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Language and Power Essay Sample

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Language and Power Essay Sample

Power is gained in many ways throughout the text. Text I has been written, primarily, to persuade an audience to share their (bwag) views on the new Sainsburys being built in their “medieval heritage” town of Bishops Waltham, therefore it is aimed at residents of the town who are old enough to write a valid letter of complaint – age 18-70. Firstly, imperatives are used to be assertive right from the beginning of the text. The word “write” in “write a letter today” immediately sets a forward and confident tone to the text, making the matter seem important. As Bishops Waltham is a town without a superstore, this suggests it is small. This also suggests that the bwag group is also small therefore may not be well known to the town members as they are having to publicise their issues. By having imperatives, it makes the group come across as secure to the audience and therefore gaining their trust from the beginning.

The imperative “write” is also in capital, bold letters right at the top of the page included in the title. This clever graphology compliments the use of the imperative by making it stand out. Because this is a leaflet through the letterbox, many people would normally regard it as junk mail and not take a second look. Because of the imperative in the title, it encourages people to read on and find out what the important-looking matter is. Furthermore, at the bottom of the page, the final sentence used is a minor one, containing the words “WRITE NOW” in capital, bold letters, once again. This is to reinforce the message that is stated in the title, allowing them to gain power over the readers mind and therefore their decisions. The use of a minor sentence at the end makes it stand out from the rest of the paragraph, again backing up the point. Due to the nature of the piece being an advertisement trying to persuade the audience to do as they wish, influential power is being put upon the audience here to make them do as they wish. Secondly, a serious semantic field is created by key lexis throughout the text.

The abstract nouns “objection” and “deadline” both have serious connotations of hard work and the law. As the law is seen as a very serious matter by everyone, the use of jargon and words that have connotations of the law, backs up the seriousness that the text is trying to portray. Although the piece asserts influential power, using jargon of the law makes it seem as if instrumental power is being asserted. These abstract nouns add a severe tone to the piece which
forces the audience to think of consequences too. Because the consequence of a Sainsburys being built is exaggerated “…the huge increase in traffic.” and “…destroy the vitality.” Panic is aroused within the reader as to what might happen if they don’t abide by what they’re being told to do as well as thinking of the guilt that they will feel. This leads to the bwag group gaining power over the audience by making them feel guilty and putting blame on them if a Sainsburys were to be built.

Due to the group proclaiming serious consequences on the towns people if they do not write letters, the consequences seem drastic, once again making it feel like instrumental power in the form of the law – they have no choice to follow the instructions as there will be consequences. In addition, bias is also used to sway the audience decision, making them agree with their (bwag) views and therefore gaining respect as the audience now see that what they are trying to do is right and should therefore look up to them. By listing off different negative points such as “…diminished forever” and “…cause severe problems on our narrow B roads” and not giving any positives for the readers to compare with, bias is helping bwag gain the audience vote.

Through gaining votes and getting people to write letters, residents begin to see bwag as a group that are trying to do the right thing and therefore they should be better supported, causing bwag to have more power over more people. The adjectives “severe” and “narrow” are used as hyperboles to enhance the bias points being made even further. By having a negative semantic field within the bias points, from the verb “diminished” and the adjective “severe” it makes the audience unable to think of a positive thought while reading this as a pessimistic manner has been set over the leaflet. Fact is also used as a highly persuasive feature to gain the trust of the readers. “For 18 months Bishops Waltham Action Group have been campaigning…”

Opening up with a fact just after using the concrete noun “resident” and addressing them personally, immediately starts to convince the audience that what they are about to read is not just a piece of junk mail, but something to do with their community that is factual and worth reading about. After reading the fact and seeing that bwag have been campaigning for 18 months, the audience can see how much hard work has been put into this from bwag, instantly gaining them more respect from the start as well as reinforcing the importance of the imperative “write” in the title. As well as being directly addressed, just as a letter would with “dear resident”, personal pronouns are used throughout to make the residents feel like they are being taken care of and spared some of the bwag groups precious time. Other personal pronouns such as “you” in “Even if you are not sure…” make it feel like the matter in hand is directly affecting them personally as well as them that is being talked to.

This once again links back to the guilt factor and consequences that they will receive if they do not take any action, therefore making bwag seem like the more noble people as they are already the driving force behind the campaign – allowing them to gain power by appearing like the bigger man. Finally, deontic modal auxiliary verbs are used to remove possibility and a level of uncertainty that you get with epistemic modals, to force the audience once again into believing that they have to do what is being said. The verb “must” in “You must quote both” and “You must also include…” quickly follows the personal pronoun you, this makes it clear to the reader who is being addressed. The term “you must” is also repeated several times throughout text I. This is another method of strengthening the point being made and making the reader remember what has been said. Rhetorical questions that are answered ,are also used to make the reader think and make bwag seem more intelligent and look like they have done their research.

“IS THIS A CHANCE WORTH TAKING?” followed by “Time is short. This is where the real fight starts” shows more confidence in what bwag are saying as well as once again being assertive. Overall power is gained through gaining the audience trust and getting them on side, as well as slightly guilt tripping them and making themselves (bwag) seem like the more noble people. Graphology is used to catch the eye and initially engage the reader, however afterwards, it is all down to persuasive features and power-gaining tactics that are cleverly used throughout the text.

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