (which didn't make the cut for the paper) was that the reference to "the nova of mobs" is a completely inadvertent (well, everything here is inadvertent) reference to Burroughs's (1964) Nova express, and the cut-up method used/contained therein.

That only comes across for a reader with a bit of familiarity with Burroughs "lore" -- which I find to be an interesting glitch.  Burroughs himself writes about the way certain ideas in a cut-up piece of text will jump out to the reader.  Or, perhaps more accurately, the reader will pull those ideas out of the text.

It seems to me that these sorts of glitches put an author/reader/interactant in touch with the medium "more" than a more straightforward text would do.  In "Metaphatics Metaeverything" one of the interesting quotes is about call-in radio programs in Nepal, where, in my opinion, people enjoy "performing" an experience of being in touch with the medium.  So, we're considering not just ritualized exchanges, but also things like radio static or line noise as an important part of the ritual.

"Glitch" as a wider aesthetic seems quite similar.   It also reminds me of Freud's idea of the uncanny.

Perhaps in an evolution of the poetic ideas described in the "X575" paper we could start to home in on the features that make some particular effect glitchful or uncanny.  For example, if the generated text clearly picked a topic, and stuck with it, then it would come across as organized, orderly, explicative and so on.

In the conclusions of my current draft, I've proposed that if the computer explained what it was doing when it was writing a poem, then we could debug that.  As it is, it seems to be quite "random". 

I also drew on some quotes from Waugh on "The poetic function in the theory of Roman Jakobson" (...thanks for making these available by the way!) and I'm specifically interested by the ideas of "a hierarchy of signs ... of ascending complexity, but also one of ascending freedom or creativity," and the idea that a "poem provides its own `universe of discourse.'"

My thought is that these criteria pull in opposite directions: towards complexity, and towards coherence, respectively.  I wonder if these are somewhat encoded in the metafunctions κ and ς?

Update: Agamben, The End of the Poem: Studies in Poetics, p. 79.

Update 2:

"trobar," means "to find" or "to meet" in Catalan; from the Old Provençal trobar, from Vulgar Latin *tropāre, present active infinitive of *tropō, from Latin tropus.

Update 3:
Glitch: from the German word glitschen ("to slip").  20th Century English (US): "Glitches—a spaceman's word for irritating disturbances."
This reminds me of the Serrean idea of deviation:
We do not start out with a relation that is then disturbed or even interrupted; rather, "[t]he deviation is part of the thing itself, and perhaps it even produces the thing."  (Siegert & Winthrop-Young 2007: 32-33)
 Thinking in topological topographical terms, this reminds me of the idea of the "declivity" (downward slopingness) or more fundamentally the "curvature" of a surface:

Seamless topographical map pattern from

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Phaticity and the social field

As much as I enjoy older sources (1950-1960) in phatic studies, it turns out that later ones (1970-1980) are actually much more thorough and relevant for advancing phatic theories. Since you expressed interest in the topic of "social fields" (i.e. social systems in Ruesch, and "perspectives" in Morris, among several other equivalents), I thought I'd share this one individually, before sending you an updated version of "Not the current year in phatics".

Hörmann, Hans 1979. Psycholinguistics: An Introduction to Research and Theory. New York, etc.: Springer-Verlag.

