September 17, 2012


One point in this article that really hit me was in the second paragraph when Barton is listing some examples of the negative terminology that has worked its way into our cultural lexicon. This is a problem we have in our society, particularly the younger part of it. These words continue to be used to describe anything that “doesn’t work right”, despite the general knowledge that it is “politically incorrect”, and that term is usually said in an aside sneer, to do so. And when a person is called out on it or asked to stop, the usual defense is that they ‘didn’t mean it like that’ and that other person needs to lighten up.

The problem is that, like Barton says in her article, these words have that instant connotation of Other; that as a person, they are not normal, that they don’t “work right”, even when it’s not aimed at a particular person. “Retarded” means something different, something alienating, something other than human. Even under the guise of helping, these words create a very substantial barrier between those who are ‘normal’ and those who are not, and of course, if those that are not normal, must have something wrong with them, and therefore deserve pity. No matter what the intention is, the word choice will always have those connotations attached to it. the point in conjugation to our particular class though is why word choice is so incredibly important in the art of rhetoric. Even if certain words are synonymous with each other, everything has a particular connotation and means something ever so slightly different. That is why every word must be picked with care, and with specific intent.

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