In August of 2015, a migration debate exploded in the news media. Catalyzed by the shocking photo of a drowned boy washed ashore in Turkey, the migration ‘crisis’, was at the forefront of the news for a month, and is still simmering away in the background. Every now and again a populist leader will invoke the ‘migrant crisis’ and the issue will return to the forefront of the news cycle. The language of migration, immigration, and refuge is jam packed with opportunities to discuss Global Issues in relation to how language is being used.
One of the most terrible things about a national security crisis, real or imagined, is that xenophobic leaders instil fear and terror about people who are different from the majority. It is shockingly easy to do, and is part and parcel of human linguistic cultures. In this section you’ll see how language has been used to wound, hurt, divide, oppress and dehumanize groups of people, with a particular focus on the way migrant peoples are described by people in power (be it journalists, radio hosts or politicians). This kind of language enables people – often even good people – to view others as less than human.
Find out about language which dehumanises and divides people in this section by reading a few of the following articles; while they focus on the language used to discuss migrants – people who move from one country to another – one or two pieces here widen the scope of the debate to include other groups of people as well:
- Hate Speak (Figures of Speech article by Caitlin Moran)
- The Dehumanizing History of Immigration Words (thinkprogress article by Esther Yu-Hsi Lee)
- We Deride Them as ‘Migrants’ (Guardian article)
- Swarm or Plague? (article by Frankie Boyle)
- The Ugly History of the Word ‘Infest’ (article at Forward by Aviya Kushner)
- The Toxic Metaphors of the Migration Debate (Guardian article)
- Hard Questions: Hate Speech (a Meta article)
This is a longer and more challenging piece of reading, but spending time on this piece, and discussing it with your teacher, will help you master this topic:
Class Activity: Rescue Boats
Caution is recommended when reading this particularly distasteful article. Written by controversial right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins, the article achieved a certain notoriety when it was first published. Amongst all the vitriol, can you identify the ways in which Hopkins constructs her argument against migrants? Look out for the following techniques:
- Particular noun phrases
- Use of institutional voices
After you’ve got your head around the material in this section, pair up, pick a question, spend five minutes thinking and noting down your thoughts – then discuss your ideas with a friend and report back to the class:
- Combatting hate speech is a laudable aim; however, in order to stop someone spreading hate speech that person might have to be censored or silenced. How can hate speech be countered while upholding the freedom of speech that is a central tenet of many democratic societies?
- What is the definition of hate speech? Who decides what is hate speech and what is not?
Read this insightful article by Chris Macdonagh who founded Travellers Against Racism; here he dismantles the way a television documentary presents the traveller community. Then, write a letter of complaint to the editor of The Sun, the newspaper who published Katie Hopkins’ article. Lay out your reasons for disagreeing with her point of view and explain how she is trying to paint a particular picture of a marginalised group of people in the minds of others. Try to mimic Chris Macdonagh’s style in your own writing.
Paper 1 Text Type Focus: speeches
At the end of your course you will be asked to analyze unseen texts (1 at Standard Level and 2 at Higher Level) in an examination. You will be given a guiding question that will focus your attention on formal or stylistic elements of the text(s), and help you decode the text(s)’ purpose(s). Below are several examples of speeches: use these practice texts to familiarise yourself with the different features of this text type, including identifying ethos, logos and pathos. Add the texts to your Learner Portfolio; you will want to revise text types thoroughly before your Paper 1 exam. You can find more information – including text type features and sample Paper 1 analysis – by visiting 20/20. Read through one or two of the exemplars, then choose a new paper and have a go at writing your own Paper 1 analysis response:
key features of speeches
- Ethos: the speaker establishes his or her credibility and may allude to a moral, social or spiritual leader with whom the audience cannot disagree.
- Logos: clear, reasonable arguments, facts and statistics and quoting experts in the field are all ways of establishing a logical appeal.
- Pathos: emotive language and imagery are ways of helping the audience empathise with the feelings of other – often vulnerable – people.
- Persuasive: the speaker attempts to make his or her listener think in a certain way, believe something or take action.
- Direct address: the speaker tries to draw closer to the listeners by addressing them as ‘you’ – look out for the use of ‘we’ or‘us’ to include the speaker and listener on the same side – and be wary of attempts to compliment the listener.
