Another of Dr Jenny’s tip: Analysing Arguments and Persuasive Techniques
Try avoid zooming in on the “go to techniques” (inclusive language, repetitive or emotive language, statistics, expert opinion and rhetorical questions) without a focus first on the context, and the author’s views, values and appeals.
Is the author “for” or “against” a scheme and why? What evidence and examples do they use to substantiate their views? What is their frame of reference?
In an opinion piece, an author builds their argument through a series of “examples” or scenarios. They will draw conclusions from these examples to support their viewpoint. These may be real-life examples, case studies, professional experience/example, personal experience or eye-witness accounts.
These examples are a clue to the author’s views. If there is more than one example, then the author is setting up a comparison; the author is broadening the argument; the author is corroborating their personal or professional example. What links do they draw between examples?
By working your examples, you will more intuitively contextualise an author’s techniques, such as expert references and statistics. You will notice a pattern of evidence which will enable you to dig deeper into the author’s views and values. In doing so, you will be able to analyse the language features in more depth.
Analysing an author’s evidence/examples:
- What is the link to the author’s views and values?
- Who is the stakeholder featured in the example?
- How are they described?
- What type of language does the author use? (language features); words placed together and in opposition;
- What is the tone?
- What does it prove? (Exemplify? Substantiate?)
- How does it position the audience?
- Who is the target audience? (general); Who is the target audience (specific)
- What other evidence does it complement (corroborate)
- And yes, here you can talk about the “go to techniques”; choose a cluster of words; how do they reinforce the author’s views?
- What links do they make between each example? How is this example typical, or corroborated with others to show a pattern of behaviour etc. – how does this strengthen the author’s views?
See our latest publication for a comprehensive guide to a smart structure and to the metalanguage that makes a difference: Argument Analysis and Persuasive Techniques