Glossary and References


Alliteration The repetition of the initial sounds of words.
Antithesis Rhetorical strategy that uses contrasting statements in order to make a rhetorical point.
Clichés Phrases or expressions that, because of overuse, have lost their rhetorical power.
Colloquialisms Words or phrases used in informal speech but not typically used in formal speech.
Communication Attempts to reproduce what is in our minds in the minds of our audience.
Generic “he” or “man” Language that uses words such as “he” or “mankind” to refer to the male and female population.
Hedges Powerless phrases such as “I thought we should,” “I sort of think,” or “Maybe we should” that communicate uncertainty.
Heterosexist Language Language that assumes the heterosexual orientation of a person or group of people.
Hyperbole The use of moderate exaggeration for effect.
Jargon The specialized language of a group or profession.
Language The means by which we communicate—a system of symbols we use to form messages.
Man-linked Terms Terms such as “fireman” or “policemen” that incorrectly identify a job as linked only to a male.
Metaphors Comparisons made by speaking of one thing in terms of another.
Qualifiers Powerless words such as “around” or “about” that make your sentences less definitive.
Regionalisms Customary words or phrases used in different geographic regions.
Sexist Language Language that unnecessarily identifies sex or linguistically erases females through the use of man- linked terms and/or the use of “he” or “man” as generics.
Similes Comparisons made by speaking of one thing in terms of another using the word “like” or “as” to make the comparison.
Slang Type of language that most people understand but that is not considered acceptable in formal or polite conversation.
Spotlighting Language such as “male nurse” that suggests a person is deviating from the “normal” person who would do a particular job and implies that someone’s sex is relevant to a particular job.
Tag Questions Powerless language exemplified by ending statements with questions such as “Don’t you think?” or “Don’t you agree?”

References (2011). Bushisms—U.S. President proves how difficult English really is! Retrieved from.

Gamble, T. K. & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The gender communication connection. New York: Houghton-Mifflin. (1981, February 23). “Haigledygook and secretaryspeak.” Retrieved from,9171,949069,00.html

Hamilton, G. (2008). Public speaking for college and career, 8th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jackson, J. (1984). 1984 Speech at the Democratic National Convention. San Francisco, CA: July 18. Found at

King, M. L., Jr. (1963, August 28). I Have a Dream [Speech]. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

Peccei, J. (2003). Language and age. In L. Thomas et. al.,Language, society, and power, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.

Spender, D. (1990). Man Made Language. New York: Pandora.

Thomas, L., Wareing, S. Singh, I., Pecci, J. S., Thornborrow, J. & Jones, J. (2003). Language, society, and power: An introduction, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.

photo credits

p. 1 Rail Forum by Michigan Municipal League

p. 2 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. by Dick DeMarcisco

p. 3 Secretary of State Alexander Haig by University of Texas

p. 4. LAMB Teal Wrap Sweater

p. 5 Goth people by Rama

p. 6 Audience at Next conference by NEXT Berlin

p. 7 “Feminazi” coined by Rush Limbaugh, see

p. 8 Italian Soldier by the Italian Army

p. 9 Married gay couple by John

p. 10 Malalai Joya by AfghanKabul

p. 12 Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche by Wonderlane