Let's talk about language - Hidden Emotions

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Following on from Ray Edwards post where there was a recommendation to read Straight and Crooked thinking by Robert Thouless I was hoping we could discuss the idea of emotions hidden behind the words we write and say.

When thinking about writing copy what words conjure up negative and positive emotions in a reader and when would you use a positive connotation versus a negative one?
#emotions #hidden #language #talk
  • I figure the negatives gotta work in a kinda pincer formation.

    Alla the past dissatisfaction with a product, or some aspect of self, gotta be loaded up so the ground is readied for eventual flight into the arms of what is bein' sold.

    Gotta take care here: you want flight, not stand an' fight.

    More negs gonna spawn jus' in time for the Here & Now.

    Oh yeah, cos right now, ain't it kinda the same downer it's always been? Some stoopid thing you ended up with or some stoopid approach you're stuck on just ain't doin' the biz? An' you feel bad or cheated or missin' out?

    *screecha tyres as the Inevitabilitymobile careers headlong into oblivion*

    Yanno, it is gonna be like this for the resta your short life unless sumthin' is done — an' this is a great time to detail the unavoidable dystopian future where a buncha so-called solutions gonna make things a whole lot worse than they already are.

    Past, present, future: all swillin' round in a swamp of pain an' sufferin'!

    That is the el negativo pincer trio of antimattter, an' it points in only one direction: The Future.

    There is only one place to go, an' by pure writerly coincidence, it sounds frickin' fantastic.

    One look, an' it's impossible not to launch into an inspired leeeeeeap.

    Hey, not only is the future gonna be rosy if you take up the super positive offer on super positive offer, but a lifetime of pain an' sufferin' gonna be wiped out in an instant also!

    Cool stuff gonna dribble all over your life like orange juice squeezed from the heavens by angels.

    (Throw in savin' the environment an' bringin' hope to baby seals, an' eternal optimism gonna reign supreme.)

    That would be my take.
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  • Profile picture of the author havplenty
    If we take the notion that people buy things based on their passions and their fears, then the answer is more like it depends. These things are never straightforward; especially when you are dealing with the unpredictable nature of the human animal.

    It's this unpredictable nature that makes marketing an art. No matter what theorists and the like would have you believe.
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    • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
      Originally Posted by havplenty View Post

      If we take the notion that people buy things based on their passions and their fears, then the answer is more like it depends. These things are never straightforward; especially when you are dealing with the unpredictable nature of the human animal.

      It's this unpredictable nature that makes marketing an art. No matter what theorists and the like would have you believe.
      I'm not an expert here but from what I've been reading the use of words that contain factual meaning but also emotional meaning need to be chosen carefully.

      For example you use the word "animal" above where you could have used "being" or "race"
      If you consider how someone might interpret "animal" with a negative bias.

      He was an animal.

      He behaved like an animal

      You also describe marketing as an "art" which conjures up a higher level of emotion which paints it as something of beauty when it is a more of a mechanical process.

      If you had chosen "craft" it could imply "skill" or "deceiving others"

      Best regards,

      Ozi
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        I see so much copy where people either have no sensitivity to word connotation or are so afraid of repeating words that they reach for any variant regardless of the emotional connotation.

        The most common example I see is "notoriety." Many people use it as a synonym for "fame," but it is not. Unless you deliberately cultivate an edgy image, you do not want to become "notorious." That means you are famous in a negative way (like a serial killer, for example).

        Marcia Yudkin
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        Check out Marcia Yudkin's No-Hype Marketing Academy for courses on copywriting, publicity, infomarketing, marketing plans, naming, and branding - not to mention the popular "Marketing for Introverts" course.
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          I have a pet peeve here: I see waaaaaay too much this expression:

          Legally steal my xyz dohickey.

          We all know stealing is bad. We also know that it gets you an advantage you did not earn. We all get that the marketer is trying to get the reader to get the same emotion he/she would get when getting an unearned something... a pleasant surprise... But, give me a break! Legally stealing ain't stealing.

          And I mind when they talk to me about my spouse. She's my wife, not my spouse... Spouse is cold, wife is cuddly.

