FIRST PARAGRAPH: EXIGENCE (or WARRANT)
• Using Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, identify statements, observations, or
theories using the term “medium” (or the plural “media”) that merit serious attention or
• A confusing or misused word is not exigent. In fact, the warrant for definitions defaults to
denotation, which leads to the next paragraph.
SECOND PARAGRAPH: EVIDENCE
• DENOTATION is the primary source for questions of definition. The unequivocal and
authoritarian dictionary for English is the full Oxford English Dictionary. However,
consultation of the Oxford English Dictionary for the term “medium” will prove very
problematic. “Media,” however, is clearly the plural form of “medium.”
• CONNOTATION is the secondary source for questions of definition because English has
an open and dynamic lexicon. A simple survey of a variety of English speakers will yield
“connotations,” associated or affiliated meanings of a word, which could become
denotations over time. Ask “What does ‘medium’ mean?” and “What does ‘media’ mean?”
Respondents will offer a wide variety of connotations for “medium,” but most will state that
“media” means something similar to “the mass media”; in this case, the connotations are
more problematic for media than medium.
• Faulty SYNONYMS should be dismissed as potential evidence. The most common false
synonym for “medium” and “media” is “technology.”
• THEREFORE, the absence of functional denotations and connotations grants warrant or
license to assert a functional and holistic denotation.
THIRD PARAGRAPH: ARGUMENT (AND PROOF)
• All that precedes gives due license to argue a functional and holistic definition of the word
“medium” in order to pursue the warrant in the first paragraph.
• “Media” is simply misused, and does not require definition. It is the Latin plural form of
“medium.” We now use “mediums” to avoid this confusion with “the mass media.”
• Proof in context should be the last sentence of the argument, e.g., Therefore: “The radio is
a medium of communication” may be stated “The radio is a [insert your definition] of
communication.” (Allow for media of production, transportation, and others.)
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