Language and Critical Thinking Nicole Britton Speech 104/ Fall 2012
Attributes of Good Critical Thinker◊ Knows their audience and uses language accordingly◊ Uses language appropriate to • Time • Place • Person • Occasion
Warning: Poor choices in language may lead to serious dilapidation in communication QuickTime™ and a decompressor are needed to see this picture.
Linguistics and Semantics◊ Linguistics • The scientific study of human language◊ Semantics • The branch of linguistics that studies the meanings of words, phrases and sentences oxforddictionaries.com
Word Choice◊ Meaning is in the mind, not in the symbols.
Whorf-Sapir Hypothesis◊ Thoughts and behavior are determined by language◊ Our culture determines our language • Language leads to categorization of our thoughts • Meanings can change as social groups use them for their own purposes◊ Language affects how you think
Ambiguity…Words have more than oneinterpretation◊ Subtle abuses of language cause ambiguity • Doublespeak - language used to lie or mislead ◊ Euphemism (ex: “use the little girls’ room”) ◊ Jargon ◊ Obscure language◊ Ambiguous language leads to… • confusion • over-generalizing • Bypassing
Definitions◊ Define the terms you are working with • Words convey two different meanings Denotative - common usage Connotative - emotional response to word◊ Ways to Define terms • Dictionary • Operational definition • Definition by example • Definition by negation • Definition by etymology • Special definitions
Intensity of LanguageThe emotional level of a communication encounter can be raisednegatively through the use of intense language◊ Negative Evaluative words • Understood through comparison with opposite • May be used to indicate strength of another word ex: always, never, absolutely◊ Strong Emotive Words • Present an attitude • Potentially negative editorial statements◊ Abusive language • Obscenities, name calling, insults, swear words, etc.
Impact of Language on Critical ThinkingLanguage… …is related to audience attention and comprehension …is related to audience acceptance and rejection of an argument. Choose words carefully and thoughtfully to maximize audience reception. …affects arguer credibility. Word choice reveals class and education …determines how people interpret their environment. Select language symbols to match thoughts.