Language is the featurethat defines humans.It is what separates us fromanimals..
Four areas of language use thatare important to critical thinking:Word ChoiceAmbiguityDefinitionIntensity
Word Choice With over 500,000 words in the English language, there is no guarantee the sender and receiver will be on the same wavelength. The Whorf-Sapir hypothesis states: Language and thinking are inherently related. Good word choice involves being able to choose the most accurate words to convey the message.
Ambiguity When a word has multiple definitions or meanings, the word is labeled “ambiguous”. One area of communication that increases the ambiguity level is the use of euphemisms. An example of an euphemism is using the term “with child” rather than “pregnant”.
Ambiguity cont.’d William Lutz describes “doublespeak” as language that conceals or prevents thought. Ambiguous language can cause confusion, stereotyping and bypassing. Using greater language precision will offer the best communicative stance.
DefinitionThe primary function of definition is to get sender and receiver on the samesemantic wavelength. Denotative Meaning Connotative Meaning The meaning of a word The emotional impact of most frequently used by a word. people. When the sender and receiver establish common ground regarding the meaning of words, then clarity in language has been established.
Definition cont.’d…The critical thinker can use any of the following to define terms: Dictionary definition Operational definition Definition by example Definition by negation Definition by etymology Special definitions
Intensity of LanguageThere are three areas of intensity of language: Negative evaluative words Strong emotive words Abusive language
Impact of Language on CriticalThinkingLanguage and persuasion are related in the following ways: Language is related to audience attention and comprehension Language is related to audience acceptance and rejection of an argument Language affects arguer credibility Language determines how people interpret their environment
Remember…language choicemust be appropriate to thetime, place, person andoccasion.