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How Language Can Be Used or Abused in Persuasion Essay

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Updated: Nov 29th, 2019

Introduction

This summary focuses on how language can be used or abused in persuasion. To achieve this task, three different articles from the unit covered are analyzed. These articles are How to Detect Propaganda by The Institute for Propaganda Analysis, Selection, Slanting, & Charged Language by Birk and Genevieve, and Doubts about Doublespeak by William Lutz.

Through this analysis, the techniques used by authors and speakers to control the effects of the message they are delivering, the pros and cons of these kinds of techniques, and the meaning of these messages for the listener or reader are illustrated.

How to detect propaganda

In this article, several techniques of how language can be used or abused in persuasion through propaganda have been highlighted (“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis” 1). The author analyses seven common techniques used by individuals to bend the truth and minds of other individuals for political reasons.

The techniques identified by the author are name calling approach, glittering general approach, testimonial approach, plain folk’s approach, card-stacking approach, and the bandwagon approach. I believe that listeners can be able to differentiate between propaganda and facts from authors or speakers’ words if they can recognize these techniques. Using these techniques, authors and speakers manage to control the effects of the message they are delivering.

Through name calling techniques, listeners or readers can come up with judgments on the messages delivered to them without examining the evidence behind them. With the use of the technique, a propagandist can appeal to the listeners or readers’ hatred and fright (“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis” 2). This is achieved by branding horrible names on those individuals, ethnic communities, religions, or races the propagandist wishes us to condemn. This technique can fuel animosity between individuals, ethnic communities, nationalities, and races. As such, rogue politicians and warlords use this technique to trigger animosity between different communities.

Another technique highlighted in the article is glittering generalities (“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis”3). Through this technique, the propagandist classifies his or her program with the use of virtue words. By doing so, he or she captures the audience’s emotions of love, generosity, and goodwill.

As such, this technique makes them approve the message delivered to them without analyzing on the evidence. The disadvantage of this technique is that it may cause animosity against communities whenever applied by rogue individuals. For instance, if a certain community is portrayed using the word bad other communities will see evil in it. Through this, animosity may arise.

The transfer technique enables the propagandists to reschedule the power, permit, and status of something we admire for something he or she would have the audience believe. Testimonial technique allows the propagandist to make the audience believe in anything. Cigarette makers in their adverts exploit this technique.

Plain folks enable the propagandists who are normally the politicians, labor leaders, and businesspersons to win the audience’s trust by imitating their lifestyles. Usually, during election periods politicians emulate their voters’ behaviors and become closer to them than they are usually to win their confidence.

Through card stacking technique, the propagandist employs deceptive skills to win readers or listener’s efforts for his or her interests. Lastly, with the aid of the bandwagon technique a propagandist can make the audience follow a specific multitude. This technique was exploited during war times and peacetimes in the past. Currently, it plays a huge role in the marketing industry. I believe that all propaganda is bad since they utilize peoples’ emotions without their knowledge.

Selection, slanting, and charged language

In this article, the author emphasizes that authors and speakers should be aware of the words they use in their works because they indicate their personal feelings, values, and attitudes towards their subjects (Birk & Genevieve 1).

Equally as readers and listeners, we should be watchful to the slight authorities of charged language to avoid being vulnerable to these authors and speakers. In this article, Birk asserts that authors and speakers should understand the basic principles of selection, slanting, and charged language used to control the effects of the message they are delivering.

Concerning selection, Birk asserts that what we expressed either in words or in writings is influenced by the principle of selection. This implies that as we observe, the doctrine of selection decides what we internalize. Similarly, these processes determine what readers or audience will remember in the days to come. Therefore, speakers should understand their audience if they wish to control the effects of the message they are delivering, as the messages taken from one audience to another vary and may cause confusions.

The second process of selection mentioned by Birk is slanting. Birk asserts that after the selection process is done in our brains, slanting process may be commenced. According to the author, slanting is defined as the course of choosing facts, words, and accent to accomplish the objective of the communicator (Birk & Genevieve 3).

In the final part of this article, the author focuses on slanting and charged language (Birk & Genevieve 5). He describes charged language as the verbal communication used when slanting of facts, words, or emphasis affects a decision concerning a subject.

This technique is often used when one wants to express inner knowledge, feelings, or attitudes. According to Birk, the disadvantages associated with this approach are evidenced in dishonest propaganda published in some editorials or magazines often by politicians and effusive salespersons (Birk & Genevieve 5).

Birk suggests that despite its disadvantages, we should find a way of living with charged language because it shapes our attitudes and values. Equally, it gives direction to our actions. By so doing, we manage to set up and uphold our relations with other individuals. This implies that in the absence of charged language, life would be different and hectic (Birk & Genevieve 5).

Doubts about doublespeak

The article asserts that doublespeak is a verbal communication, which act as if converses but does not (Lutz 1). As such, it is a verbal communication that makes good seem bad and right seem left. This implies that doublespeak denies responsibility. In the article, Lutz highlights four techniques of doublespeak. These techniques can be employed by an author or speaker to change the meaning of the message he or she is delivering.

Through euphemism authors or speakers uses specific words and phrases in their speeches and writings to avoid the use of offensive words or reality. Through this technique, an author or speaker can mislead the targeted audience or readers. It should be noted that these specific words become euphemism when they are used with the sole intention of deceiving or misleading.

The advantages of these techniques are that it allows the speakers or authors to avoid embarrassing situations or mentioning offensive words, which might attract heated debates. The disadvantage of this technique is that its usage often leads to confusion among the listeners or readers.

Another technique mention by Lutz is jargon. Jargon is a language used by professionals among themselves (Lutz 3). The advantage of jargon is that it allows members of similar professionals to communicate with each other clearly, efficiently and secretly. Another advantage associated with this technique is that it gives their users a sense of belonging to their professions.

Lutz asserts that when a professional among non-professionals uses jargons, the words become doublespeak. A major disadvantage of this technique is that it makes non-users to feel rejected in a group. Similarly, many individuals perceive those using jargons to be having concealed schemes. The third technique mention by Lutz in the article is gobbledygook.

This method is achieved by overwhelming the audience with words that they can hardly comprehend. This technique is usually used in written materials. Gobbledygook words or phrases are usually overused that they have become uninteresting. However, for authors or speakers with the aim of confusing their audience or writers, gobbledygook will come in handy.

The fourth technique mentioned by Lutz in the article is inflated language (Lutz 4). This technique is normally used so that things may seem different from the way they are in the minds of the listeners or readers. These words are often used to impress the listeners and the readers into thinking that the author or the speaker is more educated than he is or she seems. However, when overused they lead to confusion among the readers or listeners.

Works Cited

Birk, Newman, and Genevieve Birk. “Selection, Slanting, & Charged Language.” mattskillen.com. Version 1. N.p., 8 Nov. 2012. Web. <mattskillen.com/attachments/article/127/Selection%20Slanting%20and%20Ch ged%20Language.pdf>.

Lutz, William . “Doubts About Doublespeak.” engcomp.wikispaces.com. Version 1. N.p., 10 July 2010. Web. <smcc engcomp.wikispaces.com/file/view/DoublespeakEss.pdf>.

The Institute for Propaganda Analysis. “How to Detect Propaganda.” myteacherpages.com . N.p., 26 June 2007. Web. <www.myteacherpages.com/webpages/rgunnar/files/How%20To%20Detect%2 Propaganda.pdf>.

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