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Chapter 12: Using Language

by: Robin W.

Chapter 12: Using Language COMS 1301

Robin W.
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About this Document

This covers the meaning of words, using language accurately, using language clearly, using language vividly, using language appropriately, and a note on inclusive language.
Fundamentals of Public Speaking
Sandie Idziak
Class Notes
communication, Language




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Robin W. on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to COMS 1301 at University of Texas at Arlington taught by Sandie Idziak in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 6 views. For similar materials see Fundamentals of Public Speaking in Journalism and Mass Communications at University of Texas at Arlington.

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Date Created: 10/03/16
Chapter 12: Using Language Coms 1301-007 Blue-Definition bold- important tips • You must choose the right words for the job you want to do o Good speakers are aware of the meaning of words • Meaning of words o Words have two meanings § Denotative: the literal or dictionary meaning of a word or phrase • Precise, literal, and objective • Describes the object, person, place, idea or event to which the word refers o Ex. School is a place, institution, or building where instruction is given § Connotative: the meaning suggested by the associations or emotions triggered by a word or phrase • Variable, figurative, and subjective • Suggests or implies o Ex. School might connote everything personal growth to boring homework assignments • Gives intensity and emotional power • Enriches the meaning of your statement • Using language accurately o Mistakes with language are rare among college students, but one word may capture our ideas more precisely than others § Every word has shades of meaning that distinguish it from other words o Thesaurus: book of synonyms o Ask yourself “what do I want to say” “what do I really mean” • Using language clearly o A speakers meaning must be immediately comprehensible § It also must be clear so there is no misunderstanding o Use familiar words § Listeners want plain talk § Big words (or lots of words) are not needed to impress listeners o Choose concrete words § Concrete words refer to tangible object • People, places and things • The more specific a word, the more concrete it is • Ex. Carrot, pencil, nose, door § Abstract words refer to ideas or concepts • This includes qualities or attributes • Ex. Humility, science, progress, and philosophy • Easier to interpret than concrete words • Eliminate clutter o Clutter forces the listener to work through a bunch of words to derive the meaning o Keep your language lean and lively o Do not use several words when one or two will do o Let your ideas emerge firmly and sharply o Do not use two or three synonymous adjectives when they are not necessary § Ex. A hot steamy, torrid day o Look for this when revising your outline • Using language vividly o Sometimes you can be accurate and clear without being interesting o Imagery: the use of vivid language to create mental images of objects, actions, or ideas § You want your audience to be able to “see” and “hear” what you are talking about § Concrete words can be used as effective imagery • They call up mental impressions of sights, sounds, touch, smell, and taste § Simile: an explicit comparison between things that are different but have something in common § Uses “like” or as” § Make sure you avoid using clichés like “fresh as a daisy” • Cliché: a trite or overused expression § Metaphor: an implicit comparison between different things that have something in common • Does not use “like” or “as” § Metaphors and similes can make abstract ideas concrete, clarify the unknown, and express feelings and emotions o Rhythm: the pattern of sound in a speech created by the choice and arrangement of words § Used to enhance the impact of their words • Do not emphasize sound and rhythm at the expense of meaning § This can also reinforce the message § Parallelism: the similar arrangement of a pair or series of related words, phrases, or sentences • Ex. “Rich and poor, intelligent and ignorant, wise and foolish, virtuous and vicious, man and woman-it is ever the same, each soul must depend wholly on itself” –Elizabeth Cady Stanton § Repetition: reiteration or the same word or set of words at the beginning or end of successive clauses or sentences • Unifies sequence of ideas • emphasizes an idea by stating it more than once • helps create a strong emotional effect § Alliteration: repetition of the initial consonant sound of close or adjoining words • Catches attention of listeners • Makes your ideas easier to remember § Antithesis: the juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, usually in parallel structure • Gives employees a touch of class • Produces neatly turned out phrase • Using language appropriately o Make sure it is appropriate to the occasion § Not too formal, and not too casual o Make sure it is appropriate to the audience § Avoid language that might offend your audience § Make sure you don’t use too many technical terms § Speakers are expected to elevate and polish their language when addressing the audience o Make sure your topic is appropriate o Make sure your language is appropriate to the speaker § Don’t do anything that you are uncomfortable with § Develop your speaking style • A note on inclusive language o You must be respectful of different groups o Inclusive language: language that does not stereotype, demean, or patronize people on the basis of gender, race, religion, disability sexual orientation, or other factors o Avoid the generic “he” § Generic “he”: the use of “he” to refer to both the women and men o Avoid the use of “man” when referring to both men and women o Avoid stereotyping jobs and social roles by gender o Use name that groups use to identify themselves § Ex. Don’t call gay men and lesbian women homosexuals


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