2.4: Why words matter
In a nutshell
The following presents what you essentially need to know about this topic.
In a nutshell - Text version
- Words are the basic building blocks of arguments.
- The selection and arrangement of words in arguments influences interpretation and the production of meaning.
- Processes of critical thinking are usually represented in natural languages like English or Chinese.
- Effective critical thinking always requires close attention to how natural language is structured, and the purposes for which it is used.
- Arguments in natural language have both formal (‘relational) and ‘rhetorical’ (persuasive) aspects.
- Different views on the nature of language variously contest whether natural language either represents or constructs reality; whether linguistic structures are universal or specific to cultural context; and whether meanings are fixed or unstable and ambiguous.
- Denotation is the primary meaning of a word; connotations are the associated meanings of a word.
- A paradigm is a group of similar words belonging to the same category of things;
a syntagm is a particular combination of individual words chosen from various categories.
- Both paradigms and syntagms constitute the basis of sentence structure, and help determine the meanings which we make when using natural language.
- If you want more information about this topic, refer to ‘The complete’ version below.
The complete version
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