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Vagueness

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Vagueness, Ambiguity, and Clarity in Writing:
Casey Dougherty
CRT/205
December 13, 2012
Casey Thrift

Vagueness, Ambiguity, and Clarity in Writing:
Example 2
I was thrown from my truck as it left the road. I was later found in a ditch by a flock of wild turkeys.
Example 3
Next Sunday a collection will be taken to help with the cost of the new altar. Anyone wanting to help to do something on the new altar can step forward and let the committee know.

In the example of being thrown from a truck there is vagueness and ambiguity. Vagueness and ambiguity used in writing have an influence on the understanding of the information to the audience. "A word or phrase is vague if the group of things to which it applies has border- line cases," (Moore & Parker, 2012, p. 72). In the second example, the writer provides a vague explanation of being thrown from his truck. The person could have been thrown because of a wreck with another vehicle, or because he was avoiding something in the road, or literally thrown from the vehicle by another person. The writer then says that he found in a ditch by a flock of wild turkeys. This statement is ambiguous because he could have been found actually in a ditch next to a flock of wild turkeys, or it could have been the flock of wild turkeys that found him in the ditch. ." A word, phrase, or sentence is said to be ambiguous when it has more than one meaning," (Moore & Parker, 2012, p. 72).
In the example of needing help with the cost of the new alter, the writer does not use clear writing to convey a message to the reader. The writer uses vagueness by not specifying what is being collected. Is the committee collecting, supplies, money, or people to assist in making a new alter. Ambiguity is used in the example as well. The audience can interpret next Sunday to be the "next Sunday" coming up, or the Sunday following this Sunday. If the audience is not sure when to volunteer or donate for the new alter, this could have a negative impact on the project of getting a new alter.
Clear writing and critical thinking have a strong relationship. Thinking critically through the message that needs to be delivered to the audience will help result in clear writing. Delivering clear writing to an audience is key to ensure they understand the message the writer is trying to present. If the writer is asking the audience to complete a task but does not provide clear writing, the task will be much more difficult to complete due to a lack of understanding from the audience.

References
Moore, B. N., & Parker, R. (2012). Critical thinking (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

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