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“The Seven Deadly Sins Are “In” and Proud of It” Review


The essay under consideration is “The Seven Deadly Sins Are “In” and Proud of It” by Howard Richler, a language journalist. This work can be referred to an academic analysis, though it does not belong to a pure formal style. The purpose of the author is not to simply inform the readers about different meanings of the English words, but to persuade them that language and society develop simultaneously and that words acquire new meanings in the course of the society’s development. The author’s controlling idea is that certain historic events, for instance, the emerging of capitalism and feudalism, favored penetration of some words into the economic sphere. Richler achieves his purpose of displaying connection between language and society development through logically supporting his arguments, giving rich emotional coloring to his essay, and proving his credibility to the audience.


To begin with, Richler provides logical support for all of his arguments. He starts his essay with exploring how the language has developed together with the society and how many “moneyed words” have appeared with the emerging of market relations. As a proof, he discusses such words as “obtain,” “earn,” and “procure”; all these words carry the same connotation and mean the process of acquisition. Richler expresses an idea that such a connotation was not prevalent in the English language earlier, but “with the demise of feudalism and the ability of the common man to sell his labor freely, the need for new terms to reflect the new economic realities arose.” (483) Further, he supports his arguments with corresponding examples which seem to answer possible questions of the readers. For instance, he states that the economic vocabulary has borrowed certain words from other domains.

This argument is followed by a vivid example: “Words like account, budget, business, company, consumption, demand, duty, income, interest, market, pay, and purchase, all existed previously and were adapted to describe the new economic system.” (483) The author also affirms that the ability of people to sell their labor changed the connotation of some of the words. Again, to prove this, he explains the original and the modern meaning of the word “fortune” : “Originally, fortune referred only to chance; it didn’t develop its sense of “great wealth” until the end of the sixteenth century … fortune was no longer seen as being controlled by others but now could be controlled by an individual.” (483) This all testifies to the fact that Richler’s essay is logical and coherent, which makes it easy to read and comprehend.

What’s more, Richler gives his piece of writing proper emotional coloring, which helps him to evoke emotions in his audience. He uses a number of metaphors and other stylistic devices to make the readers interested in the presented information and to turn his essay into an entertaining story, rather than a boring report. Such metaphors as “to sell his labor,” “the vocabulary is laced with words,” words came to possess a higher moral value,” “words began to take on new connotations,” “the growing tide of capitalism,” and “one was not bound to a master” help the writer to express his ideas and reveal his emotional state. It is a common fact that metaphors attribute other meanings to the words which are already familiar to the reader; Richler’s using metaphors in his essay creates a certain irony, because his work is aimed to show how the society changes the meaning of the words in the course of its development. In addition, the use of exclamatory sentences, such as “For goodness’ sake, let’s put the sin back in the Seven Deadlies!” (484) and rhetoric questions, such as “But who knows?” (484) lets the writer establish emotional contact with the audience. These stylistic devices are quite expressive and show that the author is indeed concerned with the issue he analyzes. Exclamatory sentences denote how emotional the author is and how much he wants to convince the audience in his ideas. Rhetoric questions, in their turn, leave the reader in thoughts and make him/her search for the solutions to the problem or issue in question. Therefore, different stylistic devices make Richler’s essay more expressive and help it evoke emotions in readers.

Finally, Richler’s being a language journalist and his referring to the works of other writers makes him credible and his essay persuasive. It is always easy for the readers to believe somebody who is wiser and who spent some time researching a definite issue. The fact that Richler is a language journalist and that he wrote several books on language means that the essay in question is not his first work. At the beginning of the essay he displays his knowledge of different meanings of the words: “We profited from their misfortune – no, let me rephrase that, it sound mercantile. We benefited – no, that’s not right – we have gained an advantage…” (482) In this way he shows the reader how numerous the meanings of words are and how much he knows about most of them. This helps to evoke trust in readers and adds the writer credibility. Moreover, Richler cites other researchers throughout his essay, which means that he had studied their works. For instance, he states: “M.M. Poston, in The Medieval Economy and Society, points out that profit and economic expansion in feudal days [were] inhibited by the concept of a “just price.” (484) He discusses this information supporting his ideas with the quotes from Poston’s work. The same is true about Raymond Williams and Geoffrey Hughes. This allows the reader to define whether the writer agrees or disagrees with the findings of other scholars, which once again proves his analytical thinking, erudition, and credibility. Thus, Richler’s profession and his conducting a research before writing an essay under consideration makes him a credible writer and adds persuasiveness to his work.


In sum, “The Seven Deadly Sins Are “In” and Proud of It” can be characterized by logic flow of arguments, bright emotional coloring, and persuasiveness. Through these characteristics Howard Richler was able to make his controlling idea clear for the audience and persuade them in his beliefs and convictions. His logical appeal to the audience was achieved through providing logical support and explanations to the arguments he used in his essay. His using of metaphors, exclamatory sentences, and rhetoric questions added the essay emotional coloring and made the readers involved in the discussion. Lastly, his researching the topic before writing the essay and mentioning the findings of other scholars makes him a credible writer and increases persuasiveness of his arguments. Richler’s using all of these methods helped him to create a great piece of writing and facilitated its understanding for the audience.


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