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Object Focus

 

Techniques > Use of language > Persuasive language > Object Focus

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Make the object of the sentence the focus of attention, letting the subject slip by unnoticed.

The subject may be named, or may be omitted altogether.

Example

Tell me about book that is being written. (omitted subject - who is writing the book)

Look at this awful mess that has been made by your friends. (focus on mess, friends not the focus)

Discussion

In English grammar, subjects act on objects. Thus in 'The cat sat on the mat', the cat is the subject and the mat is the object.

When you make the object the focus of the sentence, then less attention is paid to the subject.

Here is a classic example:

How many of each kind of animal did Moses take onto the ark?

The answer is none, because it was Noah who took animals onto the ark. Erikson and Mattson called this the 'Moses Illusion'.

See also

Erikson, T. and Mattson, M. (1981). From words to meaning: a semantic illusion, Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 20, 540-51

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