Language is a communication tool The problem is that there is no universally correct way to use a word. A critical thinker uses language that meets the needs and expectations of the audience. It includes time, place, person and occasion.
Four areas of language use are important Word choice Ambiguity Definition Intensity
Word Choice The words of a particular language help to determine the way that people interpret events that occur. But there is no guarantee that sender and receiver will be on the same semantic wave length. Our word choices allow us to indirectly express our real feelings about the people, events or things.
Ambiguity Our communication goal is to have the target audience understand the content of message when we selected the symbols to represent that message. Ambiguous language run the risk of being misunderstood and face rejection. Use euphemism that sometimes necessary in order to soften a word that an audience may find offensive and unacceptable.
Ambiguous language Can cause confusion Can lead to over-generalizing and stereotyping Can lead to bypassing
Definition The primary function of definition is to get sender and receiver on the same semantic wave in order to avoid unnecessary semantic hurdles that prevent a discussion of more important issues. Definition words convey to different meaning : a denotative and connotative meaning.
Definition Denotative meaning of a word refers to the way a word is generally used or meaning that people most frequently attach to a word. Connotative meaning of the word refers to the way a person emotionally responds to it. Without connotative meanings, we would be unable to describe ourselves fully.
Definition Critical thinker can use any of the following ways to define any terms to avoid misunderstanding: Dictionary definition Operational definition (function) Definition by example Definition by negation (phrase is not) Definition by etymology (historical) Special definitions (informal quality)
Intensity of language The intensity level of one’s language refers to the use of words and phrases that often negatively to raise the emotional level. It is language that is considered coarse, vulgar, obscene, or offensive.
Intensity of language can be found one of the three areas Negative evaluative words which can be understood through comparison with their opposite. Words like certainly, always, never, absolutely, obviously.
Intensity of language can be found one of the three areas Strong Emotive words are used to describe something, but presents the person’s attitude. These type of words are used in reference to race, ethnicity, gender and sexual preference.
Intensity of language can be found one of the three areas Abusive language is the use of obscenity, name calling, insults, swear words and they remarks usually of a racial or sexual nature.
Impact of language on critical thinking Language is related to audience attention and comprehension Language s related to audience acceptance and rejection of an argument Language affects arguer credibility Language determines how people interpret their environment.