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A Study on the Tactics of Linguistic Phenomenon

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Linguistic Phenomena

In today’s society people are consistently voicing their feelings, opinions, and emotions in effort to try and enlighten others about what they believe is right and wrong. Many of these opinions that are voiced are concerns are topics that closely relate to our society and its problems that people perceive. The author/speaker attempts to motive the reader/listener to ponder their own thoughts that they have been instilled to believe. The commentary, “To hate that which we fear… (or disagree with),” by Reginald Fox provides an insight into the reader’s mind as to why he believes the words “hate” and “hater” are being used too freely to describe anybody with a respectable differing opinion. Fox’s commentary is full of fitting examples of, “…ways in which particular uses of language can serve to obscure what speakers and writers are trying to convey. We call these uses of language ‘linguistic phenomenon’,” (28) which is defined by Bowell and Kemp in Critical Thinking a Concise Guide. These tactics allows the writer to get their point across while controlling the argument’s path and connecting with the reader. The use of compelling speech and persuasive style is also referred to as, “forms/tactics and argumentative language,” (Garcia-Martinez). Some examples of this motivating and persuasive language found in the commentary are: argumentative generalization, argumentative rhetorical question, argumentative acknowledgement, etc. These linguistic phenomena turn Fox’s feelings into something tangible, while done with a knowledgeable, unbiased, and respectful tone. Consequently, to be able to appreciate the purposes of these linguistic tactics one must be able to recognize and understand, not what a writer is speaking of but how they are speaking.

The first thing that pops into someone’s mind when they hear definition is dictionary because it is a book filled with countless definitions. The first linguistic phenomenon demonstrated will be argumentative definition. It is not a dictionary definition like one is accustomed to but, “… a strong manipulative tactic because the writer/speaker attempts to state what something or someone is according to their own beliefs, judgements, or attitudes- according to their personal argument.” It is a self-made definition created by the writer that is a, “definition of some thing or phenomenon tells us the necessary and sufficient conditions for counting it as that kind of thing,” (Bowell, Kemp, 44). Therefore, in evaluating an event, if it does not possess all the characteristics that the writer provided in their definition then it cannot be that thing. In Reginald Fox’s statement titled, “To hate that which we fear… (or disagree with),” he makes a very clear argumentative definition about hate. “…with hatred at all times comes hostility, abuse, violence, and death.” The writer is saying that hostility, abuse, violence, and death follow hatred wherever it goes but without all four of those characteristics then it is not hatred, even if you are only missing one. This rhetorical language form provides Fox with control over, not just the argument’s direction, but also, the reader’s perspective. Therefore, since hate is always accompanied by those four things just because someone has a different opinion does not make them hateful, according to Fox, but hate is a manifestation of hostility, abuse, violence, and death and unless all are entirely present then neither is hate. This then helps the writer’s argument that not everyone with a different opinion is hateful and it is a word that is administrated to people’s actions with proper consideration. Consequently, it makes the reader ponder about what they think or who they think is hateful, and they soon become enlightened about the differences between hate and disagreement and ultimately agree with Reginald Fox’s beliefs.

Thought provoking language is essential to obtaining the reader’s attention and can be accomplished by argumentative rhetoric. It is defined as, “…employing language that is effective and powerful due to its formal, poetic, emotional, high-minded, illustrative, humorous, or sarcastic tones or imagery.” An example from Fox’s article is, “To hate is to possess a purposeful and deep aversion; an intense, sometimes ineffable loathing that borders on the extreme, fueled by growing noxious mixes of profound dislike, disrespect, and disgust.” What the writer is doing and encouraging the reader to consider the argument presented. Not everyone is hateful because hate is something disgusting. His words are poetic, the way he compares hatred to an ill-brewing mixture of indescribable rage, belittling, and repulsion, it sounds like a story. These words motivate the reader to reanalyze their judgements about people or events they consider hateful. It forces someone to reevaluate their morality and ponder, “are people really hateful or do we just not like opinions that differ from ours?” The intense use of language distracts the reader from their original opinion and sways them in the direction of the writer’s thoughts. Something to note is the definition provided in the textbook, Critical Thinking A Concise Guide by Tracy Bowell and Gary Kemp. It is stated that rhetoric is “…a written attempt to persuade,” (46) and “…something that does not attempt to give good reasons for the belief, desire or outcome,” (46) the problem is that this argumentative tactic is not solely used for persuasion but it is employed to enlighten and provoke the reader to think.

