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An analysis on a letter-to-the editor in US News Magazine (Discourse Analysis)

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                                                                                                                           Nama Dirahasiakan..??
F21105040
November 19, 2008

An analysis on a letter-to-the editor in US News Magazine

In his first sentence – John Power – directly opposes the editor to his ranking (U.S. News’s ranking). Still in the sentence, he phrases what he holds as truth that the ranking is inane. The editor may think that his ranking is a truly ranking; however, John also harbors his own truth (maxim of quality: John expresses what he deems a piece of truth). John also tries to be brief here: he makes a sentence which clearly states his position (maxim of quantity). We also notice here that he does not rely on maxim of politeness. He directly lays down his truth, which may not be taken as serious if he politely delivers it. Indeed the maxim of truth and that of politeness often conflict each other.
Seeing that John is a person who voices out his ideas through letter, we can assume that he is concerned about education. His ideas also hint that the Americans do not share the same criteria by which to determine the best college/ university. That possibly because they view something from many perspectives; they do not have a single standard. When putting forward our opposition, it is definitely true that something not in line with our way of thinking has taken place. We will not be able to eat if the food is not cooked first. What happened was there was a ranking released that John opposes. So first comes the ranking and next comes John’s opposition. The publication of the ranking brings us to know that it is very important for the people of America. At least there are two reasons behind this publication. First, the editors as well as all the staffs in the magazine are really concerned about education; they do not want students to take wrong place to pursue their higher education. Second, there might have been a request from its readers to provide them a detailed list of the best university down to the worst one. How possibly is there such a request? It probably because those readers count a lot on the magazine ranking. Furthermore, due to different perception of people (particularly the readers), we may come to conclude that the colleges/ universities are highly, extremely, and supremely competitive. Lastly, the fact may not only that he is concerned with education, he might be an insistent reader of the magazine, otherwise he wouldn’t. Last but not least, he might be simply triggered to oppose it because his favorite one is not in the right position he wants in the ranking or another possibility, he wants to imply a certain college/ university which has all the criteria he mentions.
John also bases his order of information on his hypothesis about what is known publicly – by the editor or the other readers – concerning the (method) ranking. He puts the given information first and followed by the new information (inane). He can just reverse the order but it will leave us assuming that something is knowingly inane (given) and the next information following it is new (ranking method). Simply put people will think that something is inane but they do not have any idea of what it is. In fact, what people know is that there is a ranking on best colleges/ universities but they do not know what John thinks about it.
Let us move on to talk about the referring expressions. “I” in the very beginning refers to the writer, John. Next comes “your method”, this one refers to the method the magazine uses to asses all the colleges/ universities in its list. All students entering and pursuing education are what “he” in line 10 refers to. “You” in line 18 refers to the people of the magazine represented by the editor. Peer assessment is what “it” in line 19 refers to. The conjunction “therefore” in line 6 functions to relate the previous information: the quality of education is very important to the subsequent one: it is the greatest factor. “After that” in line 7 is used to add more information concerning factors. It adds the quality of the student entering the institution (student selectivity). In line 14, “yet” is used to contradict retention rates to its percentage; retention rates have nothing to do with education quality but it is given high percentage. “Furthermore” in line 16 functions as more exemplification of aspects that do not need taking as factors. The word while in the same line is used to contrast the importance of peer assessment and its possible bad impact. “And” in the next line is merely used as a tool to add information within sentence. The last conjunction “lastly” is used to end the letter. It means that there would no more other factors come afterwards.
As usual, John’s first sentence serves as a starting point of what he is going to explain more. He mentions that the (method) ranking is inane, meaning that his next coming sentences will elucidate his choice of saying it inane. His second sentence is his first supporting sentence. The third sentence is his supporting detail for his supporting sentence. What comes in the fourth sentence is his second supporting sentence which definitely endorses his thesis statement. Before he comes to his last (third) supporting sentence, he mentions another two sentences which do not add to his two previously-mentioned supporting sentences. Even so, he makes those two sentences as opposing statements pertaining to the editor’s using them as factors for listing down colleges and universities. The last sentence of the letter reveals his third factor worth paying attention. The letter ends there. There should be a concluding sentence before he ends it, but it not a necessity. The best concluding sentence for him would be a message to the editor to be much more attentive and meticulous in giving assessment.  

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