Similar distinguishing characteristics can be noted in looking upon language as response. The speech event produced by an individual A is hardly ever the last link in a stimulus-response chain;[1] it is generally a directed response transmitted from A to B. The linguistic response is produced by A with the intention of making B react. In other words, a verbal response can only be regarded as the last link in a chain of events if the unit of observation is the individual. But the social nature of language demands the embedding of the speech event into a social field[2] which comprises a speaker and a hearer. The dynamic structure of this field arises from the fact "that the essentials of language reside in purpose.[3] Looked at teleologically, language is particularly powerful as a means of communication" (Révész 1946: 109). Freytag-Loeringhoff has described communication as the ontological locus of language.[4] If we want to understand language, he argues, we must inquire into the nature of interpersonal communication (1962: 240). (Hörmann 1979: 6-7)
  1. "A stimulus-response chain" is comparable to the mutual awareness and responsiveness that constitutes the communication system in Ruesch and Bateson's (1951a) theory. In their terms, the social field, or what they call the social matrix of communication, is constituted by networks of such "stimulus-response chains".
  2. The speech event is embedded in the social field, just like the interpersonal communication system (a dyad, a two-person conversation) is embedded in a network of (hierarchically) increasingly complex systems. The two communicators both belong to various groups, or may even be representatives of different societies or cultures. In an analogous perspective of the Tartu-Moscow school of semiotics, you and I constitute a small portal of contact (a "translation block") at the peripheries of two distinct cultures that happen to overlap in mutual codes and texts enough to make communication possible (enough in common) and stimulating (enough is different).
  3. Hörmann attributes the "dynamic structure" of the field to the purposive, teleological nature of language. This is an important aspect of general discussion about functional linguistics. It is especially relevant for understanding Malinowski, who uses the word "purpose" 4 times in his discussion of phatic communion, not to mention near-synonyms like "aim" and "goal". It's a conversation too lengthy to get into here, but what Hörmann seems to mean is that social organization is dynamic because the interpersonal relations that make it up depend in part by how we use our language, particularly for what purpose (i.e. whether you're calling your old friend because you miss your friend or because you need a favor - in short, speech acts have social consequences).
  4. That's a very nice short way to say that the code can only be found in the message. It's a discussion about the ontological status of language, especially problematic in relation with de Saussure (and possibly Wittgenstein), i.e. whether language as a "thing" is "inside our heads" or somewhere "out there" in the metaphysical ether. (One can invoke Plato's cave metaphor, if only because de Saussure observed Ancient Greek semiotics, including Plato.) In any case, the idea itself is enticing because it could lead to an exposition about the ontological status of human relations, and whether speech is the right medium to look for its manifestation; somewhere below he points out that it "appears in many different manifestations".
    • If communication is the ontological locus of language then culture is the epistemological locus of society.

The conceptualization of language as stimulus-response events, therefore, must always remain as just one among several approaches. This approach may be useful for the analysis of the manipulatory aspects of language,[1] which is one of its several functions, but one encounters difficulties if one tries to apply a rigorous S-R schema to the "manipulation of consciousness" through language. This approach becomes totally inadequate at the point where one's concern is directed toward what we call the transparency of language, i.e., the fact that we recognize the intended meaning of the speaker "beyond" just his vocal expression. But let us now return to the social field which was mentioned above. The social field in which speaker and hearer represent the two poles is characterized by certain lines of force. Speech as an event occurring in this field manifests the influence of these lines of force in various ways. While we initially discussed in very general terms the dynamics of the processes occurring between organism and environment, we shall now, in a parallel manner, but closer to language, discuss the social field as a language-forming structure.[2] In doing so, we will not treat language as a unitary substance[3] (cf. Cassirer [An Essay on Man] 1944: 129ff) but will attempt to analyze it from ever-changing perspectives in such a way that the totality of the various components will reveal the functional unity of language.[4] (Hörmann 1979: 7)
  1. "The manipulatory aspects of language", if they constitute a function among several, is probably an equivalent of the directive, conative, appelative, impressive, commanding function (i.e. using language to make the Other do something).
  2. The social field is as much a language-forming structure as language is a social field-forming structure. Or: the social system and its sign systems are mutually constitutive.
  3. Cassirer's argument is unsurprisingly similar to Jakobson's. Cassirer's erudition about structuralist thought extended into past centuries and various fields of research (cf. his "Structuralism in Modern Linguistics", which he wrote for Jakobson's structuralist journal, Word in 1945 when they were both staying at New York after emigration).
  4. The core argument, which Jakobson himself rephrases numerous times throughout his lifetime, is that language is a system of systems, that it contains subcodes that pertain to certain features of the communication situation and operates in particular modes ("functions"). And yet despite the wealth of slang, jargon, dialects, and special codes, registers, terminologies, and nomenclatures, language forms a unitary thing, a structural-functional whole.

