2 “Remember that all writing emerges from a situation—a convergence of a need to write, a writer, an audience, a subject matter, a purpose, a genre, and a time and place” (Roskelly and Jolliffe 57).Choice of diction depends upon the author’s message—keep the author’s claims in mind, and consider how the particular choices of types of diction and certain words help to convey those claims to the author’s intended audience.
3 “People choose styles to reflect themselves in their writing as well as in what they wear, and the style they choose expresses meaning. A particular clothing style or writing style can be appropriate in some situations and not in others. And, for all these reasons, stylistic choice in clothes and writing is, or can be, conscious. Conscious choice about stylistic decisions in writing can help writers reflect themselves, communicate meaning, and influence readers” (Roskelly and Jolliffe 57).
4 Diction is simply the particular words an author uses to convey meaning in a piece of writing. Latin; “Style of speech (or writing)”Diction is the fundamental ingredient in written communication; without words, there is no meaning!
5 “It depends on the concept of situational appropriateness…The question of whether a particular word, sentence, or figure of speech is right is a question of whether it is right for the particular writing situation” (Roskelly and Jolliffe 57).
6 Speaker: who is the speaker or author Speaker: who is the speaker or author? What persona does the speaker intend to convey? How does this word help to convey that persona? Why did the speaker choose this word over another?Audience: who is the audience? How is this word intended to affect that audience? What are we supposed to think or do as a result of the word?Purpose: what is the purpose(s) of the piece? How does the word(s) contribute to the purpose(s)?
7 1. Above all is connotation. 2. Level of diction 3 1. Above all is connotation. 2. Level of diction 3. Type of diction: abstract and concrete 4. Sound quality of diction: occasionally euphony and cacophony (only if you are sure you can pull it off!)What to look for
8 In your group, compare “patriots,” “heroes,” “soldiers,” “war criminals,” “invaders.” What is the emotional value of each word?What does each word imply?What clues do we get about the author’s attitude about this subject from each of these words?
9 Denotation and Connotation Connotation: the implied meaning of a word; the emotive qualities of the word.The most important aspect of diction for analysis!Gives clues to author’s stance, tone, and bias. Suggests how the author wants us to view the subject.Helps to establish pathos—creates certain feelings for the reader that subtly (almost subliminally) convince us of the author’s claim(s).“I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pigheaded.”--Bertrand RussellDenotation and Connotation
10 Directions:Each word has a different connotation, but has the same general denotation. 1st=Decide what the general denotation is for each group.2nd=Number the words in each group from most positive connotation to most negative connotation.
11 DENOTATION=The LITERAL (dictionary) definition of a word
13 Groups—each member explains the connotation of one of the words. NEXT, put them in some order—most pleasant to least, most serious to least, most formal to least, etc.Aroma, stench, smellInnocent, naïve, inexperiencedRisky, dangerous, treacherousStubborn, mulish, obstinateStrange, unfamiliar, exoticMistake, error, goofCling, hold, graspOppose, scorn, deplore
14 One more comparative example In your group, compare the following words, then answer the questions below;Winston Churchill was a statesmen. vs.Winston Churchill was a politician.Winston Churchill was a smart dude.Who might use each word?For what audience or audiences is each word potentially intended?One more comparative example
15 Euphamism “Put to sleep,” “euthanized,” “killed” Euphemism: the use of a word with positive or neutral connotations in place of a word with negative connotations.“Put to sleep,” “euthanized,” “killed”“Doctor assisted suicide” vs. “murder”“Operation Iraqi Freedom” vs. “Iraq War”“Needs improvement” vs. “failure”“Republic of Iraq” vs. “Dictatorship”“Lite beer” vs. “watered-down”“Downsizing,” “layoffs,” “firings”“Remedial class” vs. “developmental class”Ask students to write their responses in their journal for today.Discuss the effects briefly.Euphamism
16 The “Level” of diction refers to the degree of lexical complexity of the language. Levels are used to characterize the diction of a large section of a piece or the entire piece. Don’t try to categorize each word.Levels of diction relate primarily to ethos; authors use a certain level of diction to project a particular persona.Levels of Diction
17 Slang: language peculiar to a particular group; an informal, nonstandard vocabulary of coinages, arbitrarily changed words, and extravagant or facetious figures of speech.Jargon: technical terminology reserved for (usually) professional groups and trades.Ex. “Legalese”; writ, plaintiffEx. Music; clef, movement, keyEx. Computers; RAM, ROM, bytes, windowsBoth of these can offer clues as to the intended audience—ask, “who uses this slang?”JARGON and SLANG
18 Levels of Diction: Formal/Elevated consists of a dignified, impersonal, and elevated use of language; it follows the rules of syntax exactlyBut the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half- depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friend from among the knights and dames of his court.Levels of Diction: Formal/Elevated
19 Purpose and Effects of Formal Diction can cause the writer to seem knowledgeable and thoughtful (positive ethos) or can cause the author to seem boring, pedantic.Frequently used to obscure meaning by making the piece confusing and making the audience feel dumb; puts author is superior position relative to the audience.Purpose and Effects of Formal Diction
20 Levels of Diction: Neutral/Standard this is the everyday language that people use, often in semi-formal settingsAccepted use of conversational English; direct and adheres to rules of grammar; found in textbooks and magazines, spoken by newscastersLevels of Diction: Neutral/Standard
21 Purposes and Effects of Neutral/Standard Diction Can help the author to appear normal, everyday without “talking down.” Can place author and audience on “equal footing.” Often, this is the language used between peers in non-academic settings.Purposes and Effects of Neutral/Standard Diction
22 Levels of Diction: Low/Informal/Colloquial Conversational language-- certain expressions or phrases that speakers and readers would understand but that are outside the rules of Standard EnglishInformal language used in everyday speechCoulda, woulda, shouldaHe goes, “so ya wanna go out?”Ain’tIt really bugs me when you guys keep messing around.Levels of Diction: Low/Informal/Colloquial
23 Purpose and effects of Low/Informal/Colloquial Diction EFFECTS: Often used to add personality and voice, causing “closeness” to reader (positive ethos)—some use this to appear “folksy” and similar to the reader conversely, can cause author to seem uneducated or sloppy. Sometimes places audience in superior position, causing them to “look down upon” the speaker/writerPurpose and effects of Low/Informal/Colloquial Diction
24 Determine the level & note the diction that portrays it: #1:The domicile which we determined would be our primary residence during our anticipated sojourn in that region of the country exuded an aura of colonial charm not without a certain rustic exuberance, all of which we considered to be essential for our assimilation into our new environment.Determine the level & note the diction that portrays it:
25 #2The house we chose while we lived temporarily in that part of the country was both picturesque and simple. We decided that we needed such a house if we were going to feel like we belonged there.
