Writing Functions 5: Function

Academic writing

Rhetorical functions in academic writing: Describing function


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The function of the skin

Each of the structures which comprise the skin has one or more functions, many of which play a vital role in maintaining good health. Those which may be affected in acne, eczema or psoriasis are also described in a little more detail.

A primary purpose of the skin is to provide a flexible, protective shield between us and the outside world. This is made possible by the layers of dead, flattened epithelial cells which prevent micro-organisms and chemicals from entering the body, and by the waterproofing effect of the keratin, fats and oils. These protective benefits would not last long, however, if skin cells were not replaced. This happens by a process of continuous cell division in the basal layer, nutrients being provided by the blood vessels in the papillary layer. As the cells move towards the outer surface, they lose their nuclei, gradually become keratinised, and die.

Linked with cell division is the process of wound healing. This involves the inward migration of cells such asfibroblastsand white blood cells, the release of special chemicals called growth factors that stimulate the repair process, and increased cell division of the epidermis to provide a new, intact surface layer. Redness and swelling around a wound indicates that the blood vessels are enlarged and ‘leaky’ – a reflection of inflammation and an immune response which contribute to the removal of dead and damaged tissue.

Temperature regulation is also an important activity of the skin. The large amounts of liquid lost during perspiration evaporate from the surface and cool it. Also, blood vessels open up to dissipate heat when you are overheated – hence the pink flush when you are warm – and contract when the body needs to conserve heat. Sweat also contains waste materials such as urea and up to 1 gramme of waste nitrogen may be lost through the skin every hour.

Skin also has a protective role in screening out potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun by manufacturing melanin pigments. However, UV is also involved in chemical reactions leading to the synthesis of vitamin D3 – vital for normal growth of teeth and bones and for the absorption of calcium from food. Blood and lymphatic vessels are more numerous in the hypodermis than in the dermis, showing that it plays a key role in defence against the penetration of foreign materials or pathogens. Its other functions are largely storage (fats), cushioning and attachment.

What are the functions of blood in dogs?

Each component of blood has very specialized and important functions.

  • Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is a red, iron-rich protein. Hemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Red blood cells give blood its color. When the blood is rich in oxygen it is red, and when there is little oxygen in the blood, the blood is blue. Because blood traveling from the lungs to the body usually contains lots of oxygen, blood in the arteries is normally red. Much of the oxygen is removed from the small capillaries by the body tissues, so blood in the veins tends to be blue in color.
  • The white blood cells defend the body against disease. They destroy bacteria and foreign material, they stimulate inflammation and assist in the healing process, and they produce proteins called antibodies that destroy bacteria, viruses, and other diseases. WBCs move in and out of the blood stream, depending upon where they are needed.
  • Platelets help the blood to clot. They group together to form clumps, plugging any holes that develop in blood vessels. Clumps of platelets form a scaffolding upon which a blood clot may form. Formation of a blood clot is a complicated process called coagulation.
  • Plasma is the watery material that carries all other components of the blood within the blood vessels. If water is lost through dehydration, wounds or burns, then the blood can become thickened, almost like sludge, and circulation will be adversely affected.

The function of schools

For Dewey education primarily involves interactions that empower the individual to take an active and intelligent part in social life. Pedagogy, on this account, must involve strategies and methods to emphasize power rather than appreciation; the “enlightened and trained capacity to carry forward those values which in other conditions and past times made those experiences worth having” rather than the empathic assimilation of others’ experiences. Schools must provide educative experience which will give the student such possession of him or herself that she or he may take charge of him or herself; may not only adapt him or herself to the changes which are going on, but have the power to shape and direct those changes. Dewey sees the educative function of schools in their capacities to provide those experiences, some of which are embodied in the occupations of work and play. There is a clear view in Dewey that these occupations serve a connective function; they do not preserve the past, but connect the past to the present and future of the child’s interests and activities.


I want to organize under five simple verbs my own reasons for thinking that the death penalty is a bad thing. If we catch a man who has committed a murder, try him and convict him, we have to do something more with him than punish him, because, although he must be punished, there are several other things that ought to happen to him. I think that the whole theory of what ought to be done to a convicted murderer can be summed up in the five verbs: prevent, reform, research, deter and avenge. Let me take these five things in turn and see how the death penalty now looks as a means of achieving them.

