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How Word Choice Effects Meaning

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 1345 words Published: 9th Sep 2021

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According to Collins English Gem Dictionary, a criticism is a skilled in, or finding fault act whereas praising is an act that expresses approval, admiration of, glorifying and giving commendation. For example, live shows such as “American Idol” and “American’s got talent”, where the participants will be judged and evaluated by the judges. The comments may be fair or biased and hurtful. Criticizing someone does not necessarily have to be viewed as something negative because a criticism is given in order to help others to improve themselves or whatever they are lack of. These are positive criticisms that will lead to positive outcomes. However, there are also negative criticisms. These are the kinds of criticisms that are detrimental to an individual’s self-esteem. People who are always giving negative criticisms to others should be avoided.

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Appraisal on the other hand is used in the same sense as the word “praise”, which means an action that expresses warm approbation of, commend the merits of, glorify and extol the attributes of something or someone (The Concise Oxford Dictionary Of Current English, 1951). We give praises to someone when we agree or enjoy the person’s actions. For example, we praise someone when he or she has given an inspiring and awesome speech which has succeeded to move the hearts of others. We praise others when we like them or look up to them due to the qualities that we admire.

However, the praises expressed are not always sincere and honest. The praises that are given by others may be false and are actually in the form of sarcasms, ironically. For example, if someone says “You have the shape of a pear”, he or she might be praising you for the sexy body shape that you have, but it might be also a kind of sarcasm as well which refers to the fat of your body.

Providing honest appraisal is quite similar to the act of praising, but it is definitely an honest appraisal. Providing honest appraisal is healthy because it comes straight from the thoughts and feelings. We provide honest appraisal when we sincerely wish to give someone appraisal because we think they deserve our honest appraisal. Our honest appraisal will help to boost the confidence of others and help us not to be biased toward others.

2. “Meanings are in people, not in words.” Explain this statement.

According to Brian Paltridge in his book Discourse Analysis, people do things or perform communication acts in order to achieve their communication goals. Usually people meant what they say, not semantically, literally and not only on surface but every words uttered have its own meaning depends on the situation that they are in and to whom they referred to.

For instant, a person who is a driver will understand if someone gives him direction by saying “Take 12 o’clock after you reach the roundabout”. However, other people might get the message wrong if they are in a different situation or they don’t know what those words meant. They will assume that “Take 12 o’clock” as the time on the clock or watch. This shows that meaning is in people and not in words. It is also depends on the situation and people who are involve in the context.

It is the same when you talk, share information, or story with someone. If your friend tells you about his or her problem, that person will aspect you to listen, paying attention, understand, and show support. During this time, it is important for you to try and get what your friend is saying and try to understand what he or she meant by what the person said. If you have any doubt or seek confirmation, you should rephrase and ask question for confirmation and clarification. Indirectly, you will help your friend understands the problem better and come out with solution by himself. Other than that, words can be very powerful and change people’s life. For example, the words “I love you” can create a strange and wonderful feeling in your heart toward somebody who feel that you are special in his or her life. It also can change your life in a split second. We should pay attention with the interaction that we make with people around us especially those who are important in our life. It urges us to learn to understand the deeper message relies beneath those words, appreciate it, and how it becomes meaningful to their users.

3. Say what you understand by ‘sexist language’ and ‘racist language’. Why are these forms of speech practice considered offensive in each case? How can we avoid these barriers to effective speech?

Sexist language is using language in a way that excludes either men or women when discussing a topic when actually that is meant to include people from both sexes. For instance, the statement “Each student chose his own topic for his term paper,” leads the reader to assume that all the students in the class were male, despite the probability that half of them were female. Therefore, sexist language is gender bias in using languages. It can occur either consciously or unconsciously. When unconscious, the gender bias in language can be considered to be the product of society: the repetition of sexist behavior and terms used by other people in their speech practice causes the speaker unconsciously produces his or her own sexist language where men are the norm and women the ‘other’.

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Sexist language offends people when they find themselves excluded. If you are using language that is offensive to half of your audience, you will not get your message across. People will not be receptive to your arguments if they are aggrieved by your use of exclusively masculine pronouns. Moreover, sexist language encourages discrimination and can discourage people from pursuing their dreams.

In order to avoid these barriers, some strategies have to be taken to achieve effective speech. Firstly, the generic ‘man’ in common terms includes man, mankind, and caveman are the most commonly used gendered nouns, so avoiding the confusion they bring by using humanity or the human race when you are referring to all people or use ‘person’ instead of ‘man’ when referring of a single hypothetical individual. Secondly, avoid gendered pronouns and possessive adjectives like generic ‘he’ and ‘his’ by making them plural and use plural pronoun ‘they’. Thirdly, sex role stereotypes should be avoided by using genderless titles whenever possible, such as flight attendant instead of stewardess, fire-fighter instead of fireman, and homemaker instead of housewife and avoid adding gender markers to genderless titles, such as male nurse; use the genderless title alone (i.e., nurse).

It goes the same for racist language which most of the time are used to hurt other people who are different, in terms of their races. It may cause a lot of negative effects in every single way of its application no matter in what context it is been used. Taking Malaysia as an example, unity is one of the factors why all of us can live peacefully in a country which consist of many different races and not to mention being proud of it. Malaysia once faced racist issue and the last time it happened, thousands of people died in the tragedy and it shows how dangerous it can be when we’re dealing with racist issue. The point is, there is no particular race is better than the others, as long we are willing to work hard, and everyone could achieve the same success.

Whether they (racist and sexist languages) are used on purpose or blindly, it is a form of abuse or bullying and I think we can all do well to watch what words escape our lips, just in case we are repeating things we’ve always repeated without even knowing that they may be hurting someone. On the other hand, one way to avoid these kinds of languages is always remember than we are not better than anyone else and everybody should be treated equally. By this way, we won’t have any prejudice among other races or the opposite gender and of course we will make the world to better place to live.


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