Online TOEFL Course Integrated Writing Practice Test: Doublespeak

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The article states that euphemism, jargon and inflated languages are used to avoid the painful reality. However, the professor does agree with the article and argues each of the type of the ways of languages use to avoid the reality.

First, the article posits that euphemism is the inoffensive positive word used to avoid the harsh, disdainful or unpleasant reality e.g expressing condolence for the person who has passed away rather than telling directly. However, the professor thinks that its a form of double speak which is often used to mislead the people from the reality e.g use of the phrase of “unlawful or obituary deprivation of life” instead of directly using the word “killing” for the friendly states of US in which government supported killing was going on.

Second, the article illustrates the jargon language use of doctor, lawyer, educator or car mechanic in professional settings to communicate clearly and quickly. However, the professor says that it can also be misleading for the members outside from the group. In addition, he gives the example of national airliner briefing in which the words “involuntary conversion of 727” was used instead of direct word “plane crash” which was misleading.

Third, the article says that inflated language is used to describe ordinary things in an extraordinary manner. It gives the example of a car mechanic describing his job in a way which gives the impression of an important job. However, the professor again says that it would mislead the people e.g use of the words “negative patient outcome” by the doctor instead of “death of the patient”

In the end the professor concluded that these type of languages are carefully designed to mislead the people.

Lecture Script:

Reading Passage (393 words): Examples of Double Speak

Euphemisms, jargon, and inflated language can also be forms of doublespeak when they are used to deceive or mislead others. When I say the word doublespeak, I use it within the context of a type of language that pretends to communicate but really doesn’t. It is language that makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive. Doublespeak is language that avoids or shifts responsibility, language that is at variance with its real or purported meaning.

When a euphemism is used to mislead or deceive, it can become a form of doublespeak. For example, in 1984 the U.S. State Department announced that it would no longer use the word “killing” in its annual report on the status of human rights in countries around the world. Instead, it would use the phrase “unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of life,” which the department claimed was more accurate. Its real purpose for using this phrase was to avoid discussing the embarrassing situation of government-sanctioned killings in countries that are supported by the United States.

Jargon, like the euphemism, can also be a form of doublespeak. Consider this: When a member of specialized group uses its jargon to communicate with a person outside the group and uses it knowing the nonmember does not understand such language, then it is a form of doublespeak. To illustrate, National Airlines, in referring to a plane crash that occurred on May 9, 1978, used the phrase “involuntary conversion of a 727” to refer to the incident. You see the airline company did not want to use the words “plane crash” in its annual report to its stock holders for fear it would bring down the price of its stock.

Finally, inflated language can be used to deceive. You may have trouble figuring out that when a company “initiates a career alternative enhancement program,” it is really laying off 5,000 workers. Or, when a doctor says that “negative patient care outcome,” it means the patient died. Consider when the owner of a nuclear power plant says to the general public there was “rapid oxidation” when he actually means there was a fire. In all of these instances, inflated language is used to prevent others from understanding what is actually being said.

These examples of doublespeak should make it clear that doublespeak is not the product of careless or sloppy thinking. Indeed, most doublespeak is carefully designed and constructed to appear to communicate when it actually doesn’t. It is language designed to mislead.

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