Language Analysis: Lower the voting age to 16…NOW! The website of Young People Unite had published an article by Melissa Young on the 5th of May 2010. The opinion piece by the 17-year-old addresses the issue of whether or not the legal voting age should drop to 16 years of age. Melissa Young makes a claim that with the laws already placed upon 16-year-olds (e. g. legal age to getting their learner license) they should have the same right to vote and elect a government to rule their country.
The author’s tone shifts from a dramatic one to one which is reasoned and controlled, the consequence of such a shift allows the reader to maintain a standard register with a mixture of informal and formal language. The effect of the word ‘NOW! ’ in the title acts as an ellipsis for the urgent demand that the YPU initiative is seeking. Instantly there is a sense of emergency with the use of the exclamation mark. Their main audience is to the youth who can’t vote. At the beginning of her opinion piece Melissa creates a series of similes and comparisons that are designed to make the audience link the present to the past.
She also employs the imaginative language tool in her introduction to fabricate a scenario that Australia will eventually undergo in the year 2050. Her exaggerated and fairly graphic portrayals of what the future holds swiftly grab the audience’s attention. By using sensory descriptions about the atmosphere created from the consequences of global warming on Melbourne she is able to further engage with her reader as it makes the reader visualise the picture. Examples that could be extracted were ‘a permanent haze that hangs over the city’, and exaggerations of the to-be climate as mild and pleasant ‘a balmy 48°C’.
The image built by such informal language structure manipulated the reader’s visual interpretation on the problematic issue. It crafted the critical crisis people would be in with ‘gas-guzzlers’ an alliteration used to connote petrol-hungry, monstrous and uncontrollable cars. Again the connotation of the phrase very expense ‘exorbitant’ was used to vividly exemplify its increased cost due to the scarce amount of petrol in the crusts of earth. The implied effect of this illustration was to evoke frustration in the reader for their inability to not being able to ‘help Australia shape her future’.
As a result the fast pace and the colloquial style also conjures up a remarkable image of the world coming to an end in the reader’s mind preparing them for her proposal for teen voting. The use of complex sentence structures enables the author to enhance her arguments in successive terms. Young admits her ‘doomsday scenario’ as ‘extreme’; however, goes on to ask the reader if they are fine with not being able to make a change in the way Australia is ruled. She addresses directly to her reader which gives her the opportunity to absorb her reader’s awareness of the issue.
Using a complex sentence she densely presents a packed array of what politics has played a role in our lives the ‘so far this year’. The cumulative effect of listing a barrage of information strongly depicts the role of government elections in the lives of the young generations. She continues then suddenly stops and asks ‘…Spot the pattern here? ’ once more the rhetorical question reinforces the reader’s support to accept Young’s assertion. The colloquial language choice instead of a more formal command as ‘detect the pattern here’ the writer returns to her casual tone.
It is an alarm in the reader’s mind as a wake-up call. She aims to instil feelings of frustration in the reader by inferring that teens are ‘powerless to influence how problems are handled by governments’ when they are the group that these issues will affect the most. By further implying ‘we are powerless’ she highlights to the reader that they share the same view and are in the same category. Jargons like ‘so guys’ or ‘awesome’ appeal to the young audience and their choice of language. This sways them into feeling the same about an issue concerning Melissa and themselves.
The idea of powerlessness is further developed in the opinion piece when the author mentions the ‘many’ other entitlements that this age group is authorized for example starting a family and working full-time just like ‘adults’. The effect of juxtaposing these two situations provides the reader with a purpose as to why the legal voting age should be lowered to 16. The message conveyed that if legislations are placed upon teenagers of that age group they too should have the right to vote like the ‘octogenarians’ who are eligible to vote no matter their ‘lack of interest’ or ‘experience’ in advanced technologies.
She amplifies this with the use of loaded words like ‘pedantic’ and ‘plethora’ and goes on to denote how ‘most’ of the teens of today are ‘tech-savvy and switched on’. This evokes the reader’s appeal to sense of feeling up-to-date and attracts them to the argument by positioning them in a familiar situation. Young also provides an analogy about when an ‘underperforming student’, who is usually attentive in class, receives no attention from teachers is ‘switched off’ just like young people who ‘naturally turn’ their attention away from politicians who degraded them from being able to vote.
The young spokesperson takes on the technique of appeal to tradition and customs by examining the reasons why teens of the twenty-first century are not deemed as qualified enough for the electoral voting. In the midst of the paragraph she clarifies why the Australian voting committee disapproves of those aged 16-17 to vote in something that will most ‘dramatically’ affect their lives. She makes reference to a report by the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) about why this particular age group is not appropriate to vote for such a highly influential selection for their country.
The report ‘traditionally’ undermines and makes a generalisation according to 2004 that these young people lack maturity and interest, haven’t got the required level of experience, ignorant towards the voting system and are not able to understand ‘the nature and significance of enrolment and voting’. By using a reference to higher authorities and their opinions Melissa is able to add legitimacy to her argument; this makes it more possible for her reader to accept her view that these are wrong assumptions about the new generation.
The writer uses touchy sensitive vowels like ‘Apathy transform into action’ to coerce the reader into believing that lack of interest is not a valid reason. The consequent pattern of posing a question and providing an answer lures the reader to agree with what the writer is saying. For example the writer expresses ‘Apathy? I think not. ’ The immediate response to the rhetorical question ensures the reader is directed to the writer’s own point of view. This gives the reader no chance to think of their own answer to the proposed question.
The photograph suggests that the new youth of today are responsible enough to vote in the Australian Climate Coalition (AYCC) poll on emissions reductions. The long line represents the “many” teenagers who are interested in making their vote count. The writer compares this image to the survey conducted of 11-18 year olds by the U. K. Electoral Commission in 2004 that indicated ‘that “many” of them did not “feel sufficiently informed and would rather not vote in ignorance”.
This was incorporated by Melissa to rebut that teenagers are aware of the responsibilities voting requires and this should be enough to show their maturity despite the fact that they are not ‘technically classed as ‘adults’. The amount of thoughtfulness and maturity in these young people denote to the reason that they apparently lack interest. By using supportive statistics of the number of hits the website alone gets (15,000 per week) from ‘passionate teenagers’ augments her argument that young people are ‘politically engaged’ individuals.
Additionally she substantiates her position by the use of credentials and statistics. 91. 5% of those The climax of Melissa’s argument is reached when she concludes with a ‘call to action’ by instructing her reader’s to ‘click on the link below and sign the attached petition’. Inclusive language at the very last sentence ‘if you do the same, you will be helping to make everybody’s 2050 a little brighter’ is persuasive since it builds intimacy between the reader and the author. Again the writer draws back to the future of young people and refers to the year 2050.