S210 Second-Year Spanish Composition F. Jehle

Assignment: Persuasion

  1. Translate the accompanying letter; the parts in parentheses are optional.
  2. Compose a letter or essay of approximately 200 words, in which you try to persuade someone to do something or to adopt a point of view. Examples:
    1. A letter to a friend in which you try to convince him/her (not) to have an abortion, (not) to marry a certain individual, (not) to use drugs, (not) to take a certain course or job, etc.
    2. A letter to a government official or congressman/woman in which you try to convince him/her (not) to support a certain bill or position, e.g., (not) to wage war against Iraq or bomb a suspected terrorist facility, increase/cut taxes, reform welfare/workfare, change the IRS, etc.
    3. A letter to a public figure urging him/her (not) to seek public office, e.g., Dan Quale for president, Paul Helmke for governor, a fellow student for student body president, etc.
           [The word “letter” appears in all of the above examples, but other forms are possible, such as an “open letter”, an editorial, a conversation, a nomination speech, etc.]

    Suggestions, comments:

    1. Title (add one, even if you write a letter, remembering rules of capitalization)
    2. Introduction. Depending on the form/position you take, the introduction will vary, for example:
      1. If a letter is involved, and is in response to another letter, it is frequently advisable to acknowledge that letter.
      2. It is customary to open with a brief statement of what you are attempting to do. However, it is possible to leave this to the end (as a conclusion after giving your reasons for such a course of action).
      3. In editorial-type situations another frequent introduction is the description of a situation (a marvelous or disastrous one, depending on whether the editorial is “pro” or “con” regarding this issue) which has resulted or will result from a given course of action.
    3. Point of view, constituency. Labels are often given, and can be helpful, but are not necessary; you might indicate “where you are coming from”, or the basis for your point of view: moral/ethical, theological/philosophical, financial/political, etc. These fields are often further divided in such terms as conservative/liberal, mid-west/northeast, etc.
           It often lends strength to your arguments or position if you can claim your point of view is that of a large segment of the population, e.g., you speak for the average housewife, the majority of Indiana farmers, the members of a certain union, etc.
    4. “Reasons”. You may of course use logic —intellectual reasoning in ordered steps— to try to convince someone of your point of view.
           By now, however, you should know that many “persuasive” arguments appeal to a large extent on emotions such as fear or suspicion, or to such things as material success, social acceptance, or even greed and sex. Other possibilities include: 1) showing the (catastrophic) consequences which may result if your advice is not followed; 2) showing the absurdity of the opposing point of view, for example by carrying it to (il)logical extremes; 3) showing how higher authorities and/or statistics support your point of view.
           You may try any combination of these [but for the sake of intellectual honesty, acknowledge at least to yourself what types of arguments you are using]. In most cases, concrete examples can make your arguments more convincing.

      Come with me to Cholula!1  

Dear ———,
     A week and a half ago Mr. Ariew, my sociology professor, told us to look up some information about Cholula. I discovered that it is a town and an archeological *site in Mexico, southeast of the capital. Then someone told me that they have a study-abroad program there. I've spent a lot of time thinking it over, and I've decided to go there next summer. Now I'm asking you to join me.
     We'll leave June 1st, right after the (summer) vacation starts. As soon as we arrive we'll start exploring the ruins there, especially the pyramid. Actually, there are seven pyramids (one on top of another). When the Spaniards came in the 16th century, they didn't want the pagan religion to keep on influencing the Indians, so they covered up the pyramids and constructed a church on top.
     Have you ever seen a place that has ancient artifacts lying (scattered) on the ground? (Well, that's the case in Cholula!)
     After we study Spanish intensively for a week, the regular courses will begin. Provided you're interested, we can both enroll in Archeology (301), Spanish (305) and Indian Culture (Soc. 335). Don't worry, the courses will be e-a-s-y, as if we were back in high school.
    Don't let the money problem bother you; if you need some help, my folks will give you a thousand dollars. (My dad, who is a millionaire, thinks so much of you that) even if dad were poor, he'd find a way to get the money.
     Think about it, make up your mind, and then... let's go to Mexico!


      1 For practice with title capitalization as well as command forms, translate the title.
      2 “Site” could also be “zone”, the word used on a sign at the digs in Cholula when I visited there several years ago (but do not misspell it, as that sign did: “Sona arqueologica”).

Fred Jehle jehle@ipfw.edu
Indiana University-Purdue University Ft.Wayne
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499 USA
URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/s210/persuad3.htm
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