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date: 16 January 2021

Jakobson’s model

A Dictionary of Media & Communication

Daniel Chandler,

Rod Munday

Jakobson’s model 

A linguistic model of interpersonal communication outlined in 1960 by Roman Jakobson. Drawing on work by Karl Bühler dating from the 1930s, he proposed a model of verbal communication which moved beyond basic transmission models, highlighting the importance of the codes and social contexts involved. He outlines what he regards as the six constitutive factors in any act of verbal communication: ‘The addresser sends a message to the addressee. To be operative the message requires a context referred to (‘referent’ in another, somewhat ambivalent, nomenclature), seizable by the addressee, and either verbal or capable of being verbalized, a code fully, or at least partially, common to the addresser and addressee (or in other words, to the encoder and decoder of the message); and finally, a contact, a physical channel and psychological connection between the addresser and the addressee, enabling both of them to stay in communication.’ Jakobson proposes that each of these six factors (addresser, message, context, contact, code, and addressee) determines a different linguistic function. His model demonstrates that messages and meanings cannot be isolated from contextual factors.