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Emotive Language

Writers use emotive language in order to have a greater emotional impact on their audience. Words can evoke positive emotions, as in: 'Brave gran risks life to save emaciated orphan'. Or the goal can be more negative: 'Abandoned children found in filthy, flea-infested flat'. It's important both to be aware of the effect this language can have on you as a reader, and to be able to achieve the same effect in your own writing.

See how well you can spot emotive language by trying this quiz.

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  1. 'Devious employee fleeces nursing home owner' - Which are the emotive words in this headline?
  2. 'Thugs taunt victim after brutal mugging' - Which are the emotive words in this headline?
    This is an extremely emotive headline - each of the words could be replaced with a neutral term
  3. 'If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood / Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs / Bitter as the cud / Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues' - Which are the emotive words used by Wilfred Owen in these lines from 'Dulce et Decorum Est'?
  4. 'How else dispose of an immortal force / No longer needed? / Staunch it at its source / With cinder loads dumped down? / The brook was thrown / Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone / In fetid darkness still to live and run' - Which are the emotive words used by Robert Frost in these lines from his poem, 'A Brook in the City'?
  5. 'Make your wardrobe sparkle with our desirable new winter collection!' - Which are the emotive words in this advert?
    The implication is that your clothing is dull and out-of-date. This is one of the key purposes of advertisements and is more subtle than the purely emotive words
  6. 'Doctor escapes jail for botched surgery' - Which are the emotive words in this headline?
    Using the word 'escapes' implies that the judgement is faulty and that the doctor should be in jail
  7. 'Can you really abandon these puppies to life in such filthy kennels?' - Which are the emotive words in this appeal?
    Further emotive elements include the use of the rhetorical question and intensifiers such as 'really' and 'such'. 'Puppies' is emotive here, because the word has a stronger emotional pull than 'dog'
  8. 'Gorgeous-looking model in immaculate condition - test drive today!' - Which are the emotive words in this car advert?
  9. 'Weasels will live anywhere smelly / Inside a maggoty sheep carcase / Or a rotted tree-stump, / A crumbled wall crevice or a fish hole / In the riverbank. Their innocent babies / Nest tight at the back of the holes.' - Which are the emotive words used by John Tripp in these lines from his poem, 'Weasels'?
    This poem presents a beautiful contrast between our unpleasant emotions associated with weasels and with the reality of weasels as animals which nurture their young
  10. 'Our obesity-conquering cookbook is bursting with easy, fun recipes to try!' - Which are the emotive words in this blurb?

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