- Modality: modal verbs are small but important words (such as ‘must’, ‘need’, ‘should’, ‘might,’ and so on) that reveal the speaker’s degree of certainty and strength of feeling. You can study modality here.
- Rhetorical devices: all kinds of rhythmical, structural, auditory and linguistic tricks can be employed by a skilled speaker. They are too many to list here, but rhetorical strategies can be studied and learned.
- Logical Fallacies: also called ‘argumentation fallacies.’ Common fallacies in speeches are glittering generalisations, simplification and slippery slope. Learn more about logical fallacies here.
Body of Work: Drop the I-Word Campaign
Colorlines is a daily news site where race matters, featuring award-winning in-depth reporting, news analysis, opinion and curation. It is published by Race Forward, a national American organization that advances racial justice through research, media and practice.
In 2010, Colorlines launched a Drop the I-Word campaign to help eliminate the use of the word “illegal” when referring to undocumented immigrants. The efforts of the 2010 campaign focused on specifically targeting news outlets & journalist associations, putting pressure on them to ‘Drop the I-Word.’ As a result, major news outlets like Associated Press, USAToday, and the Los Angeles Times pledged to drop the word from their reporting.
Here you can find a small collection of stories from the Colourlines blog ‘I am…’ which was a part of the Drop the I – Word campaign in 2011. Throughout the year, the words and stories of undocumented migrants were published on the site as part of the campaign to eradicate the dehumanising use of the word ‘illegal’ in the debate around immigration in the US. You can find more stories like this by visiting the I Am… blog. The I am… stories, promotional videos, website and other materials from this campaign can be considered a Body of Work.
Associated materials can be found here:
- Colorlines Website (Immigration News)
- Why Drop Now? (campaign mission statement)
- Journalist style guide
- Campaign Update (released in 2017)
Towards Assessment: Individual Oral
Supported by an extract from one non-literary text and one from a literary work, students will offer a prepared response of 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of questions by the teacher, to the following prompt: Examine the ways in which the global issue of your choice is presented through the content and form of two of the texts that you have studied. (40 marks)
Details from this campaign would be a good choice to bring to your assessed oral activity. Here are suggestions as to how you might use this Body of Work to create a Global Issue. You can use one of these ideas, or develop your own. You should always be mindful of your own ideas and class discussions and follow the direction of your own thoughts, discussions and programme of study when devising your assessment tasks:
- Field of Inquiry: Power, Politics and Justice
- Global Issue: Migration
The Drop the I-Word campaign centers around dehumanisation, a central issue in the way migrants are represented in the media, and also opens up the debate in order to discuss other issues concerning immigration and the impact of ‘outsiders’ on a community. Many literary works also explore this theme.
- Field of Inquiry: Culture, Community and Identity
- Global Issue: Fear and Suspicion of Outsiders
One of the sad things about an ‘in-group’ is that it tends to naturally exclude outsiders. And when they feel threatened, leaders are able to instil fear and terror about people who are different from the majority. It is shockingly easy to do, and is part and parcel of human linguistic cultures.
possible literary pairings
- Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – think Act 1 Scene 3 in which Shylock describes his treatment at the hands of Antonio and the Christian gang; or Act 4 Scene 1, the courtroom scene, in which Shylock is subject to a torrent of abuse from the gallery – and is even subject to prejudice from the Duke himself.
- Ismail Kadare’s Broken April – a more tricky pairing might be with Kadare’s work, but you could certainly delve into the unpleasant thoughts of Mark Ukacierra and his prejudices against women and intellectuals (Diana and Bessian are visitors to the High Plateau, therefore ‘outsiders’) in chapter 4.
- J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting for the Barbarians – this novel reveals how the consolidation of power in an empire relies upon fear of invasion by outsiders and how, fueled by rumour, paranoia and suspicion grow until they are too powerful to contain.
- Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie – when the narrator and his friend Luo arrive at the remote village of Phoenix of the Sky, they are treated with suspicion and hostility. Although they soon learn how to charm their hosts, choosing a passage from the first chapter of this novel would make a perfect pairing with this Body of Work.
- Charlotte Mew’s Selected Poetry – many of Mew’s speakers exist on the periphery of society, such as in Saturday Market and Ken. They witness acts of hostility and degradation, but find themselves unable to interfere, for fear of exposing their own insecure lives.
Wider Reading and Research
Categories:Time and Space