Colbert 1Gabrielle ColbertProf. Emily MichaelENC 11438 April 2019Annotations: Pennebaker’s “Lying Words”Rhetorical Situation1. Author & Ethos: The author of “Lying Words” is James W. Pennebaker, an American social psychologist and Liberal Arts Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is also a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.2. Context (When, Where, and What Format):“Lying Words” is chapter six of his linguistic book The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us, originally published in 2011 by Bloomsbury.3. Ongoing Conversation:Deception is in and all around the communities of the world, affecting every single person. Trusting someone who chooses to take advantage of that trust and deceive their peers is a nightmare to experience, whether is betrayal from a loved one, friend, or elected official.
Colbert 24. Audience:Pennebaker’s (Bloomsbury’s) audience is (majorly) scholarly folk interested in an academic study of language, such as professors, students, and linguists, who find pleasure in reading about linguistics and the how words can communicate more about than what is said. 5. Thesis (Main Claim):Pennebaker asserts that deception can be found in specific language patterns as much as observed bodily responses.Quotes & Observations1.Pennebaker begins, “Early in my expressive writing career, volunteers came to the lab and were asked to describe a powerful emotional event while they were hooked up to sensors that measured their blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, muscle tension, and skin conductance (sometimes called galvanic skin response, or GSR). They were then left alone during the time they talked about a traumatic experience into a tape recorder” (131). He mentions this test to inform readers of how lies are usually detected, so that he may introduce a different form of deception that does not require any sensors. His choice of the word “powerful” clues the audience in on the magnitude of the volunteer’s chosen event.2.Pannebaker continues, “The student’s voice on the
Colbert 3recording was matter-of-fact and eerily distant, much like his language. Biologically, however, he evidenced signs of tremendous conflict and stress...On a questionnaire he completed after the study, he reported that talking about thetraumatic event was not at all upsetting or stressful” (131-132). This student is mentioned because he is a prime example of someone who says one thing but literally feels another. Pennebaker refers to this student as he talks about self-deception, specifically how it creeps up and can turn perceived truths into subtle lies. His use of the word “eerily” has a skeptical tone the audience cannot miss.
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