Power Point: Diction in your persuasive essay

How the words you use in your essay effect your
Vocabulary of Issue
 The discourse of your topic
 Use discourse of issue but remember to define key terms if needed:
subprime mortgage, underwater, CFO’s vs. factory farms
 Spell out abbreviations first time
 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
 National Public Radio (NPR)
 What are some key terms in the discourse of your topic
 Write down
 Share
 Tone : should be educated , formal, and reasonable—beyond
that it’s up to you (serious, urgent, thoughtful, welcoming, angry,
 Formality means: avoiding contractions, longer, more complex
sentences, favoring the objective third person over first
 Avoid insulting your audience
Of course, . . .
 It’s obvious that. . . .
 Everybody knows/agrees that…
 Use qualified language
 Avoid overgeneralizing by using words like some, many,
often, instead of all, everyone, everybody
Tone and Organization
 Avoid questioning the
 It creates an informal
 You should be the
authority persuading the
reader what to think, not
just provoking the reader
to think
Example: Haven’t you seen a
lot of large people around
town? Don’t you think
obesity is a problem?
 Also, questioning the reader
does not create a smooth
sentence to sentence
transition as student writers
often seem to think it does
 Obesity is a severe
problem in the United
States. Looking around,
you might ask yourself,
why is this such a big
issue? Obesity is an issue
Tone and Organization
 Often, student writers
think they are asking a
question with one
obvious answer, but
they are wrong.
Research question: Should
national education
standards be applied to K12 education?
 Excerpt from argumentative essay:
 “National standards are not
simply raising the bars on
education but instead on
competition. How is this
possible? The United States is
trying to have their students’
educational level rise and be
above all others. If this is the way
of thinking when trying to place
standards, then how can these
standards possibly benefit
 This author assumes that what
benefits the U.S. cannot also benefit
students. This is an illogical
 The words you use reflect
your stance, and that’s a
good thing, but be careful
about using words without
paying attention to their
 Denotation: dictionary
definition; literal meaning
 Connotation: all the
emotions and associations
that come with a word
 The Economic Bailout
Package compared to The
Rescue Package compared to
The Consumer Protection Act
 Explore the differences
 Hard vs. challenging
 Scrawny vs. svelte
 Plain vs. natural
 Frugal vs. cheap
 Cultured vs. snobby
 Cop vs. police officer
The discourse of argument
 Key words and phrases often useful in writing arguments
 The issue started to take shape when _______________
 Proponents, advocates, supporters, stakeholders, backers, sponsors,
allies, defenders, champions
 Critics, naysayers, protestors, dissenters
 When introducing reasons and evidence
 One supporting point of ________ is ___________.
 Proponents of ______________ argue that _______________.
 Evidence that backs this reasoning is______________.
 _______________ suggests that….
 Key verbs
 (See pg. 420 in Handbook) Notes, argues, implies, reasons,
acknowledges, grants
Figurative Language
 Using analogies, metaphors, similes, and
personification to enhance your persuasiveness--and
get a better diction score! : )
Analogies are. . .
 A kind of metaphor that makes an elongated
comparison for the purposes of illustration or
drawing parallels
 This comparison may even extend through a whole essay or
 Example: "I look at this as being in the form of a
house...and the students are the foundation, and the
teachers are the walls, and the roof itself is the school. And
we know that if you have a weak foundation, the walls and
the roof can't be supported. Therefore, it crumbles."
-- Northwestern State University student Jason Madison,
Student's should 'come first' address
More analogy examples. . .
 "Wishing for the end to AIDS and extreme poverty
in Africa is like wishing that gravity didn't make
things so damn heavy. We can wish it, but what
the hell can we do about it?"
-- Bono, 2004 Commencement Address at The University of
Metaphors are. . .
 A comparison between two things, based on
resemblance or similarity, without using “like” or “as.”
 A device for seeing something in terms of something
 The act of giving a thing a name that belongs to
something else.
Some examples:
 The teacher descended upon the exams, sank his
talons into their pages, ripped the answers to
shreds, and then, perching in his chair, began to
 That school is a jungle and the students the wild
animals within.
 The young women were cool and confident
lionesses, checking out their prey at the club.
 The baby’s quiet whimpers were a siren to the new
 Similes are metaphors that use “like” or “as” in their
 Her face was pale as the moon.