One line of force which marks this field is relatively simple:[1] it is the social contact between the "I" and "thou" in its quite primitive form.[2] Speech as contact-sound is, according to Révész, the first and lowest stage of linguistic evolution.[3] The contact-sound repeats, as it were, the most reassuring of messages, which says, "Here too is someone."[4] and thus maintains a social bond.
We operate with Révész' concepts, not because we believe language has developed according to the sequences which Révész proposed, but because these notions - outside their evolutionary context - are convenient in making apparent the forces at work[5] to which a language, even at its most advanced level, is subjected.
The first and most simple line of force in the social field appears in many different manifestations.[6] It occurs, in the animal kingdom, well below the mammals, e.g., in the cry of wild geese on the wing.[7] It ranges from the phatic communion - as Malinowski (see Ogden & Richards 1923) has called the vocal utterance which serve to establish social relations - to the highly stylized forms of social conversation, where talk occurs because it would be rude to be silent. Hayakawa calls the prevention of silence an important function of speech[8] (1949: 72). (Hörmann 1979: 7-8)
  1. This chimes well with the "simplicity" of phatic communion. It's such "a widespread intuitive perception" (Mounin 1985: 63) that I even stumbled upon a quote (which I can't currently find) saying that it doesn't take any kind of acamedic education to understand and bring out unique illustrations of phatic communion. This is probably partly why there are so many different phatics.
  2. I found out that Annette Holba is not the only one who has included Martin Buber in a discussion of phatic communication. Keller (1973: 4) quotes Buber to say that in phatic communion, "each regards himself as absolute and legitimate and the other as relativized and questionable", hooking up with the topic of the "share of social pleasure and self-enhancement" (PC 5.5).
  3. The animal contact-call and its relation to phatic communication and the origin of language was already treated by Weston La Barre, Edward Sapir, Otto Jespersen, and quite a number of others.
  4. "Here too is someone" type of reassurance falls into the "humanizing" function of phatic communion that some anthropologists emphasize: meeting "the normal requirements of decency and courtesy" to signal being "members in a common humanity" (Wilson 1979: 83); so that phatic communion is understood as "a biological necessity for human beings living-in-the-world with other human beings" (Holba 2008: 37) or as "the expression of some degree of sociability towards others, even the constitution of a modest sense of human solidarity" (Peace 2013: 100). I think it can be attributed to sociability being "one of the bedrock aspects of man's nature in society" (PC 3.1).
  5. Malinowski's concept, likewise, is a "convenient" designator, but not many care for its precise designata. It, too, can be used for dissecting the social nature of human beings, including aspects of power, manipulation, rhetoric, territoriality, etc.
  6. There are "many different manifestations" of phaticity, too. Too many, it would appear, to count.
  7. The best quote on the matter of phatic communion in the animal kingdom is coincidentally also one of the earliest I've found: "The communal croaking of frogs, for example, is an evidence of unthinking satisfaction in merely being alive" (Goldberg 1938: 59)
  8. Hayakawa understood phatic communion as
    speech which is uttered merely to avoid embarrassing silences [or a kind of] conventional social conversation [that] has an affective rather than an informative character, and may therefore be classified as presymbolic. "Every social group has its own form of this kind of talking", says Hayakawa." (dno 1959: 43)

