Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Human Effects on the Environment

The correct language used in an article has a strong affect on how people respond to the author’s argument. One must know their audience and how to approach them in a dignified and respectful manner, as well as saying what they believe and want to convince the readers of. In Perspectives of the Environment, Jutka Terris writes an article titled, “Unwelcome (Human) Neighbors: The Impacts of Sprawl on Wildlife”. Many emotions can be stirred with this article and the type of language she uses will be analyzed.

In order to successfully reach out to an audience, you must know how they think and react to certain situations. Terris reaches out to those who are eco-friendly, care about the environment, and especially those who care about animal conservation. But what about the readers who do not agree with animal conservation? If they were to read this article, would they be convinced through Terri’s argument to become conservationists? The first thing a reader notices is the title. It catches their attention and makes them curious. This title, “Unwelcome (Human) Neighbors: The Impacts of Sprawl on Wildlife”, is unique and may catch the attention of readers, perhaps not in a good way. Nobody likes to hear that humans are unwelcome. As a society, power has become the norm and anything depriving somebody of that power is assumed to be bad. Thus, when this author states that people are unwelcome, the suggestion that animals are more important and more powerful comes to mind. This may increase the number of people who read the article, just out of anger, or there are those who readily agree with Terris. Thus, the phrasing of this title affects certain audiences in different ways.

The language an author uses is very important. Terris enhances the effect of human expansion on animals by using imagery. Such an example follows, “In just the last few decades, rapidly growing human settlements have consumed large amounts of land in our country, while wildlife habitats have shrunk, fragmented, or disappeared altogether” (Terris, 45). The words “consumed”, “shrunk”, “fragmented”, and “disappeared” all create a negative connotation. This connotation allows readers to recognize how our own development in rural and urban communities destroys the habitats of animals. It also allows readers to imagine what is occurring and people can literally see how their own growth affects not only themselves, but the animals around them. Terris reaches out to the emotion of people, or pathos, assuming that by creating a visualization of the destruction of animal habitats, people will want to change how they live and change society. Therefore, the use of imagery allows readers to understand and relate emotionally to the author’s argument.

Another writing tactic to entice readers is overstatement, or hyperbole. The use of exaggeration makes readers think a situation is worse or better than it actually may be. Terris enhances her argument by using overstatements like when stating, “In Southern California, another booming area, the coastal sage ecosystem is unraveling. Sprawling developments has wiped out…this landscape…and, as a result, the region has experienced a dramatic loss of native species” (Terris, 47). By using “wiped out” and “dramatic loss” an exaggeration causes readers to think that all species living in Southern California are annihilated and cannot live there. Terris does not specify what has exactly happened to unravel the ecosystem, creating an overstatement and a generalization. Readers should question where this information comes from and how reliable the source is. Thus, when overstatements and generalizations are used, readers should be wary and inquire of the credibility of the author and their ethos.

The language used affects readers in certain ways. Language catches their attention and encourages them to read further to understand what argument is being presented. Other types of language will distract readers and leave them uninterested. In Terris’ article, she tries to connect with readers emotionally through imagery and overstatements. Her generalizations can reach many types of audiences, but ultimately she reaches out to those who desire to help the ecosystem and animal habitats. Thus, her use of language affects her argument and supports how people should be wary of the effect they have on the ecosystem.

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