The first is ‘prevent’. By this I mean preventing the same man from doing it again, to check him in his career-though, of course, nobody makes a career of being a murderer, except the insane, who are not at issue in the question of the death penalty. I believe that I am right in saying that in the course of a century there is only one doubtful case of a convicted murderer, after his release at the end of a normal life sentence, committing another murder. I think that that means, statistically, that the released murderer is no more likely to murder again than anybody else is. The question of long sentences comes in here. If the sane convicted murderer is not to be hanged, should he be imprisoned, and should the length of his service be determined in a way not the usual one for the actual sentence served? I think this question can be answered only by looking at the statistics of how likely a man is to do it again. In other words, how likely a prison sentence for a given number of years, 15, 20 or 30 years, is to prevent him from doing it again. There is a wealth of statistics available to us on that. I do not think they suggest that the convicted murderer who is not hanged should have his prison sentence dealt with in any way differently from that in which prison sentences are usually dealt with.

To turn to the second verb on my list, ‘reform’. That is rather a nineteenth century word, and perhaps we should now say ‘rehabilitate’, stressing more the helping of a man with his social functions rather than adjusting his internal character; but that is a minor point. It is clear that, whatever we may think about what is able to be achieved in our prison system by treatment in the reformatory and rehabilitatory way – and it is open to criticism for lack of funds and so on-it is obvious that less can be achieved if you hang a man. One man who is utterly unreformable is a corpse; and hanging is out of the question, because you cannot achieve any form of reform or rehabilitation by it.

The next word is ‘research’. This is not part of the traditional idea of what to do with a convicted murderer. It is rather a new notion that it may be an appropriate purpose in detaining a criminal and inflicting punishment and other things upon him that research should be conducted into the criminal personality and the causes of crime. At the moment we hang only the sanest criminals. We can get all the research we want into the motives, characters and personality structures of those with diminished responsibility, the insane and those under an age to be hanged. But the one we cannot research into is the man who is sane and who commits capital murder in cold blood on purpose. It might be that if we were to keep this man alive and turn psychiatrists and other qualified persons on to talking to him for twenty years during his prison sentence we should find things that would enable us to take measures which would reduce the murder rate and save the lives of the victims. But in hanging these men we cut ourselves off from this possible source of knowledge of help to the victims of murder.

The fourth word, ‘deter’, is the crux of the whole thing. Abolitionists, as we all know, have held for many years that evidence from abroad has for long been conclusive that the capital penalty is not a uniquely effective deterrent against murder. Retentionists of the death penalty have been saying for years that we are not like those abroad; we are a different country economically; our national temperament is different; and there is this and that about us which is not so about those in Italy, Norway or certain States of the United States, New Zealand, India, or wherever it may be. Now we have this remarkable pamphlet which in effect closes that gap in the abolitionists’ argument. It shows within mortal certitude that we are exactly like those abroad, and that in this country the death penalty is not a uniquely effective deterrent against murder.

The last on the list of my five verbs is ‘avenge’. Here the death penalty is uniquely effective. If a man has taken life, the most effective, obvious and satisfying form of vengeance is to take his life. I have no argument against that. I think it is true that if one accepts vengeance as a purpose proper for the State in its handling of convicted criminals, then the death penalty should stay for convicted murderers. For myself – and it is only a personal matter – I utterly reject the idea that vengeance is a proper motive for the State in dealing with convicted criminals; and I hope that, from the date of the publication of this pamphlet onwards, those who wish to retain the death penalty will admit that its only merit is precisely that of vengeance.

(Lord Kennet from a Speech in the House of Lords, November 9th, 1961)


The thermostat controls the temperature.

The thermostat is used for controlling the temperature.

The function of the thermostat is to control the temperature.

The thermostat serves to control the temperature.

A thermostat is an instrument for measuring temperature.

A thermostat enables the researcher to measure the temperature accurately.

The function of advertising is to market products and services to potential buyers in an effective and persuasive manner

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