          I like kids (because they're fun to have around) not children (because children are well-behaved but always more boring than kids).

          I hate when people use home when they mean house, or condominium or 2-unit building.

          You don't buy a home, you buy a house, condo, etc. which you turn into a home through your actions and emotions you have in that house/condo.

          Overall, marketers dilute the language when they overdo things or don't pay attention... So does everyone else...

          I was around when unique meant one of a kind, now it means different. Nobody's paid any attention to different's feelings. I'd say it is entitled to $42,000,000 for emotional damage.

          Me too, coz now I have to write more words to get that I'm talking about one of a kind... See?

          I also hate when people say someone passed. They didn't pass, they died. Of course, that's less stressful to a lot of people. I get it. But they do it even 57 years after the fact.

          Except for Christ. He didn't pass but died... For the obvious emotional reasons people wanted invoked.
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          • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
            Originally Posted by DABK View Post

            I have a pet peeve here: I see waaaaaay too much this expression:

            Legally steal my xyz dohickey.

            We all know stealing is bad. We also know that it gets you an advantage you did not earn. We all get that the marketer is trying to get the reader to get the same emotion he/she would get when getting an unearned something... a pleasant surprise... But, give me a break! Legally stealing ain't stealing.
            No, it's "legally" stealing.
            Originally Posted by DABK

            And I mind when they talk to me about my spouse. She's my wife, not my spouse... Spouse is cold, wife is cuddly.
            Unless you're a woman and then spouse (mostly) means husband.

            Originally Posted by DABK

            I like kids (because they're fun to have around) not children (because children are well-behaved but always more boring than kids).

            I hate when people use home when they mean house, or condominium or 2-unit building.

            You don't buy a home, you buy a house, condo, etc. which you turn into a home through your actions and emotions you have in that house/condo.
            So you want sales people/marketers to be informal but formal? Emotional but less emotional?

            Originally Posted by DABK

            Overall, marketers dilute the language when they overdo things or don't pay attention... So does everyone else...
            So just marketers... and everyone else. Why not just say everyone?

            Originally Posted by DABK

            I was around when unique meant one of a kind, now it means different. Nobody's paid any attention to different's feelings. I'd say it is entitled to $42,000,000 for emotional damage.
            By definition that which is "unique" must be different. Something cannot be unique unless it is compared to something else... you did say "one of a KIND". Kind of what? So why not say "this is a unique system" when it is different to the rest?

            Originally Posted by DABK

            I also hate when people say someone passed. They didn't pass, they died. Of course, that's less stressful to a lot of people. I get it. But they do it even 57 years after the fact.
            Is the pain 57 years after the fact different from yesterday? Possibly. Maybe even probably. But who's to judge?
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            Scary good...
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            • Profile picture of the author DABK
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              Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

              No, it's "legally" stealing.

              Unless you're a woman and then spouse (mostly) means husband.


              So you want sales people/marketers to be informal but formal? Emotional but less emotional?


              So just marketers... and everyone else. Why not just say everyone?


              By definition that which is "unique" must be different. Something cannot be unique unless it is compared to something else... you did say "one of a KIND". Kind of what? So why not say "this is a unique system" when it is different to the rest?


              Is the pain 57 years after the fact different from yesterday? Possibly. Maybe even probably. But who's to judge?
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  • Home is kinda cool.

    Bugs me also, but it does its job.

    It warms an' snugglecosies the brute brickwork, suggests all you gotta do is walk on in.

    Sure, we all know we are buyin' a house or rentin' an apartment — but 'home' puts us right there in front of the fireplace with our loved ones, kids, stoopid pets etc.

    There is a technical difference between 'house' and 'home' as DABK says — but 'home' fast tracks you to the end deal.

    Similar human warmth changes 'the country' or 'this country' to 'our country' when politicians make appeals.

    I guess those are both ways of harnessin' positive emotions, an' it is a kinda theater.

    Gotta be real clear about the good guys an' the bad guys so the audience knows when to clap or boo.

    As writers, we got no actual bodies to strut an' fret their way across the stage, but we can still manifest a finely honed illusion.
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    • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
      Okay. Rewind...

