Language and Critical Thinking by K. Driscoll

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  • 1. Language and Critical Thinking
    By Katherine Driscoll
  • 2. Language and Critical Thinking
    The critical thinker meets the needs and expectations of the audience.
    The language should be appropriate to the time, place, person and occasion.
  • 3. Four Areas of Language
    Word choice
    Ambiguity
    Definition
    Intensity
  • 4. Word Choice
    Words chosen must resonate with the audience.
    Remember: Not everyone uses language in the same way!
    Whorf-Saphir hypothesis:
    Language shapes how one interprets an event.
    Language is a filter that shapes how you think.
  • 5. Word Choice
    The Impact of Wrong Word Choice:
    • 1945: Allies ask Japan to surrender
    • 6. Prime Minister of Japan uses the word mokusatsu
    • 7. Meaning 1: “no comment”
    • 8. Meaning 2: “to ignore
    • 9. Western press thinks Japan chooses to ignore
    • 10. USA drops atomic bombs to punish Japan
  • Ambiguity
    The goal is to have the target audience understand the message.
    Specificity is valued over ambiguous word choice.
    Ambiguity may result in misunderstanding.
  • 11. Ambiguity
    Euphemisms – alternative words that “soften” the impact of offensive words
    May lead to misunderstanding
    Jargon – words known only to a select crowd
    May exclude some members of the audience
    Doublespeak – language that conceals or prevents what you truly mean
    Ex/ misleading statements, sarcasm
  • 12. Ambiguity
    Problems caused by ambiguity:
    Confused audience – can be genuine or intentional (ex/ when advertisers trick you with word choice)
    Over-generalization and stereotyping
    Bypassing – using the same word to mean different things, or using different words to mean the same thing
  • 13. Definition
    Denotative vs. Connotative Meaning:
    Denotative – the most commonly understood meaning of a word
    Ex/ “mother” is the woman who gives birth/raises a child
    Connotative – a person’s emotional response
    Ex/ “mother” may suggest thoughts of kindness, trust, love
    OR
    Ex/ “mother” may suggest thoughts of depression, fear, hate
  • 14. Definition
    Types of Definitions:
    Dictionary Definition
    Operational Definition
    Ex/ A “good car” is reliable and gets good MPG.
    Definition by Example
    Ex/ A “good car” is a Honda or a Toyota.
  • 15. Definition
    Types of Definitions:
    Definition by Negation
    Ex/ A “good car” is not one that breaks down.
    Definition by Etymology
    - defining a word by its historical roots
    Specific Definition
    - useful for idioms or slang terms
  • 16. Intensity of Language
    Avoid using the following types of words:
    Negative Evaluative Words
    Ex/ ugly, fat, weird, stupid, strange, etc.
    Strong Emotive Words
    - words that clearly show a speaker’s bias
    Abusive Language
    - name calling, obscenity, insults, swear words, etc.
  • 17. Impact of Language on Critical Thinking
    What type of language will your audience understand?
    What words will help or hurt you in making your point?
    What type of language will increase your credibility as a speaker?
    What language symbols are most appropriate for decoding your message?
  • 18. Just For Fun…