Difference between revisions of "Loaded language"

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(Obama-Affirmative Action President)
(Examples: this one is a cake walk to cite!)
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*''Miscegenation'' is a loaded word because it carries with it the baggage of racist laws designed to prevent marriage between individuals of different races. Bob Jones University kept the concept alive by forbidding dating between the races.
 
*''Miscegenation'' is a loaded word because it carries with it the baggage of racist laws designed to prevent marriage between individuals of different races. Bob Jones University kept the concept alive by forbidding dating between the races.
 
*''States right''s is a loaded term, because it has been used politically to raise race as a wedge issue.
 
*''States right''s is a loaded term, because it has been used politically to raise race as a wedge issue.
*''Affirmative Action'' is a loaded term, and is frequently used to disparage the achievements of non-whites, e.g. Barack Obama being referred to as an ''Affirmative Action President''.
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*''Affirmative Action'' is a loaded term, and is frequently used to disparage the achievements of non-whites, e.g. Barack Obama being referred to as an ''Affirmative Action President''.{{fact}}

Revision as of 08:33, 31 July 2008

Loaded language is language that can be understood in a way contrary to its plain meaning. To look at a thesaurus, one might naively think that all the words listed as "synonyms" are interchangeable in meaning, but part of the reason that the English language has a need for a book like a thesaurus is that many words carry special shades of meaning that relate them to a particular context.

The use of such loaded language thus confers certain qualities on a statement that often amount to a type of emotional appeal -- the use of the term "family values", for example, on the surface means simply that which is necessary to a comfortable and stable family setting, but has come to be a code word for a specific conservative, religious political agenda that can be translated to "against abortion and homosexual rights"; on the other hand, "liberal" is used as an insult, implying that the person with the label disregards normal moral standards. The plain meaning of such a term often becomes obscured due to the prevalence of the coded meaning.

In situations where the meaning is intentionally obfuscated in order to disparage a particular minority or belief without raising an alarm among those who would be offended by the meaning, it is sometimes referred to as dog whistle politics, after the idea (often not actually true) that the out-group can't see past the plain meaning to the hidden message behind the words. Whether or not the out-group gets it, the in-group knows exactly what is meant by the code. For example, in certain setting in US politics, claiming to be "tough on crime" might be intended to subtly convey or take advantage of racism.

Normal examples

  • "Large" and "enormous" can be listed as synonyms, though a native speaker of English knows that "enormous" is used to convey something much larger than "large".
  • "Shameful" and "despicable" are listed as synonyms, but are quite different. "Shameful" is a term of gentle disapproval that your grandmother might use, while "despicable" is much stronger and more insulting.

Snarl words

The term snarl word is one derogatory label that can be attached to something, in order to ignore it or hate it without guilt. When used as a snarl words, these words are essentially meaningless; most of them can be used with meaning, but rarely are.

While not actually using the word, liberal comedian/pundit Al Franken went into great detail about the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy"'s use of snarl words and other forms of emotional appeal in his first political work, Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot, specifically referencing Newt Gingrich and Lee Atwater's political activities and conservative pressure groups' reliance on such tactics to slam through the 1994 Contract With America program.

Popular snarl words include:

Examples

  • Miscegenation is a loaded word because it carries with it the baggage of racist laws designed to prevent marriage between individuals of different races. Bob Jones University kept the concept alive by forbidding dating between the races.
  • States rights is a loaded term, because it has been used politically to raise race as a wedge issue.
  • Affirmative Action is a loaded term, and is frequently used to disparage the achievements of non-whites, e.g. Barack Obama being referred to as an Affirmative Action President.[citation needed]