In rhetoric, loaded language (also known as loaded term, emotive language, high-inference language or language persuasive techniques) is wording that attempts to influence the certain audience by using an appeal to emotion.
Loaded words and phrases have strong emotional implications and involve strongly positive or negative reactions beyond their literal meaning. For example, the phrase tax relief refers literally to changes that reduce the amount of tax citizens must pay. However, use of the emotive word relief implies that all tax is an unreasonable burden to begin with. Examples of loaded language are "You want to go to the mall, don't you?" and "Do you really want to associate with those people?".
The appeal to emotion is often seen as being in contrast to an appeal to logic and reason. However, emotion and reason are not necessarily always in conflict, nor is it true that an emotion cannot be a reason for an action. Murray and Kujundzic distinguish "prima facie reasons" from "considered reasons" when discussing this. A prima facie reason for, say, not eating mushrooms is that one does not like mushrooms. This is an emotive reason. However, one still may have a considered reason for not eating mushrooms: one might consume enough of the relevant minerals and vitamins that one could obtain from eating mushrooms from other sources. An emotion, elicited via emotive language, may form a prima facie reason for action, but further work is required before one can obtain a considered reason.
Emotive arguments and loaded language are particularly persuasive because they exploit the human weakness for acting immediately based upon an emotional response, without such further considered judgment. Due to such potential for emotional complication, it is generally advised to avoid loaded language in argument or speech when fairness and impartiality is one of the goals. Anthony Weston, for example, admonishes students and writers: "In general, avoid language whose only function is to sway the emotions".
Euphemism is an attempt to avoid loaded language with undesirable connotations, but it often introduces new loaded language.
Other articles related to "loaded language, language":
... Psychologist Robert Jay Lifton considers loaded language to be a brainwashing technique "New words and language are created to explain the new and profound meanings that have been discovered ...
Famous quotes containing the words language and/or loaded:
“Theres a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.”
—Robert Graves (18951985)
“Alas for America as I must so often say, the ungirt, the diffuse, the profuse, procumbent, one wide ground juniper, out of which no cedar, no oak will rear up a mast to the clouds! It all runs to leaves, to suckers, to tendrils, to miscellany. The air is loaded with poppy, with imbecility, with dispersion, & sloth.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)