Close to the line of force represented by the undirected primitive contact-call, the social field in which speech events occur carries another similar line of force. To make it evident, we adopt Hayakawa's presentation. According to Hayakawa, a community or a social group is a network of "mutual agreements." (Hörmann 1979: 8)
  • The topic of "mutual agreements" even made it into La Barre's section of the Wikipedia, where it is not strictly necessary, in the form of "social contract". The relation between social contact and social contract was also treated by Blanco (2010: 3). The terms "mutual" and "agreements" are very prevalent in Ruesch (1951b):
    A social situation is established[1] as soon as an exchange of communication takes place; and such exchange begins with the moment in which the actions of the other individual are perceived as responses — that is, as evoked by the sender's message and therefore as comments upon that message,[2] giving the sender an opportunity of judging what the message meant to the receiver.[3] Such communication about communication[4] is no doubt difficult, because it is usually implicit rather than explicit,[5] but it must be present if an exchange of messages is to take place. The perception of the perception, as we might call this phenomenon, is the sign that a silent agreement has been reached by the participants, to the effect that mutual influence is to be expected.[6] (Ruesch 1951b: 23)
    1. The social situation can be established by the homo loquens by "The breaking of silence, the communion of words is the first act to establish links of fellowship" (PC 4.5). Communication implies reciprocity, which Malinowski said "is established by the change of rôles" (PC 5.6) between the speaker and the listener. It could even be that the social pleasure of this give-and-take is what "serves to establish bonds of personal union between people" (PC 9.1). This is supported by the now obsolete etymological significations of the word community, particularly "common possession or enjoyment; participation". The etymologies Greek φατός and Latin comoenus make it an ambivalent, strongly supported by several valencies of connotation. For example, if you combine Greek "to speak" and Latin significations of mūnus, you can get "public speech", "speech exchange" and "shared speech" but also more complicated associations like a "duty to speak", i.e. conversation as a public service, spectacle or show that can be seen as a burden or obligation; or the idiom, "gift of gab", i.e. the ability to speak easily, fluently, persuasively, and confidently, in a way that can make people listen even if they don't care for what is spoken about.
    2. Although the concept of "comment" embodies the meta- in "metacommunication", both the concept and the signifier have been used in phatic studies. The Latin comminisci means "to invert", and this is exactly how David Abercrombie defines the comment as "the repetition of the verb and subject of the original sentence", often with a "verb-subject inversion", e.g. 'This is a good book.' and 'Is it?.', 'What nasty weather we're having.' and ''Are we?.' (Abercrombie 1956: 58-59). In modern linguistics this linguistic use is similar to the type of phatic pragmatic marker called the appealer, e.g. eh?, okay?, right? yeah?, innit? (Stenström 2014: 34-35). Many more such instances could be found in cross-linguistic language studies. "This no doubt varies greatly with the national character but remains true as a general rule." (PC 4.4)
    3. Another important notion is that of MUTUALITY. All assumptions which are manifest to an individual make up that individual's COGNITIVE ENVIRONMENT. The set of all assumptions that are manifest to two individuals is their SHARED COGNITIVE ENVIRONMENT. (Žegarac & Clark 1999: 324)
    4. "Communication about communication" here means metacommunication. A great portion of written communication is about confirming mutual understandings, letting the other know that their ideas were taken up. In face-to-face communication, on the other hand, there are several simultaneous channels of communication. The process of confirmation can be embodied in a short comment (e.g. okay, uhuh, yeat, etc.) but also with facial expressions, hand gestures, or bodily actions. "Implicit" in Ruesch's use here gave Albert Mehrabian the idea of calling nonverbal communication "implicit communication" (Mehrabian was short-sighted in many regards).
    5. But an assumption may be manifest to a number of people, without the fact that it is manifest to all of them being itself manifest. In other words, assumptions may be MANIFEST without being MUTUALLY MANIFEST. (Žegarac & Clark 1999: 324)
      That is, to evaluate whether the participants in the communication situation have a shared understanding of what they are doing or talking about. These may in fact also be distinguished, as according to one anthropologist writing about social and cultural signs and symbols, people tend to have a shared action environment before a shared cognitive environment:
      The understanding of their field of behavior in terms of the meanings available to them are different for those in dominant as against those in subordinant positions. For these and toher reasons persons who agree to interact and orient their behavior one towards another may yet evidence substantial lack of agreement about the meanings of the symbols manipulated in that interaction. We find men agreeing to interact - agreeing to coexist - even though they, in effect and to various degrees disagree about much of the meaning of that interaction. (Fernandez 1965: 917)
    6. Since the theory of metacommunication applies on animal communication as well as human communication, it covers mutual perception of perception rather than mutual acknowledgement of acknowledgement, as would be the case with verbal greetings.

Being in vocal contact with one another is not insignificant; it has affective meaning. The emotional charge of the sound turns a mere sound into a call which moves the listener to establish or demonstrate the "mutual agreements" which, according to Hayakawa, are the framework of society. (Hörmann 1979: 8)
  • The conflation of phatic and expressive functions has been a constant issue in phatic studies. It has to do with one of the paradoxical functional negations: "language does not function here as a means of transmission of thought" (PC 6.5), nor does it have anything to do "with the purpose of what [the speaker and hearer] are doing" (PC 1.4), and "It would be even incorrect, I think, to say that such words serve the purpose of establishing a common sentiment, for this is usually absent from such current phrases of intercourse" (PC 2.2). Where the purpose of establishing a common sentiment "purports to exist, as in expressions of sympathy, it is avowedly suprious on one side" (PC 2.2; continued).
    Notice that the last one is conditional, and he does add that "all the types of social sentiments such as ambition, vanity, passion for power and wealth" are in some way "dependent upon and associated with" the tendency of humans to congregate and enjoy each other's company (PC 3.3), and he does say that "Each utterance is an act serving the direct aim of binding hearer to speaker by a tie of some social sentiment or other" (PC 7.8).
    So it's clear that there either: A) are inherent contradictions in Malinowski's own ideas about phatic communion; or B) these remarks pertain to different aspects of phatic communion and no-one has yet attempted to clearly distinguish them. This, I believe, needs to be done. I cannot rely on Hayakawa because his book is not online (Google Books has neither preview nor snippets), but I may not need to, because La Barre and Ruesch can do the trick.