Some writers use lengthy arguments to try and get their point across but that is not always necessary because a single would can be just as powerful. That is called the use of argumentative diction, “…makes a purposeful, calculated, and potent use of a particular single word that represents something larger that the word itself…” An example from the article by Fox would be, “Hatred (hate) is a black, blasphemous, brutal, and bad word that is now becoming all too commonplace.” The word that calls the reader’s attention is black because it provokes an image. The word black makes evil sound like a hidden, spiteful, and place of no return. Therefore, when that word is used to describe someone (hateful) it is extremely insulting because it has a cynical connotation which no one would enjoy being associated with. Consequently, a very powerful word will jump out at the reader and they will consider all the connotations that come along with the thought-provoking statement, thus, motivating them to ponder their beliefs.

When presenting one’s opinion the writer/speaker should be considerate of all facts and avoid generalizing because the reader can react poorly to such broad statements. The next linguistic phenomenon is argumentative generalization which is, “…when a writer/speaker intentionally or unintentionally fashions a broad, sweeping, all-purpose observation or conclusion about something or someone-a claim about a religious group, a political group, generations or genders, an event or occurrence, etc.” It is very easy to make a generalized conclusion about an event or people and very easy to agree with if a reader is not carefully observant of the information provided. A notable example is one provided by Fox, “These four constantly follow hate, necessarily follow it, cannot help but follow it, and the result is always a terrible one. There are no exceptions.” He is referring to his definition that hate is followed by hostility, abuse, violence, and death. Fox is trying to make a significant impact with this statement, implying the severity of the word hate and that people that disagree with someone’s statement are not hateful because all those characteristics would have to follow their actions. Fox is providing an insight into how powerful the word hate is and that encourages the reader to reflect on their emotions/feelings towards that word now that they have a better understanding of what it truly means, to the writer to be hateful. Since Fox is using such thought provoking language it may overbearing cause the reader to agree but his biased thoughts also push a reader to disagree with him because he does not consider all aspects of hate. A reader can argue that hate is present without death and does not need to result in such extreme measures to be acknowledges and, consequently, the argument is weakened.

When a writer distributes statistics in their argument it can be highly influential on the reader because it proves that further research has been done on the subject which gives more credibility to the writer’s perspective. An example is Fox’s use of historic dates, “Americans disagreed with George the III in the 18th century and acted upon it, they did so with Davis in the 19th century, and Hitler in the 20th, and Daesh in the 21st.” Even if the reader did not initially recognize the references reading about those dates it could encourage them to do further research of their own and enlighten them with new intelligence. After reading about historical disagreements the reader then begins to better interpret that disagreements are normal and common in society, even many years ago, with so many disagreements not all those people are hateful. Furthermore, different opinions are something to be fought for and if people like Cesar Chavez or Martin Luther King never expressed their thoughts we would not be here right now. If anyone that disagrees is hateful is that to say that anyone that possesses a different opinion, since the beginning of time, is trying to encourage: violence, abuse, hostility, and death?

While a reader is engaged in a literary work it is easy for them to lose focus of the main point or argument. A linguistic tactic utilized by writers to refocus the reader’s attention is called an argumentative direct claim. It is defined as, “…a concise, immediate clearly-stated assertion from the writer/speaker.” This tactic provides the reader with direct insight into the author’s beliefs, conclusions, and emotions. An example demonstrated om Fox’ commentary is, “Yet more and more Americans are increasingly being labeled “haters” for having a different opinion; their honest feelings are characterized as “hate”.” After reading this sentence the reader cannot question Fox’s judgements; he clearly believes that hate is being used too freely to describe anyone that does not agree with the majority beliefs. That is the whole point of this linguistic phenomenon, the reader never should wonder or assume the writer’s position because he is clearly stating his point of view. Fox is open with his emotions because it connects him closer to the reader because both people are on the same page.

A writer can explain and speak about events or situations but once examples are given it helps strengthen the reader’s comprehension and the writer’s point of view. A rhetoric play called argumentative illustration attempts, “…to help the reader/listener not only visualize the topic or idea being considered, but to help them, understand it better by considering examples and/or specific instances that show and do not just tell.” In Fox’s work he provides some examples of people he has witnessed being called hateful for having their own opinions: “I have seen it applied to my friend…who openly shared with a group of parents that he doubted whether or not DACA should be rendered null…” and, “I have seen it applied to a disapproving and fearful old pastor, 86 years on this Earth and 62 in the clergy, who was telling his flock that our family values, our social, cultural and sexual border, our traditions and personal and communal identities were all breaking down…” With every example, it is as if Fox is narrating a story that is illustrating his argument. He is allowing the stories of others to essentially do the argumentative work for him and once a reader comes across the example of the old pastor and him facing the accusations of “hater” it is hard to accept such claims because now the reader understands how real people are affected by someone else’s mindless judgement. This type of proof is compelling because the reader can put themselves in the perspective of anytime they have disagreed with a popular opinion and know that it was not hateful and it would be difficult to accept being wrongly fully accused of such a powerful emotion.

