Distractions Through Language - Cites: Deborah Tannen, Alison Lurie, Stuart Hirschberg and Margaret Atwood

Essay by Prue750College, Undergraduate December 2006

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On a conscious level, a reader or consumer may look at an article and think, "That was interesting" or "Good point!" However on the subconscious level, the person will remember that specific product or idea simply because of what they read. The consumer is distracted by the overall "appearance" of the article or ad, and becomes digressed by it. The words have distracted them into thinking that they aren't looking at a product but simply a picture or piece of writing. I think that most commonly, language has a way of distracting the reader into thinking they see one thing, when really they are seeing another. There are many occasions where language can distract including false impressions of specific words or phrases, connotative language in ads, and even the body language and the "language of clothes."

One form of distraction lies in the misinterpretation of words. Simply based on a person's upbringing, they may interpret a word to mean one thing, when really it is intended to mean something completely different.

In the article titled "Pornography," written by Margaret Atwood, she discusses this exact point. While delivering a speech, she used the word "pornography" in reference to sadistic rituals performed on males and females. However the press understood this word only by its more connotative definition of "naked bodies and sex." This misunderstanding led to a few problems later on. Here is one of Atwood's quotes: "Some time after that...I found myself on an open-line radio show answering questions about "pornography." Almost no one who phoned in was in favor of it, but again they weren't talking about the same stuff I was."

This situation only goes to show how the language distracted from the real issue. It may serve well to know that on the radio show...