Good Essay About Rhetorical Analysis

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Politics, Logic, Emotions, Language, Supreme Court, Appeal, Audience, Public Relations

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/16


Rhetoric in an argument consists of appeals to one’s logos, or logic, ethos, or ethics, and pathos, or emotions. When combined, and used correctly, these tools can create an impenetrable argument. When used incorrectly, the argument collapses in on itself like a dying star. Rush Holt’s article concerning American’s learning foreign language engages all three facets of rhetoric in an attempt to convince readers of how important being bilingual, or trilingual is in today’s world. While he asserts logic accurately, earning himself a great deal of credibility, his article flails as he attempts to appeal to the audience’s emotions on a subject as delicate as politics and intercultural relations. He complicates an issue that is uncomplicated by logic because he evidently believes he need patriotism to back his stance.

Arguments are a powerful thing, especially when one employs the use of rhetoric. Crippling ones senses with pathos, ethos, and logos is often detrimental to any opposition one may hope to launch. In Holt Rush’s, “Why Foreign Language Matters” article, published on Huffington Post’s website, each of these tactics are used to convince the reader. In an expert execution, Holt is able to use two of the three essential parts of rhetoric: logic and credibility, to help fortify his argument. However, his argument begins to fall apart when he relies on paths; using patriotism, as well as passion in an effort to fuel an argument that is already supported by solid logic, the reader begins to question Holt’s honesty, as well as his credibility, causing the entire argument to collapse. .
The primary point of Holt’s work is bi-and even trilingual individuals are an asset. In a government setting, speaking more than one language should be valued, rather than shunned. He states the government “lacks translators,” capable of translating data in foreign languages today that could help prevent terrorist attacks . Furthermore, he confesses the government had, “123,000-hour backlog of Arabic recordings,” occurring after 9/11 that had not been translated because there simply was not anybody on staff to do the work . He shunned individuals who mocked then Illinois Senator Barack Obama for encouraging American to become more integrated linguistically, and praised then President Bush for encouraging the same. Rhetorically, much of the article was left to appeal to logic. However, Holt also used an appeal to emotions to convince the readers.
While Holt never presents himself as a U.S. Congressman, he does fluidly reveal throughout the article that he, too, is an American, and the logic he sees is plain to him. According to, “Rhetoric and Design,” this is a ploy to appeal to the audience’s ethics . The author makes a logical case, therefore making themselves appear ethical or believable in the process. Consequently, the audience is ablt to believe them easier than before. When Holt speaks about bilingual government employees and the possibility of foiling terrorist attacks, this is a logical relation, appealing not only to logos, but also ethos . Holt is a logical man and, therefore, trustworthy.
While his arguments are logical, and lend him credibility without his needing to beg for it, this is not enough for him. He still uses several instances in the article to appeal to the audience’s pathos, or emotions. Emotions, primarily passion and intensity, are very easy to stir, especially within Americans after 9/11. Many would be against foreign languages being learned because the attacks were perpetrated by foreign people. As patriots, those individuals do not want anything foreign in “their” country. In a common trick noted in, “Reading Rhetorically,” Holt uses this same emotion and turns it against the audience, claiming that if we do not use the assumed “enemy’s” language, they may attack us again. Holt also suggests in the beginning of his article that capturing Bin Laden may be easier with the use of translators. The article was written in 2008; Bin Laden was captured in 2011. While some foreign language initiatives had been taken under the command of President Obama, translation was not the sole reason, nor the defining factor in why the American government was able to find the terrorist leader and kill him. The American people did not know it yet, but Holt was lying to them more than they realized in an effort to gain their emotions; patriotism is a powerful thing. There is logic in the idea that if terrorist cells speaking foreign languages are translated we may be able to prevent attacks. But in order to engage the reader’s emotion, it is essential that Holt insinuates we may have already missed preventing terrorist attacks, hence the 143,000 hours of backlogged, untranslated airtime, and the mere 33 FBI personnel who speak desperately needed foreign languages .
Essentially, Holt has made a complex situation where there needs not be one. The appeal to emotions reads as a ploy for patriotism and revelry, rather than a logical argument for why foreign language is legitimately good for the country, its business, and its government. Those who do not see Holt’s attempt to rally patriotism from readers are likely all too excited to jump on the nearest patriotic bandwagon. Others, however, who are interested in facts, seek only logic and truth. Unfortunately, his pale attempt for emotional support negates the legitimacy his use of logic earned him . Readers may be further forced to question if his facts are sound. To simplify the situation, Holt should omit any material that apeals to the average American’s patriotic passion, and stick to the bare facts.
In sum, arguing rhetorically can be effective when performed correctly. Holt delivered acute rhetoric based on ethos and logos for most of his article. He appeals to the audience’s logical sensibilities, and earned credibility for doing so. However, his attempts to engage the audience’s pathos, or emotions, detracted from his credibility quickly. Prior to this, his argument would have been nearly impenetrable, as being bilingual is logical in today’s world and in many cases, logic is all you need. When he began inserting pleas for passion and emotion into his argument, the logic behind the argument was also questions, as emotions are often irrational, and have no logical base. While his audience was probably individuals who were likely to vehemently disagree with an push for foreign language initiatives, and he did succeed in promoting ethos, logos, and pathos, Holt’s use of pathos condemned his article.

Works Cited

Ballard, G. and L.J. Koskela. "Rhetoric and Design." University of Salford Manchester. USIR, 19 August 2013.
Bean, John C., Virgina A. Chappell and Alice m. Gillam. Reading Rhetorically. Boston: Pearson, 2014. Book.
Holt, Rush. "Why Foreign Language Education Matters." 19 October 2008. Electronic Document. 11 March 2015.

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