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Umberto Eco

In a word: phatic

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a moderately obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar — another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:


Language carries a good deal more than mere raw information. The way you speak and write gives indications of your origins, education, and social class. And some exchanges carry little or no raw information at all.

Phatic (pronounced FAT-ik) language exists for social interaction rather than the exchange of information. In the Malinowski-Ogden-Richards Meaning of...