Emotive Language plays a duel role. It symbolizes and expresses our feelings but it also arouses or evokes feelings in others (Chaffee, 2000). When we say, I adore you, we are usually not merely expressing our adoration of another person; we are also hoping to inspire a similar feeling in that person. We want him or her to say the same thing in return to us.
Sometimes, even when communicating factual information, we use emotive language in order to interest people in what we are saying. In other words, we arouse their emotions in order to help them relate to our point and to accept our viewpoint. For example, politicians are constantly using emotive language in order to play upon our emotions so that we will more readily accept their ideas and opinions; and television evangelists, talk-show hosts, and self-help gurus are all experts at manipulating our feelings through the use of emotive language (Chaffee, 2000).
One way to look at the meaning and power of emotive language is to look at words on a scale from mild to strong. For example:
Research demonstrates that we tend to perceive ourselves favorably (I am firm); and if we are speaking to someone face-to-face, we view him or her only somewhat less favorably than we view ourselves (You are stubborn). However, if a third person is not present, we tend to use stronger emotive language to describe him or her (He is pigheaded) (Chaffee, 2000).
Now its your turn. Use this technique with at least two of the following emotive words: overweight, daring, confused, forgetful, curious, carefree, or individualistic.
- I am ______________; you are__________________; but he/she is ______________________.
- I am _______________; you are_________________; but he/she is ______________________.
What do you think your choices say about you?
Chaffee, J. (2000) Thinking Critically. Houghton Mifflin. New York.