26 #3The place we stayed in when we spent a few years there looked like it was right out of the history books, and none to fancy neither. But we figured if we were ever gonna feel like it was home, that was the way it had to be.
27 For all levels, identify the audience and decide why the author chose this diction for this audience.Connect the level of diction to 1) the audience and 2) purpose.So What?
28 In your group, compare the two sets of words: desk, blood, fly, fiery, agonizing.love, honor, respect, patriotism, goodness, evil.
29 Abstract: idea words and feeling words Abstract: idea words and feeling words. Not tangible—do not appeal to senses.Examples: love, honor, respect, patriotism, goodness, evil, etc.Effects: can build background for more specific discussion to follow for any of the appeals. Conversely, can distance the reader through a lack of specifics, and can obscure logic.Often used to manipulate pathosOften used to create ethos (especially through patriotic appeals)Abstract and Concrete
30 Concrete: tangible words appealing to the five senses. Examples: desk, blood, fly, fiery, agonizing.Effects: often helps to establish imagery and therefore pathos—check to see if the pathos is manipulative.Specifics help form the backbone of logic (statistics, specific examples and cases, etc.)
31 S.I. Hayakawa’s “Ladder of Abstraction” General, abstract words; Transportation, justice. Somewhat specific; Automobile, juvenile court. More specifically; cardio- Vascular health benefits. Very specific; the benefits to the small blood vessels around your heart.S.I. Hayakawa’s “Ladder of Abstraction”
32 Euphony and Cacophony The sound of the words is the key here. Euphony: words that sound pleasant.Usually dominated by vowel sounds; “flowery,” “pluvial,” “serendipitous.”Effects: contributes on a less conscious level to the tone; can make the subject sound positive.Euphony and Cacophony
33 Cacophony: negative sound. Usually consonant-heavy and Germanic.“Grungy,” “horrendous,” “vile.”EFFECT: Sound often overlaps with the meaning—negative sounding words often mean negative things, but not always.
34 Shift: any placed where an author changes the level, tone, or style of his or her diction. Effects: can work as transitions, indicate a change in attitude, or signal a key point in the argument.Almost always a signal that the author wants you to pay more attention than normal to a certain part of the writing.Shifts
35 Shifts in Tone Key Words: but, yet, nevertheless, however Punctuation: dashes, colonsParagraph DivisionChange in Sentence LengthShifts in Tone
36 The key thing to note about diction analysis: How does the diction help to imply or display the author’s attitude and claims towards the subject?How does the diction help to influence the reader’s attitude towards the subject?Keep the Speaker-audience-text triangle in mind!
37 There are two senses to “jargon” Positive/neutral: specialized language; sometimes necessary to communicate specialized ideas accurately; sometimes shorthand for members of in-group.Negative: nonsensical, euphemistic, incoherent talk; often used to make the simple seem profound.Example of simple ideas made to seem complex is midway down p. 150 in Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric.
38 In a small group, analyze these pairs of words; Anglo-Saxon Latinate_____Help FacilitateMake ManufactureAsk InterrogateGrow Maximize Shrink MinimizeWhat sorts of situations would call for more Latinate diction? Which would call for Anglo-Saxon diction?Analysis notes are in margins for these words on 70 and 71.
39 OTHER MANIPULATIVE LANGUAGE The following are contemporary military terms, found on p. 147 of Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric by Kahane and Cavendar.First, predict what you think each of the following terms means. List any and all possible meanings that you can think of. Then, we will discuss how each term manipulates the associations and emotions of the reader.Comfort Women Battle FatigueCollateral Damage Ethnic CleansingFriendly Fire Servicing a Target or Visiting a SitePacification Center TerminationSelective Ordinance The Final SolutionRefer to 147 of Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric for discussion points on the “militaryese” presented above.Ask students to compare expected meanings with “actual” meanings.Discuss the effects of these terms—what are they intended to accomplish? How do they persuade the reader?OTHER MANIPULATIVE LANGUAGE
40 Other Manipulative Language Weasel WordsStatements that appear to make little or no change in the content of a statement while in fact sucking out all or most of its content. “May” or “may be.” “Economic success may be the explanation of male dominance over females.” “Arguably” also works as weasel word.Other Manipulative Language