An argument is not something one simply does or has but it is an experience or phenomenon, it is any moment that someone tries to demonstrate their thoughts. When someone is conveying their thoughts, it is important that they try to not be too biased, or at least sound like it, because if they fail to recognize all sides of an argument then they turn off the reader/listener because of their anti-holistic view. To avoid this bias approach a writer may use a tactic called argumentative acknowledgement which, “…occurs when a writer/speaker attempts to recognize, or concede, another’s idea/response to what is being argued or discussed.” Such as Fox does in his commentary, after giving plenty of examples to demonstrate how “hater” is used to broadly he states, “But I could be wrong.” He does not want to come across and pushy and ignorant towards his readers, that may have a different opinion than him, so he recognizes that although he has articulated his emotions into argument, he may be wrong, which makes him come across as understanding to others’ judgements. This tactic keeps the reader intrigued in the commentary and welcomes them to continue reading instead of ignoring Fox and his truths because they are one-sided.

To engage a reader and encourage them to engage in the argument, the writer can pose questions for the reader to ponder about and answer. An argumentative rhetorical question, “…is designed to have a compelling effect on the reader/listener in that the writer/speaker poses a question but does not provide an answer, leaving the reader/listener to ponder it.” Fox dispenses a great form of a rhetorical question, and it is perfectly placed at the end of the commentary he admits, “But I could be wrong.” After he gave all his strongest evidence and main points he encourages the reader to go back and review all his work and make their own conclusion about the topic. This tactic focuses on the aspect of a “real life argument” because it is as if the writer was right there and the reader is exchanging ideas.

Referencing a previous event or someone that is notable according to the topic at hand strengthens the writer’s point of view because it makes them sound knowledgeable about the subject matter. The use of this linguistic phenomenon is called an argumentative allusion and is defined as, “…a decisive reference to a person, thing, place, idea, event, time, art or literary work, or philosophical, political, and religious concept, etc.” Fox’s reference was one made to a young lady named, “Heather Heyer, a woman passionate about social justice, murdered while counter-protesting against authentic, audible, historical, and televised hate groups this summer in Charlottesville, Virginia, would accuse my good friend, the honest public servant, or even that idiotic politician of “hate”.” Fox is again tying the word hate to violence and ultimately death, just as he defined it earlier in his commentary and suggesting that this woman that lost her life to actual hatred would not consider measly comments as hate. This then causes Fox’s argument to strengthen because he made a connection to a very well-known event, thus meaning, he did research on the topic beforehand. He is enlightening the reader’s thoughts with even more examples of hate instead of people with differing opinions, he referred to what happened when someone truly hates another. Consequently, driving the reader to reconsider his/her emotions towards hatred.

In a literary work or speech an author or speaker may ask a question to engage the audience at hand. The writer will do this to keep the reader intrigued and connected to the writing, “An argumentative direct question provides instant, direct, clear answer by the writer/speaker. For this tactic, the writer/speaker essentially answers their own question…” Therefore, the reader is incorporated but quickly follows with a response to control the direction of the argument. An example found in Fox’s commentary is, “Are all of these people truly hateful? Full of hate? Hate-mongers? Speaking for the one, no. And speaking for the others, I really much doubt that.” He has displayed all his evidence he has on why he believes the word “hate” is being used to carelessly and poses the question to the audience, after they have been enlightened, if they believe they are truly hateful or just do not agree with popular opinions. Then, before they can answer he steps in and says no, which assures the reader that the writer knows what he is talking about. He used examples and researched true examples of hate as opposed to people with varying opinions. This tactic encourages the reader to ponder people that hate and people that think differently from others and asks the reader to take a step back and truly analyze the people that are called “haters”.

Arguments are a natural and healthy part of any society or relationship. They are not just something to be had but are an experience that one engages in, where people can let their thoughts and emotions be heard. A commentary, like the one provided by Reginald Fox, gives the reader an opportunity to hold Fox’s judgements in their hands and evaluate it right then and there. His use of linguistic tactics, such as argumentative allusion or argumentative diction, force the reader to ponder his or her own thoughts after being enlightened with information from the commentary. These rhetorical plays can be very powerful but once a reader learns to discover them in a literary work or speech and how they work to motivate a person’s feelings the argument turns into an experience where all parties can express their thoughts into a mindless argument with bias conclusions.

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A Study on the Tactics of Linguistic Phenomenon. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-the-tactics-of-linguistic-phenomenon/
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A Study on the Tactics of Linguistic Phenomenon. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-on-the-tactics-of-linguistic-phenomenon/> [Accessed 23 Oct. 2020].
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