      The question is: What words conjure positive/negative emotions?

      For me, it's not so simple.

      It depends on your audience.

      It also depends in how you use the words. What pictures are you painting in their head? What contexts are you communicating?

      Let's take "baby". On the face of it, you think that's a positive word.

      But it will mean different things to:

      The young guy fresh out of college.
      The young woman who wants to conquer the world.
      The high-school student who wasn't careful.
      The woman about to marry her soulmate.
      The newly married couple who want to start a family.
      The newly married couple who want to establish themselves.
      The parents of a newly married couple.

      The key is knowing your audience and the words they use to describe what they want and what they don't.

      So it's not so much that words have positive or negative emotions... it's the pictures you paint, the contexts you create with them and to whom you're directing them.
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      Scary good...
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      • I figure the babies have it.

        Sweet talk a buncha oogy woogy blib blob baby talk to a baby, an' as long as you smile sweet, they gonna gurgle back atcha.

        Same nonsense, intended nasty an' accompanied by a stern look -- an' the baby is bawlin'.
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        Lightin' fuses blows stuff togethah. Stiflin' heart keeps evrywan apart.

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        • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
          Originally Posted by Princess Balestra View Post

          I figure the babies have it.

          Sweet talk a buncha oogy woogy blib blob baby talk to a baby, an' as long as you smile sweet, they gonna gurgle back atcha.

          Same nonsense, intended nasty an' accompanied by a stern look -- an' the baby is bawlin'.
          Interesting because of a language that precedes language.

          Scientists working with dementia and Parkinson patients discovered that music unlocks memories for a while immediately after listening.

          Further research revealed that before language came "Tone"

          With babies all they have to go on apart from any visual clues is the tone or musicality of your voice.

          If you had to make a playlist of your life, what would be on it? And if, toward the end of your life, your mind and memories were fading away, would this soundtrack help bring them back? Catalyst takes you inside an extraordinary new program which is revealing that personalised playlists can re-awaken the brains of people with advanced dementia ... and even allow people with severe Parkinsons to unfreeze and move. Along the way we look more deeply at the power of music in all our lives - why is it so emotional, so memorable and so powerful that even when much of the brain is gone, music can bring it alive?
          There is more about that here:
          Catalyst: Music on the Brain - ABC TV Science

          Hopefully you can play the video at that link.

          Very revealing....and perhaps one of the keys a copywriter can utilise but in words.

          Best regards,

          Ozi
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          • Originally Posted by Oziboomer View Post

            Very revealing....and perhaps one of the keys a copywriter can utilise but in words.

            Best regards,

            Ozi
            Evocative imagry that makes an appeal to the senses touches on emotion big time.

            It is the difference between the crunch of a burnt sausage an' a juicy burger gonna squish mayo all over your face.

            I love how music figures in ads an' movies, an' the potential for evokin' feelin' is image-rich.

            In this respect, words are kinda spartan, but I figure they also got a no-nonsense simplicity gonna drill down on the essence of the intended message.

            Read a good poem, an' you can move mountains with the hairs on your neck.
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            Lightin' fuses blows stuff togethah. Stiflin' heart keeps evrywan apart.

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            • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
              Originally Posted by Princess Balestra View Post

              Evocative imagry that makes an appeal to the senses touches on emotion big time.

              It is the difference between the crunch of a burnt sausage an' a juicy burger gonna squish mayo all over your face.

              I love how music figures in ads an' movies, an' the potential for evokin' feelin' is image-rich.

              In this respect, words are kinda spartan, but I figure they also got a no-nonsense simplicity gonna drill down on the essence of the intended message.

              Read a good poem, an' you can move mountains with the hairs on your neck.
              I could feel, smell and taste the crunch of the burnt sausage and my mouth watered at the thought of a juicy burger squishing mayo so you appealed to the senses in those words there.

              "Drilling down on the essence of the intended message"

              I like that because that is the challenge and work of copywriting. Simplification of a message to reach the neurones you want to fire when the reader digests the words.

              Best regards,

              Ozi
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