Essay on Language as a Persuasion Tool

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Sewanee University of the South
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In his book, Donald Norman uses sarcasm to grab the attention of the reader. He begins by reporting a conversation between two people; one who has a brand new watch which he doesnt know how to use, and thinks that an engineering degree is needed for him to use it. The other has two engineering degrees from MIT but needs some time to figure out how the watch works (Norman, 2013, pg 1). He raises the curiosity of the audience and grabs their attention at the same time. At this point one reading the book would be interested in finding out why an engineer would ask for more time to figure out the functionality of a simple digital watch. If a simple digital watch requires time to figure out, what about other everyday appliances? one would ask.

William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their book Cradle to Cradle, awaken our subconscious mind by painting a picture that is familiar to most people, if not all. They gradually develop their content by talking about items that are closest to us (McDonough et al, 2010, pg. 3). We use them almost on a daily basis without thinking about the effects they might have on our health or the environment. They employ simple language as they deconstruct these items. The chronological manner in which they convey their content leaves one in suspense, creating the urge to continue reading.

Language is a very important communication tool. Of interest in this case is the written form, where an audience has to take their time to go through the written content in order to decipher the intended message. Most people find reading to be boring and laborious. The authors of the two books know this fact and overcome it by manipulating language to their advantage. They employ various techniques, such as sarcasm and suspense, to grab the attention of the reader and keep them glued to the book.

Cockcroft and Cockcroft insist on the power of persuasion in communication. It is important for the audience to be turned in all through the engagement so as to appreciate the full flavor of the content (Cockcroft et al, 2014, pg. 29). McDonough and Braungart have a very important message to pass across to the public, environmental conservation. They begin by talking about things we see around us every day and deconstruct them systematically to the core. In this way, our subconscious is aroused and thoughts about health and environmental conservation start to race in our heads. The audience gets to appreciate the fact that environmental conservation starts at individual level and builds up gradually to collective responsibility. On the other hand, Donald Norman uses simple language to raise our curiosity about the design and functionality of things around us. He concludes that research should be carried out on functionality and end-user satisfaction before designing such items to ensure maximum output.

In both books, simple and detailed descriptive language is used to convey two important aspects in the society. In addition, the tone is mild and enticing hence increasing readers interest in the messages conveyed. As opposed to McDonough and Braungart who do not use humor in their book, Donald illustrations are hilarious.

The two books are both concerned about the items we use on a day-to-day basis. Donald talks about watches, cars, washing machines, televisions and telephones, while McDonough and Braungart talk about clothes, shoes and toys. The two readings are about how such things affect our lives. The two are different to the extent that The Design of Everyday Things is focused on functionality and output of gadgets, while Cradle to Cradle focuses on health and environmental conservation


Cockcroft, R., & Cockcroft, S. M. (2014). Persuading people: An introduction to rhetoric. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Mcdonough, W. (2010). Cradle to cradle: Remaking the way we make things. Place of publication not identified: San Val.

Norman, D. (2013). The design of everyday things. New York: Basic Books.

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