Task 1A: Connotations of the word "migrant"

Task 1A in your exam set asks you to comment on the writer’s use of language and literary devices as a means of persuading the reader of his points of view.

Outline

The text you have to analyse is called “Mediterranean 'migrants' - the connotations and misgivings of one eight-letter word” and it is an adaptation of an article published by journalist Joe Smith on the Al Jazeera English news network.

The text is written in the first-person and it presents the way in which migrants are depicted in the media. The author encourages readers to put themselves in the shoes of migrants who need to reassure their children that life is going to turn out to be OK in the end.

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Comment

In order to persuade readers of his point of view, journalist Joe Smith makes use of several linguistic and literary devices.

Direct argumentation is obvious from the very beginning of the text, as the author directly addresses the readers and states his point of view:

“I am asking you to place yourself in the shoes of another. I want you to put your preconceptions aside, remove the blinders we comfortably hide behind, not unlike the ostrich with its head in the sand, and open your eyes to the Mediterranean situation as if it were happening to you.” (ll. 1-3)

The dominant form of appeal in the article is pathos (the resort to emotions and feelings). The author invites readers to make an exercise of imagination and put themselves in the shoes of a migrant parent:

“Imagine waking your children in the morning. Imagine feeding and dressing them. Imagine pulling a little girl’s hair into a ponytail, arguing with a little boy about which pair of shoes he wants to wear. Now imagine, as you are doing that, you know later today you will strap their vulnerable bodies into enveloping life jackets and take them with you in a rubber dinghy – through treacherous waters that have claimed all too many who have done the same.” (ll. 4-8)

The above fragment relies on the emotions of readers – especially of those who are parents. The reference to children is meant to shift the readers’ opinions and make them more sensitive regarding the refugee crisis.

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