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This assignment is designed to give you practice in another technique of persuasive writing, that of defining a cultural value or other key term in such a way that seems credible to your reader. Your ability to credibly define your terms will help you to contribute to a range of public discourse in influential ways.
Identify an instance in a document, broadcast, or conversation in which the meaning an author assigns to a word is debatable. You are not looking for an instance in which someone uses a term incorrectly, such as using the word “antidote” to refer to a short story. Rather, you are looking for an instance in which a person applies a word to an object or situation and you disagree with the person’s evaluation of that object or situation.
When you have your example, then answer for yourself the following question: Why is it important to dispute the meaning of that word? Your answer to that question will eventually become the thesis of your paper.
Begin your essay by getting our attention, using vivid language, previewing your definition of the disputed word, then present your thesis, followed by your preview of main points. Following your introduction, present your research on your word that supports the usage for which you advocate.
There are a number of ways to establish a precedent for a preferred meaning of a term, including reference to a dictionary, though that reference should not be limited to Merriam Webster’s.
You can trace the etymology of your word in the Oxford English Dictionary, which is available electronically via the university library: http://catalog.sjlibrary.org/record=b1879016~S1
Other dictionaries you can search include:
Another way to establish the meaning of a term is to show how others use it, even if that usage is common only to a certain group of people. To do this, you will need to compile examples of others using your word in the manner for which you advocate. This research might include reference to the term’s equivalent in other languages.
A third strategy for establishing the meaning of a term is to define related terms. For instance, if you are establishing the meaning of maturity, you may also want to define experienced, responsible, and established.
After establishing a precedent for your preferred meaning, explain the difference it will make to use that meaning over another. In this section of the paper, you will want to provide specific examples of how the word’s meaning can or will influence decision-making and social action.
You will also be making strategic choices in your writing style involving different kinds of statements to advance an argument. This can involve what kinds of statements you use the most and why they are important. Therefore, you are required to label one example of a value claim and Interpretive claim. Below are two examples:
Value claim: For example: “SJSU’s EOP advances an equity-minded approach to education.” Or, “The Mineta Institute dedicates its resources to promoting sustainable forms of transportation.” (Value claims in italics.)
Interpretive claim: For example: “Her letter suggests that she equates ‘political’ with ‘corrupt’.”
Conclude your paper with a brief summary of your argument and re-statement of your thesis.
You paper should be 1500 words in length not including endnotes, bibliography, or references page. The final draft of the paper must be submitted via Canvas, and double-spaced with one-inch margins. Use 12 pt. font, preferably Times New Roman. Please do not include a title page or my name. Simply include your name, the semester, and the assignment (single-spaced) at the top of the first page. Citations should be formatted in accordance with either MLA or APA guidelines. Those guidelines can be found in The Pocket Wadsworth Handbook and the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): http://owl.english.purdue.edu/. Even when you reference a dictionary available online, be sure to provide a complete citation for the text, including the names of editors and publishers.
Your meaning of…essay requires at least ten outside sources, which include scholarly sources (i.e., Peer Reviewed articles). For more information, please read: