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Functional Linguistics31913Functional LinguisticsROBERT D. VAN VALIN, JR1IntroductionIf one were to take an informal survey among non-linguists regarding theprim-ary function of human language, the overwhelmingly most common answerwould be, “language is used for communication.” This is the commonsenseviewof what language is for. It might, therefore, come as a surprise to many peoplethat some of the most prominent linguists in the field reject this view and thatmany others hold that the fact that language may be used for communica-tion is largely, if not completely, irrelevant to its study and analysis. Chomsky,for example, maintains that “human language is a system for free expres-sion of thought, essentially independent of stimulus control, need-satisfactionor instrumental purpose” (1980: 239), and rejects as a “vulgar, instrumental”view of language the idea that communication is a necessary or even signific-ant function of language (1975: 56–7, 1980: 229–30). Not all linguists shareCho...