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Own Language Own Venom

Question

Bad language (i.e., profanity, obscenity, cursing, swearing, hate speech, etc.) is constantly being discussed in the newspaper, books, magazines, on the radio, on blogs, and other public arenas. Your assignment is to find two or three interesting articles about bad language that seem to be thematically related and use them as the basis for an essay about bad language in the news.            

How to Write this Essay

The easiest way to approach it is to produce 1to2 substantial paragraphs in which you summarize each article (sotwo articles equals 2to4 paragraphs). And then follow this with 1 -2 paragraphs of critical discussion. As you put together your critical discussion, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Is the author discussing bad language in a general way or focusing on some specific set of words (e.g., the f-word), or style of speaking(e.g., an accent?), or activity (e.g., texting)?
  • What sort of article is it (news, feature, editorial) and who is the intended audience for this article?
  • What is the tone of the article (humorous, critical, neutral/scientific)?
  • What is the author’s point of view regarding the bad language “stuff” that he or she is discussing? What do you think motivated themto write this piece?
  • What are the sources of information that the authors use (interviews, survey data, quotes from other publications, their own opinions)to make their case?

Resist the urge to bulk up your paper by covering many articles. Instead, try to squeeze as much juice as you can out of each one you choose. Use quotes from the article to help you accomplish this. 

What’s the most interesting or surprising thing that the author has to say? Stick it in your paper!

Do you agree or disagree with your authors? Say so, and explain why you feel this way.

How to Cite Your Sources

Since most of these articles are only one page long, you don’t need to cite page numbers in your essay, just the author’s name or the name of the article. So your citations ought to look like either A or B or C:

  1. According to scientists, hearing a curse word can cause rapid breathing, quickening pulse, and other signs of arousal (Angier).
  2. According to scientists, hearing a curse word can cause rapid breathing, quickening pulse, and other signs of arousal (“Almost Before We Spoke”).
  3. In “Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore” New York Times reporter Natalie Angier explains that:

[w]hen researchers in another study asked participants to quickly scan lists of words that included obscenities and then to recall as many of the words as possible, the subjects were, once again, best at rehashing the curses - and worst at summoning up whatever unobjectionable entries happened to precede or follow the bad bits.

Don’t forget to include a catchy or at least helpfully descriptive title at the beginning of the essay and a “References Cited” at the end of the paper, like so:

References Cited

Anger, Natalie. 2005. “Almost Before We Spoke, We Swore.” The New York Times. September 20, 2005.

Solution

Title: Own Language Own Venom
Length: 3 pages (825 Words)
Style: MLA

Preview

Own Language Own Venom

Human language is created by humans themselves and meant to be used by them. It is interesting that the same language becomes a media that make some people to be rendered as good while others as bad, hence becoming like venom. The article “Mind Your language! Swearing Around the World” by James Harbeck talks about the way speakers of different languages offend other people by not using the laid down regulations in the society. The author claims that bad words are not similar in all the world languages. He compares vulgar the language with the earth’s crust and the soil that human lives exist. If strong language that offends is used, then it erupts just like the volcano through the mantle causing the earthquake. One can just change the stress on the word and bring out the insult (Harbec).

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