Analysing and presenting argument
In this area of study students focus on the analysis and construction of texts that attempt to infuence an audience. Students read a range of texts that attempt to position audiences in a variety of ways. They explore the use of language for persuasive effect and the structure and presentation of argument. They consider different types of persuasive language, including written, spoken, and visual, and combinations of these, and how language is used to position the reader. Students consider the contention of texts; the development of the argument including logic and reasoning, tone and bias; and the intended audience.
What is Language Analysis?
When a writer or speaker wants to convince us of something, they might use certain words and expressions in order to do this. Words are very powerful tools and speakers will often use these tools to have an influence over other people . It is therefore very useful and important to develop an understanding of how writers and speakers use language in order to convince us to believe what they want us to believe. For example a politician might like to say to his people
'We will never accept the immoral attrocities of terrorists. We will fight them at all costs'
What can we say about the language used in this statement ?
What are the 'attrocities'? Attrocities are acts which are considered to be completely unacceptable morally such as killing inocent children or entire groups of people. 'Attrocities is a word which we use to describe only the worst acts we can imagine. It is an extremely powerful word because it has what we call negative connotations or messages. It is also emotive language because it is appealing to our emotions or our hearts rather than our heads.
What can we say about the word 'terrorists'? Do you think people who are terrorists call themselves terrorists/ Almost certainly they do not 'Terrorists' is a word only those who reject the acts of others use to describe those people. Someone might describe someone else as a "terrorist' while the 'terrorist' might describe himself as a 'freedom fighter'. The word 'terrorist also has negative connotations and is emotive as well.
When the politician says 'We will fight them at all costs' he is making a statement through which he is trying to convince the people listening to him that his country will 'never give in to terrorists'. He is using what we might call assertive language. It is assertive becuase it is leaving the audience in no doubt about what must be done; he is telling the people that there is no other option than to fight. Thus the politician is using a variety of words and expressions to convince his audience of several things. The politician knows which words are powerful and so he deliberately uses these words to appeal to his audience. In other words, he is using language to encourage his audience to believe what he wants them to believe.
In order to analyse language, you need to be able to identify and explain the following language devices . These are not the only language devices you need to understand and be able to identify but they are probably some of the most important.
Appeal to Authority
Positive and Negative
Discredit the opposition.