Speech 104 - Extra Credit
By: Romina Vardanyan
Language is a marvelous
communication tool, and it is
also the source of many
Language is fundamental to
critical thinking. A good
critical thinker uses language
that meets the needs and
expectations of the audience,
and is appropriate to the time,
place, person and occasion.
Four areas of language use are
important to critical thinking:
word choice, ambiguity,
deﬁnition, and intensity.
The meaning of words does not simply rest in words
themselves but in the minds of the people who use an
Meaning is in the mind and not in
the symbols (words). The
language goal of the critical
thinker is to select the appropriate
words to match the time, place,
occasion and person. THis is no
more than saying “the right thing
at the right time”.
“In order to qualify as an
ambiguity, an expression
must generate not only ‘ t
least t wo different
meanings’, but also t wo
incompatible and unrelated
meanings. It is only then
that an expression is truly
ambiguous.” -Drazen Pehar
“Use of Ambiguities in Peace
A euphemism is a less direct term, used in the place of a
more specific term which may be considered offensive.
When used in this way, euphemisms tend to “sanitize” or
cleanup one’s language.
A euphemism can basically be any word. The only
requirement is that a listener associates it with the offensive
or taboo term which it replaces, or understands the
connection between the word or the taboo.
The primary function of
deﬁnition is to get the sender
and receiver on the same
semantic wavelength in order to
avoid unnecessary semantic
hurdles that prevent a
discussion of more important
Deﬁnition is also used to
indicate the sense in which you
use a familiar term especially
when your use of the term might
differ from conventional usage.
Words convey two different
meanings to the audience: a
denotative and a connotative
Denotative meaning boyfriend |ˈboiˌfrend|
a regular male companion
refers to the way a with whom one has a
romantic or sexual
word is generally
used, or the meaning
that people most
frequently attach to
a word. Boyfriend
refers to the way a
responds to a word.
Dictionary Deﬁnition: formal deﬁnition, and is
probably the most common form for clarifying what a
Operational Deﬁnition: most useful to deﬁne a word
by its function or operation.
Deﬁnition by Example: deﬁning a word or phrase by
citing speciﬁc instances of that word or phrase.
Deﬁnition by Negation: this form of deﬁnition tells us
what a word or phrase is not.
Deﬁnition by Etymology: deﬁning a word or phrase by
citing its historical roots or point of origination.
Intensity of Language
The intensity level of
one’s language refers
to the use of words and
phrases that often
negatively raise the
emotional level of any
Intensity Language can be found
in one of the following three
Negative Evaluative Words: words
that can only be understood through
a comparison with their opposite
(ugly, fat, weird, stupid, strange).
Strong Emotive Words: words which
are used to describe something, but
really presents the person’s attitude
toward what is being described.
Abusive Language: use of obscenity,
name calling, insults, swear words
and off-color remarks which are
usually of a racial or sexual nature.
Correct language can enhance credibility
and claim adherence, but using incorrect
language can damage credibility and lead
to the rejection of the position being