Why 'Redskins' Is A Bad Word Analysis

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Recently, the use of controversial words has become a heavily debated topic and has gained international attention as seemingly truthful statements to some, cause insult to others. The Times article "Why 'Redskins' Is a Bad Word", by acclaimed linguist and professor John McWhortor, was published around the time the use of the word Redskin was being debated. In the article, McWhortor aims to clarify the condemnation of the word Redskin, by suggesting that the offence does not stem from the literal definition of such words, but instead the negative and often derogatory connotations the words have. McWhorter begins by introducing the recent discussions surrounding the use of the word Redskins, especially the actions taken by Californian schools…show more content…
He begins in a sympathizing and an informal tone, acknowledging both readers, those who may consider the words offensive and those who do not. McWhortor contrasts the different opinions in order to engage both sides of the argument together. An example being when he describes the refusal of the Redskins owner to change the name as "callous and antique", while also questioning the validity of why the word should not be used in a rhetorical question. This use of pathos makes each reader feel included in the article and allows them to be more welcoming of his suggestions by lessening the tension. Additionally, it increases his own ethos as it emphasizes that he is conscious of both opinions and wishes to better the community as a whole. The emotional appeal is furthered during later parts of the article. For instance, McWhortor proves word have connotation through the use of anecdotal and somewhat historical evidence when he uses direct examples of controversial…show more content…
He also uses pathos in an anecdotal story that compared how the statements referring to a person as "a Jew" to "Jewish, as well when contrasting how the term "blacks" compare to "black people". These words cause a powerful response from readers, as the words he used have been used in ways to demean and stereotype certain groups. The chosen words were also used intentionally in order to reach the large and diverse audience of the Times, who may have been able to feel the negative undertones in some or most of the words. It could be said that the use of these words does not cause a dramatic impact on every reader, especially those who do not have the same knowledge and connection to the words, therefore weakening the claim. However, the words chosen have been considered taboo in society for a long time, and many readers have grown up knowing that it is offensive to say despite the literal meaning. Therefore, he is able to successfully explain his argument by appealing to pathos through guilt, and increasing his ethos at this same time, since readers can personally connect to what he is
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