The Roles of Language in the Context of Critical Thinking Rocio De La Torre Speech 104 February 5, 2010
What is the Importance of Language in Critical Thinking?
Language is fundamental to critical thinking because it determines the effectiveness of an argumentative process.
Unfortunately, improper word choice , excessive ambiguity , imprecise definitions , or language intensity that proves to be too inflammatory can all derail attempts by an ordinarily good communicator to effectively convey their ideas to their target audience.
Thus, the successful critical thinker must keep these four main aspects of language in mind when engaging in the analysis or formulation of arguments.
Therefore, I will discuss these four aspects of language and their relation to critical thinking.
Then, I will conclude with considerations of language that a critical thinker should keep in mind in order to improve their communication.
The word “mokusatsu” was an archaic Japanese word that did not translate well into other languages; inevitably most people (including Japanese citizens!) became confused by Prime Minister Suzuki’s announcement.
This confusion stemmed from the two characters in “mokusatsu”: “moku” ( 黙 ), which literally means “silence;” and “satsu” ( 殺 ), which literally means “kill.” Therefore, the two characters together roughly translate as “to kill with silence.”
Suzuki thought the pacifists would be satisfied because they would interpret this to mean “no comment” on the Declaration; he also thought militarists would be appeased because they would interpret this to mean “ignore” the Declaration.
Tragically, “mokusatsu” was broadcast to the world to mean “ignore” the Declaration, leading the Allies to decide on proceeding with testing the new products of the “Manhattan Project”.
Nagasaki (circa 1 month prior to “mokusatsu” statement). Nagasaki (circa 1 month after to “mokusatsu” statement). It is possible Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have avoided the decimation above if it were not for Prime Minister’s Suzuki ambiguity calculated for political expedience.
Words employed by a speaker have two meanings to the audience: denotative and connotative meanings.
Denotative meanings refer to the manner in which a word is generally used by people.
If one is not clear about this, one can consult a text similar to the one on the right.
Connotative meanings refer to the emotional responses elicited from people upon hearing a particular word (e.g. snowball fights could bring back fond childhood memories for some and terror for others).