  • The sixth question inquires into the method of metacommunication, which indicates the interpretive devices used[1] in the exchange of messages, explicit instructions, implicit instructions contained in role assumption,[2] reference to context of the situation,[3] rules,[3.1] sequences,[3.2] patterning.[3.3] Metacommunication has to be separated into the giving of instructions[4.a] and the interpretation of instructions.[4.b] If you enter a store as an automobile buyer, you are treated quite differently from the way you would be treated if you let it be known that you are a seller of an old jallopy. Under the rubric of metacommunication come all the emotional factors.[5] When we talk with someone else, we evaluate the state of his or her organism, his tension, irritability, kindness and patience[6] - all factors that bear upon the interpretation of messages. (Ruesch 1956a: 47)
    1. Malinowski said that "The stranger who cannot speak the language is to all savage tribesmen a natural enemy" (PC 4.2). The silent stranger is alarming and dangerous. Quiet, reserved, and uncommunicative people are often viewed as unfriendly or unpersonable. In order to get over the feeling of unpleasant tension when confronting a stranger, people greet each other with conventionalized expressions, i.e. common phrases like "How are you?" or "How have you been?" to an acquaintance, "Can I do anything for you?" or "What can I help you with?" to an approaching stranger, or even "Is anyone here?" to a dark backalley when aroused by crepitation (body sounds).
      Jurgen Ruesch's definition of metacommunication includes a consideration of communicating about the codification of communication (which surpasses mere metalingual operations by a margin of the totality of nonverbal means of influencing the interpretation of verbal utterances) as well as communication about the communicative relationship, such as greeting someone with an utterance idiosyncratic to the relationship, demonstrating interpersonal closeness through the amount and intensity of interaction, and the emotive leakage of feelings about the situation. When these aspects are self-referentially discussed in a social situation they become implicit indices about the interpretive devices available to the particiants. As Fernandez (1965: 917) points out, there may be an evident lack of substantial agreement about the meanings of symbols used in the situation.
      Different groups and communities have different means of producing rapport. A sense of togetherness is often stimulated by common expressions and patterns of behaviour.
    2. According to Ruesch's theory, messages contain implicit metacommunicative instructions about the role of the sender and receiver. Roles may be verbally designated or explicit, "but among many peoples the great bulk of adult roles and skills are transmitted nonverbally" (Hymes 1971: 44). Phatic communion reportedly supports social integration and the existinc role structures (Kenny 1976: 116).
    3. Phatic communion is not devoid of references to the context or the definition of the situation. Even a semantically "anemic" interaction of passing greetings is conditioned by culturally dynamic rules, sequences, and patterning.
      1. Rules.
      2. Sequences.
      3. Patterning.
    4. On the part of the receiver there is an interpretation which depends upon the instructions of the sender.
      1. The sanding/giving of instructions is partly expressive/emotive.
      2. The receiving/interpretation of instructions is partly impressive/conative.
    5. Here metacommunication accounts for emotive information.
      Parsons adds immediately after that "no symbol in human communication is ever purely cognitive. It is always both cognitive and expressive at the same time."
    6. "If somebody is very tense, then the other person might try to pick up all the other signals that are being transmitted in search for clues that might help him to interpret this tension" (Ruesch 1956a: 48). Notice that it's not exactly emotive in that the tense person is not intentionally communicating tension. It's on the receiver's side, meaning that it's more pragmatic than semantic.

Now two things which are of importance for our later discussions become clear: Language does not develop within a vacuum, it does not develop or function as a tabula rasa. It arises from a broad basis of nonverbal communication that supports it and with which it is totally integrated. Communication, information exchange, and mutual manipulation by individuals are "older" than verbal communication, verbal information exchange, and manipulation by means of language. (Hörmann 1979: 8)
Also already written about in La Barre's section of the Wikipedia/Article.
Furthermore, speech is more than an exchange of information; for example, a question can be moret han, or different from, a request for factual knowledge. It may well be an attempt to seek confirmation, to be assured of the mutual agreement and thus to orient oneself with regard to one's own place in a social situation. Like Hayakawa, Glint writes in an essay devoted tot his function of language, "The effect on talk among two or more persons is that it interposes between them values which are already held in common or have yet to be accepted. In this way, it is not only that objects or phenomena find their place and are related to people but lines of thought are drawn between persons like streamers stretched from one to another" (Glint 1959: 104). (Hörmann 1979: 8)
Mutual agreements meet communization (to be written about in the Wikipedia/Article.
The manifestations of this line of force range from the hailing-call (Zuruf), which Révész considers to be the second stage of language above the contact-sound, to the postsymbolic use of words which are no longer intended to transmit information but "merely" serve the ritualized communion of social contact. Between these extremes is the area of social manipulation through language. (Hörmann 1979: 8)
Post-symbolicity compares to Morris' post-language symbols, and La Barre's private emotional connotations. Hailing-calls could be compared to Althusser's interpellation (will have to check if he relied on Jakobson's phatic function in any way shape or form, or if they are at least comparable). Also Wingate's (1988) discussion of propositionla content (transmission of information) and automatic, recitative expression (in religious or otherwise routinized/conventionalzed forms of communion).