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In the article, “Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense,” Raffaella Zanuttini criticizes the people that express anger when they hear others use double negatives in a sentence. She criticizes the proponents of civilization that fail to criminalize the expressions of prejudice against people that make mistakes when speaking English. Zanuttini claims that the failure by the civilized societies to mark the prejudicial comments against those that use double negatives as inappropriate is an indication of negative attitude towards others. The author claims that people that say they cannot stand their friends that make mistakes in their spoken language are as bad as racists that cannot stand people from other races. Zanuttini holds that since there is no scientific basis for making negative comments about the people that use double negatives, then the negative concord should be allowed as part of the English language. Zanuttini effectively uses ethos, logos and pathos to appeal to ethics, logic and emotions.
Zanuttini appeals to ethics by establishing credibility and authority over the issue she discusses in the article. She presents herself as an authority in linguistics. Using the authority, the author embarks on examining the topic as an individual that understands the rules that govern the subject. In questioning the scientific basis of criticizing the people that say “aks” instead of “ask”, Zanuttini refers to metathesis as a concept in linguistics. She says that metathesis recognizes that multiple negative elements are common in many languages and that if people that use such languages apply the same in speaking English, they should not be reprimanded (Zanuttini 1). Zunittini’s view is that applying natural phenomena that are “found across human languages” should not attract prejudicial comments that aim at portraying the speakers of a certain language as weak (1). In essence, Zunittini holds the view that freedom should cut across various aspects of life including the use of language.
The author also appeals to ethics in showing her understanding of other languages where negative concord is allowed. Zanuttini quotes the Italian phrase, “non ho visto nessuno” that she literally interprets to mean “not (I) have seen no one” (1). The author’s move to interpret the Italian language is an indication that she is an authority in linguistics. The Italian sentence reveals the use of negative concord is common in the country. However, Italians allow the double negatives since they do not affect the meaning of their language. The acceptance of double negatives in the Italian language, Zanuttini argues, should strike those that claim they cannot stand such phenomenon in English to understand that there is no single grammar of English.
The author’s credibility is seen in her move to explain the assertion that there is no single grammar that makes English. She says that people that criticize other’s grammar do so base on their view of the speakers and not the language used (Zanutini 2). She explains grammar as a guide that helps people to form sentences of their language. Thus, people make mental recipes that guide them to interpret and pronounce words that make sentences in their language (Zanuttini 2). By arguing that recipes are formed based on the speaker’s language, the author comes out as a credible linguist that can teach language formation and origin. The author’s use of ethos leaves the reader with no question regarding the analysis of the topic. An authority in linguistics can only criticize the author based on the linguistic concepts such as metathesis. However, the clarity in the examination of the concept indicates that the author is above board. The author’s appeal to ethics, therefore, makes the article a credible source of information regarding the issue of language formation and use.
Zanuttini appeals to logic by using evidence of the negative comments that people make regarding their peers’ use of negative concords. The reader may not understand the author’s views without the use of evidence. For instance, Zanuttini claims that comments such as “I cannot stand it when people say aks” are prejudicial and reveal that the person uttering them has a problem with the speaker and not the language (1). By giving an example of the negative comments, the author appeals to the logic of the readers to make them see her basis for the argument that prejudices cloud the judgment of the people that correct the others’ grammar.
The author also appeals to logic by using evidence from Mark Baker’s “Atoms of Language” to back up her claims. She claims that language should be treated as bread given that it varies across cultures. Zanuttini agrees with Baker that grammar has hidden rules that are different across languages (2). Based on the agreement, the author suggests that there is no illogical language and that using one’s language interpretation as a recipe to form English grammar is an indication of creativity. Zanuttin uses the analogy of bread to argue her point by claiming that there are many types of bread but people feel that some types are appropriate than others based on the recipe (2). Similarly, she suggests that those that use language are free to feel comfortable with certain uses of grammar and allow others to practise what they know. By arguing that no variety of English distorts other varieties, the author appeals to the reader’s logic in that those that use negative concords do not vary the grammar applied by those that do not use double negatives. Since people do not force others to take their preferred bread, then they should not use negative comments to discredit the grammar that others apply.
The analogy of bread that Zanuttini uses in the article can make the reader laugh as an expression of emotions. She claims that language recipes differ minimally from each other (Zanuttini 2). The reader may think that the speakers of English literally cook the language before they speak it. The appeal to emotions helps the writer to strike the reader’s thinking to relate the analogy of bread with English language. The author’s claim that people that criticize others’ grammar say that using double negatives “sounds stupid” appeals to anger (Zanuttini 1). The author sets the reader’s emotions to hate the critics of bad grammar from the beginning of the article. Therefore, the appeal to emotions helps the author to convince the reader to agree with her.
Zanuttini effectively appeals to ethics by showing her understanding of linguistics given her analysis of metathesis. The author presents herself as a credible source by highlighting claims that show her experience with critics of bad grammar. She effectively uses evidence from other sources to back up her claims. Interestingly, Zanuttini appeals to the reader’s emotions to set them against the proponents of good grammar. Thus, the article reveals the author’s ability to appeal to the relevant rhetorical elements to win the support of the reader.
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