Kakutani’s “Word Police” Essay

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In Michiko Kakutani’s essay. “The Word Police. ” the writer uses illustrations. illustrations and definitions to back up the claim that our linguistic communication is on the threshold of absurdness because we hide our true individualities and inequalities with euphemisms. In respect to euphemisms. Kakutani states that they “tend to deflect attending from the existent jobs of bias and unfairness in society” ( 423 ) . Although the essay is persuasive and supported good. the writer falls short of carrying her indifferent audience because of insistent and boring unfavorable judgments of the politically right motions. Her statement lacks absolution in her failure to supply her audience with an alternate solution.

Kakutani opens with the claim the political rightness is prevailing in society today. For support she uses several illustrations of icons that are being redeveloped to pacify the turning demand for P. C. These include Little Miss Coppertone. who will shortly hold a male equivalent. and Superman. who will come in four new spirits. In utilizing these familiar. mainstream merchandises. Kakutani sways the audience in her way while consolidating her claim. She besides makes us cognizant of her antipathy to politically right motions with the usage of her irony in restituting the words “Miss” and “Superman. ” The writer so discusses a more considerable issue. that of the contention over our linguistic communication.

“Political correctness” defined by Kakutani as “a vision of a more merely. inclusive society in which racism. sexism and bias of all kinds have been erased. ” ( 421 ) has good purpose. but the methods used by politically right militants to accomplish their ends are excessively utmost. This. in bend. will merely take to the “scorn of conservative oppositions and the jeer of cartoonists and late-night telecasting hosts” ( 421 ) . To formalize her claim. Kakutani uses the illustration of a adult female altering “testimony” to “ovarimony” at a Modern Language Association. This illustration supports her claim and persuades the audience to hold that the techniques used by P. C. groups are inordinate. To further her claim. she besides adds a list of normally used words and phrases. such as “charley horse” and “lazy susan” that. in a politically right linguistic communication. would ne’er be acceptable and debates the necessity and feasibleness of altering them.

The writer besides believes that the voguish rush of P. C. lexicons going available to us is organizing a new manner of speech production and authorship. The bulk of Kakutani’s endorsing for this is Rosalie Maggio’s book The Bias-Free Word Finder. a Dictionary of Nondiscriminatory Language. Maggio offers over 5. 000 bias words and phrases to avoid. every bit good as techniques on how to do one’s speech production and composing less violative. In order to back up her statement that politically right linguistic communication is on the brink being pathetic. she farcically reconstructs several popular phrases with the usage of Maggio’s “dictionary. ” Leonardo DiVinci’s “Mona Lisa” becomes his “acme of flawlessness. ” while “king of the jungle” becomes “monarch of the jungle. ” The utmost illustration is an first-class technique for converting her audience. but her narrow comprehensiveness of beginnings causes the reader to doubt whether or non she has any other support.

Kakutani so inquires as to who will accept and populate by these P. C. regulations. Her usage of sarcasm as a persuasion technique is really efficient when she states that Maggio’s book will most likely ne’er become a basic in the mean schoolroom. or be “adopted by the mean adult male ( regretful. single ) ” ( 421 ) . She so argues that these “P. C. dictionaries” merely create confusion among at that place ain protagonists with there self-contradictions.

More cogent evidence for Kakutani’s claim is an illustration from Language. Gender. and Professional Writing. by Francine Wattman Frank and Paula A. Treichler of the Modern Language Association. In the book. Frank and Treichler province that utilizing “he” or “she” is an “appropriate building for speaking about an single ( like a jockey. say ) who belongs to a profession that’s preponderantly male” ( 422 ) . Kakutani points out that subsequently in the book. the writers contradict themselves by saying. “using masculine pronouns rhetorically can underline on-going male laterality in those Fieldss. connoting the demand for change” ( 422 ) . This illustration regains the trust of Kakutani’s readers. The commendation accomplishes its end in act uponing the audience to hold with her claim and causes the reader to inquire what good the politically right militants are making if they can non even agree with their egos. With the readers trust regained and the support of Kakutani’s belief. the writer returns into her most persuasive statement.

Kakutani discusses Maggio’s suggestion to replace politically wrong words and phrases with symbols in order to pull attending to the fact that those words and phrases are improper. Refuting this thought. Kkautani proclaims that Maggio’s doctrine offers no existent solution to take dogmatism from our state. In actuality. Maggio’s suggestions focus merely on the surface of the word or phrase being corrected and non it’s content. Kakutani supports her claim with the illustration of when Mark Twain’s authoritative. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. was under consideration for being eliminated from school course of studies because it was labeled racialist due to the fact that it included the word “nigger. ” By utilizing such a well-known incident. Kakutani once more convinces the reader to hold with her claim. in portion because of the common land that the incident creates. The support succeeds in carrying and constructing Communion with the reader since most good educated persons have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and are cognizant that the book has no racialist intent.

Kakutani so argues that the politically right actions taken to rectify our linguistic communication are in world falsifying the significances of the words being attacked. Using the booklet. “Dictionary of Cautionary Words and Phrases” as an illustration. Kakutani lists non-prejudicial words that are labeled discriminatory. She relates her claim to words used to depict the Vietnam War and Watergate by the authorities. Using two incidents that are associated negatively to the reader. the writer succeeds in converting her audience.

Kakutani following repeats her allegation that the replacement of politically right words by symbols or other words is non a solution to stop jobs. alternatively it will “make it easier to shrug off the earnestness of their situation” ( 423 ) . Once once more. Kakutani retreats to an illustration from Maggio’s book to examine her claim. Concluding. Kakutani states that the actions taken by the politically right militants are being “purchased at the cost of freedom of look and freedom of speech” ( 424 ) . She ends her statement with an illustration of how the Gettysburg Address would sound if it had been written in a politically right mode.

Overall. Kakutani loses the readers attending towards the terminal of her argument. She convinces the indifferent audience that the politically right motions are flawed. but fails to full carry them to hold with her position that they are uneffective. The usage of so many illustrations from the same beginning entices the reader to chew over the legitimacy of her statements. One book is non plenty land to convert a sophisticated. intelligent reader. Furthermore. Kakutani’s disregard to propose an alternate solution to the 1 offered by the politically right advocators makes her try seem unfinished. and casts a negative shadow over Kakutani’s full argument.

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