What Is an Example of Semantic Slanting?

A euphemism is a good example of semantic slanting. Semantic slanting refers to intentionally using language in certain ways so as to influence the reader’s or listener’s opinion on a certain topic.

Since a euphemism is by definition a word or phrase that offers a positive description of an act or a thing that would otherwise be neutral or negative, euphemisms provide illustrative examples of biased, or “slanted,” language use. For example, calling an unwelcome tax increase a “temporary refund adjustment” turns something that people are likely to perceive as negative into something that they may be inclined to view as positive.

Because semantics refers to the meaning of language, semantic slanting refers specifically to language crafted to produce, often subconsciously, a particular mood or feeling based on word choice. The meaning of “refund,” for example, suggests a positive gain, even if it is couched in a phrase that actually substitutes for “tax increase.”

Semantic slanting is the stock-in-trade of advertising, public relations and politics. Other examples of semantic slanting include such techniques as innuendo, dysphemism, loaded questions, rhetorical definitions and ambiguity. Some rhetoricians and language arts specialists would point out that semantic slanting is not necessarily a negative behavior and is responsible for the art and skill of the persuasive speaker and the accomplished writer.