Uses and Abuses of Language
1. Commercial for Schwab Investments: "I tell my daughter. Be your own man."
Analysis: Sexism in language. It would be much better if the ad is: "I tell my daughter. Be your own person."
2. Ad: "Wisk gets dishes virtually spotless!"
Analysis: 'Virtually' is a weasel word here. It's unclear and ambiguous how spotless they mean.
3. Reporter: "Now that there's a vacancy on the axis of evil, is Syria a good candidate?"
President Bush: "We will deal with each situation as it arises."
Analysis: Obfuscation. Bush does not directly answer the question, instead evades it in a non-committal way.
4. Overheard at a hospital: "Your local PCT advises the CPA when passing ADHD clients with PTSD to CPN's from the CMHT."
Analysis: Medical jargon - full of cryptic acronyms.
5. Honey, there's a telephone call for you from a man wanting to sell you life insurance.
Analysis: Life insurance is a euphemism for 'death insurance'.
6. Pat Robertson: "Those godless Democrats are really just baby-killers, sodomites, and socialists. I am begging you to vote for the Republicans."
Analysis: Whipping up emotions. (pro-choice advocates = baby-killers; gay-rights advocates = sodomites; health-care reformers = socialists).
7. My father is a sanitation engineer and is a driver of a street environment service vehicle.
Analysis: Euphemisms. (sanitation engineer sounds better than garbage collector; street environment service vehicle sounds better than garbage truck).
8. Nestles' new chocolate bar contains real chocolate and sells for only 50 cents.
Analysis: Slanting. Most chocolate bars contain real chocolate and 50 cents is probably not that cheap for a chocolate bar of the size of this new Nestles' chocolate bar. Note they don't mention the size of their new bar.
9. A personal ad: "SWF seeks supportive partner in a relationship leading to marriage. I am attractive, rubenesque, and a free spirit."
Analysis: Euphemisms. SWF = single white female; supportive = take care of me and my family; rubenesque = over-weight; free spirit = a little crazy
10. Teacher to student: "I admit you weren't cheating on that test."
Analysis: Slanting. An obvious case of an innuendo, implying the student has cheated on other tests.
11. I had a date with a chick last night and met her brother, who told me that his sister would make a great housewife.
Analysis: Sexism in language. You should replace 'chick' with 'woman' and replace 'housewife' with 'homemaker'.
12. This could sort of be a good class if perhaps more students would post to the message lists.
Analysis: Weasel words. 'sort of' and 'perhaps'. The statement is ambiguous and lacking commitment.
13. The physically challenged Inuit womyn that I have known have a serious problem surviving the Arctic winters.
Analysis: PC language. physically challenged = physically handicapped; Inuit = eskimo
14. A new nutritional avoidance therapy can help minimize self-deliverance and eventually a negative patient care outcome.
Analysis: Doublespeak or jargon. nutritional avoidance therapy = diet; self-deliverance = suicide; negative patient care outcome = death
15. If stock brokers would only have better efficiency-generated goals then the fourth-quarter equity retreat would be negated.
Analysis: Doublespeak or jargon. efficiency-generated goals = harder work; fourth-quarter equity retreat = stock market crash
16. U.S. General in Iraq: "We are increasing our coercive diplomacy and serving the targets, although the main cells of the insurgency are outside current accuracy requirements."
Analysis: Doublespeak or jargon. coercive diplomacy = bombing; serving the targets = killing; outside current accuracy requirements = missed
17. We are proud to announce our '2005 Salesman of the Year Award" goes to Mrs. John White.
Analysis: Sexism in language. 'Salesman' should be replaced by salesperson; 'Mrs. John White' should be replaced by Ms. Jane White
18. Some Liberal: "These mean-spirited extremist right-wingers are leading us down the road to fascism. They have hijacked democracy in this country. If we continue electing them to public office then we face catastrophe after catastrophe. We must put a stop to their culture of corruption and cronyism or the America we once knew will be gone forever."
Analysis: Obviously whipping up emotions.
19. In response to your question about whether there were accounting discrepancies, let me just say that accounting is not always an exact science and people do make mistakes.
Analysis: Obfuscation. The question is not answered; instead the person beats around the bush.
20. Which use of language do the following mainly convey? (cognitive, emotive, evaluative, or directive)?
a) "Honey, bring me a cup of coffee"
b) "I love country and western music"
c) "Chalk is a soft, white, porous form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite."
d) "Bleeding-heart liberals are against capital punishment:
21. Our after death care provider is going to pick up my uncle's body today. He passed away yesterday while he was at my aunt's mobile estate.
Analysis: Euphemisms. death care provider = funeral director; passed away = died; mobile estate = trailer park
CATE: Computer-Assisted Teaching Environment
Distance Education office at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA USA
Last updated: 8:14 on 15 March 2013
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