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Comment (with detail) on the importance of language to satire.

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amar22 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 7, 2011 at 11:07 PM via web

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Comment (with detail) on the importance of language to satire.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 8, 2011 at 1:11 AM (Answer #1)

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Word choice is absolutely critical when writing satire, because the language being used is what expresses the message. To start with, a definition. "A ‘satire’ is a poem, or in modern use sometimes a prose composition, in which prevailing vices or follies are held up to ridicule." So, when writing satire, the author is making fun of something - the actions, attitudes or opinions of another person or group of people.

There are numerous authors who have used satire with great effect. Many are named in the linked article. I happen to enjoy James Thurber. In giving "advice" to a young lady who asks him for guidelines to writing humor, he responds with a series of rules he follows, each one phrased in humorously satiric terms. He advises against standardized formulas to start stories, exemplified with the comment, "For Heaven's sake, Patience, will you please give me a chance to explain?" (Obviously, the person named Patience is not being patient.) He counsels against pen names for authors such as "Ann S. Thetic" (anesthetic), "Maud Lynn" (maudlin), or "Bertha Twins" (birth of twins).

The choice of words used sets the stage for the satire contained in the writing.

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