 My feet felt like concrete blocks after a hard day of
 The nurse was like an angel, all white and bringing
relief to the injured Marines.
Other kinds of figurative language
 Personification: giving human qualities to animals or
objects; giving lifelike qualities to nonliving things.
A smiling moon was in the sky.
The thunder growled to be let in.
The house’s windows were glowing eyes in the stormy
The book begged to be read.
The telephone’s jangle was a shrill cry in the quiet room.
The train lapped up the miles.
Why use metaphors?
 They enliven ordinary language.
 They are generous to readers and listeners; they encourage
 They are more efficient and economical than ordinary language; they
give maximum meaning with a minimum of words.
 They create new meanings; they allow you to write about feelings,
thoughts, experiences, etc. for which there are no easy words; they are
 They are a sign of genius.
Metaphors convey experience in a way
ordinary words cannot
 Life is a. . .
 rollercoaster, garden, prison, winding journey, full-time
job, rat race, jungle, circus
 Now you try:
 Love is like. . .
 An animal
 Love is like a wild tiger. It may be beautiful, but it’s also
 A place
 Love is like Disney World. It makes you feel like a child again.
 An appliance
 Love is like a washing machine. It spins you round and round.
 A meal
 Love is like an ice cream cone on a hot summer’s day. It’s sweet,
messy, and worth every penny.
Things to avoid when creating metaphors:
 Dead metaphors/clichés
 Clichés are expressions that were once clever or
original but, through constant use, have become worn
and boring.
Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what
you’re going to get.
Life is a journey, not a destination.
He is being a real bear today.
I was sick as a dog.
More. . .
 Last but not least
 Sick and tired
 Dead on my feet
 In a rut
 Time flies
 You took the words out of my mouth
 Can you think of any?
Creating new metaphors:
 For some people metaphors come easily, for others it
takes time and a lot of thinking
 In both cases, multiple revisions of the metaphors are
probably necessary
 I try to think of characteristics of the thing I want to
describe and then try to match it with something very
different that shares those characteristics. For
A way to approach composing metaphors:
 Try to think of the characteristics of the thing or
idea you are trying to explain:
 Redemption
 Characteristics: makes you feel born anew, gives hope,
wipes the slate clean, takes away sin and corruption,
What concrete things have these effects?
Water, rebirth, striking a record, clean places. . .
Rough attempt: Redemption is having your sins struck
from the record as if they never existed.
Redemption is like a freshly mowed field right after it rains.
How to integrate into your
persuasive essay and speech:
 Try to compare a person, group, action, subject, etc. to
something in your issue
 What is [fill in issue here] like?
 The current nursing situation
 The current climate crisis
 The current state of high gas prices
 The people arguing that video games are harmful
Figurative language examples
taken from student essays
 On the housing crisis:
 “The current housing crisis,
coupled with our present bad
economy, has hit our country
with a steel fist, and has
affected everyone and
 “While there are many
culprits who shoulder the
responsibility of our current
economic situation, a huge
contributor has been the rise
in subprime mortgages.”
 “Until the economy gets back on
its feet, there will be no way of
knowing which jobs will be safe
and which ones will not.”
 “The one bright light out of all
this darkness cast by the
housing crisis is the lesson that
the future generation can learn.”
Figurative Language Examples in the
“President-elect Barack Obama wants to make something very
clear: The economy is not going to immediately recover when he
takes his oath of office, but he has a plan to get the country
Obama introduced a recovery plan ‘equal to the task’ that would be
the largest public works spending program since the interstate
highway system was build a half-century ago.
‘We've got to provide a blood infusion to the patient right now
to make sure that the patient is stabilized. And that means
that we can't worry short term about the deficit. We've got to
make sure that the economic stimulus plan is large enough to get
the economy moving,’ Obama said during an interview that aired
Sunday on NBC's ‘Meet the Press.’”
Figurative Language Examples in
the News
"’I think several individuals are very frustrated to think that
President-elect Obama may just cut and paste from some
of the Democratic operatives from the Clinton
administration and put them into his White House,’ said
Leslie Sanchez, a Republican strategist and CNN
Republicans aren't the only ones who want Obama to branch
out. Robert Kuttner, a liberal and author of ‘Obama's
Challenge,’ says the president-elect should broaden his
recruiting efforts.”

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