Aaron Lightbody – CimerMrs. WaldronAP Language and Composition15 January 2018 This is Water Rhetorical Analysis Paragraph In the commencement speech, This is Water, David Foster Wallace’s unique choice of words helps to emphasize certain points of his argument and relate to his young audience. Throughout his speech, Wallace switches from formal choice of words to informal language to appeal to his young audience who most likely use this informal language in everyday conversations. If Wallace was to use formal word choice throughout his essay, the graduates would not be interested in the argument being put forth by Wallace. However, by using colloquial language and slang in his essay, the graduates are made more receptive to his logic and are more open to his argument.
Examples of his choice of colloquial language are found throughout his essay, which includes words such as “stupid,” “of course,” “hideously,” “pissed,” “dead-eyed,” and “cow-like.” The use of informal language also gives Wallace’s argument a sense of realism. Although Wallace’s ideas are abstract and unusual, the use of informal language forced the audience to identify his ideas and examples with the real world. Profanity is also used by Wallace when he states, “What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth with a whole lot of rhetorical bull-shit pared away.” This profanity helps to establish a connection with his audience and also makes his speech sound more interesting. In addition to this language, Wallace chooses certain words throughout his essay that connote a negative emotional mood.
While describing the negative effects that could result from living by your default-setting, Wallace uses words such as “tired,” “stressed,” “it’s the end of the workday,” and “crowded” to show how horrible life could be if you do not decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. The use of these words to describe the dreadful trip to the grocery store results in a negative outlook on living life by your default- setting, thus further supporting the overall argument about being conscious and aware of your surroundings. Without his unique choice of words, Wallace’s argument would not be effective enough to connect him to his audience and would not be able to make them more open-minded to his logic about living life by the natural default-setting.