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Attitude: subjectivity and objectivity in written texts

In any written composition, tone may show the author's attitude toward the topic of discussion. The author’s attitude of a text is mainly expressed through the use of words and phrases. It is important to note that spoken or written texts may fall into two categories of tone:

Objective tone: Spoken or written texts in the objective tone should be unbiased and show no feelings of the author for or against the topic.

Texts possibly written with an objective tone are textbooks, articles, and scientific reports, which mainly include factual elements or practical explanations but not the feelings of the author. Objectivity is usually considered as appropriate for the basis of decision making and news reporting. Objective tone is most often used in academic publications.

Subjective tone: Spoken or written texts in the subjective tone tend to reflect the author’s perspective on a topic. A subjective tone involves the usage of words that describe the feelings, thoughts or opinions of the author.

Texts possibly written with a subjective tone include newspaper articles, personal essays, or editorials, whereby the author expresses own opinions on a topic. Subjectivity is often considered as inappropriate for decision making and news reporting.

It is important to note that some texts may include both objective and subjective tones. This is most often the case for journalistic writing. For example, in an autobiography, the writer may include factual information as well as thoughts or opinions on certain people or incidents.

Examples of objective and subjective texts
Objective texts:
- According to the recent findings by the University of Hong Kong on the Occupy Central protests, 28% of the 518 people surveyed support the Students Occupy Movement.
- Police investigated a car crash on Pitt Street that resulted in the death of two toddlers.
Subjective texts:
- The company does not care about the wellbeing of the workers.
- The people believe that the government must come up with better housing options for the poor.
Texts with both objectivity and subjectivity
- “The Hong Kong government reported that 19.6 percent of the city’s population can now be classified as poor. That is a sickening fact when you compare to Taiwan’s much lower percentage”, stated Judith Rudby.

In this quote, the first statement is objective as it is a measurable fact. However, the second statement is subjective as it is a representation of Rudby’s opinion.

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Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Task 4 Task 5 Task 6 Task 7 Rating Form
Task 1)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

By Yannie Chan | Nov 04, 2014
Regina Ip: Twitter, Firechat Proves Occupy is Organized Campaign
Regina Ip, former security head and leader of the New People’s Party, said last Thursday that the Legislative Council should launch an investigation into the organization and funding of the Occupy movement. She argued that while some people have voluntarily provided supplies, the movement is clearly planned and well organized because occupiers frequently make use of Twitter, Google and instant messaging apps to arrange protest activities. Netizens wonder if the New People’s Party still uses pigeons to carry messages.
Our take: Welcome to the 21st century, Regina!

Source: http://hk-magazine.com/city-living/news/regina-ip-twitter-firechat-proves-occupy-organized-campaign-and-exco-member-compare

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. Is the author’s opinion of Regina Ip positive or negative?
    1. positive
    2. negative
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. Which phrase in the text emphasises the author’s opinion?
    1. the movement is clearly planned and well organized…
    2. Netizens wonder if the New People’s Party still uses pigeons to carry messages.
    3. Welcome to the 21st century, Regina!
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. What is the tone of the phrase “netizens wonder if the New People’s Party still uses pigeons to carry messages”?
    1. critical
    2. mocking
    3. sarcastic
    4. disapproving
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. The phrase “Welcome to the 21st century, Regina!” is
    1. subjective
    2. objective
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 2)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

Death penalty sought for soldier for deadly shooting spree Military prosecutors on Friday demanded the death penalty for an Army deserter accused of killing and wounding about a dozen unarmed comrades in a shooting rampage at a guard post close to the North Korean border last June. The 23-year old Army sergeant named Lim, fired at his comrades at a border outpost on the east coast, killing five and wounding seven others. Bullying was found to be the motive for the rampage.

Source: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/issues/2015/01/212_171974.html

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
Task 3)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

Ageing-society problems can hurt economy Mandy Ng ka-Man, Yau Yat Chuen
The problem of an ageing population in Hong Kong is serious and affects all citizens.
It is estimated that by 2041, one in three Hong Kongers will be elderly and our labour force will keep declining in numbers.
What has happened is hardly surprising, given that we live in a highly developed city with advanced medical facilities.
With more effective treatment of many diseases, people live longer. They are also more aware of health issues and have regular check-ups. To make matters worse, the city has a low birth rate. More young people want to pursue their career objectives. They may not marry or, if they do, choose not to start a family. If manpower shortages get worse then this could undermine Hong Kong’s competitiveness and hurt economic growth. The role of the government is crucial if we are to deal effectively with the ageing population. It must find ways to encourage more young Hong Kongers to start a family. Perhaps it could offer subsidies that would be generous enough to motivate people to have children. We all need to be aware of this problem and the fact that it is going to be a real challenge for our society.

Source: Opinion, South China Morning Post, Jan 19, 2015.

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. The phrase “It is estimated that by 2041, one in three Hong Kongers will be elderly and our labour force will keep declining in numbers.” is
    1. subjective
    2. objective
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. The writer says, “What has happened is hardly surprising, given that we live in a highly developed city with advanced medical facilities.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. sympathetic
    2. sarcastic
    3. serious
    4. mocking
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. The tone of this article is
    1. plain
    2. critical
    3. objective
    4. ambivalent
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. The writer’s main purpose is to
    1. inform the reader of the ageing problem
    2. caution the reader of the ageing problem
    3. criticize the government for their inability to stem the populating problem
    4. persuade readers to start a family
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 4)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

All countries should repeal death penalty Yami Yen Tong-yan, Tseung Kwan O
Late last year, the central government decided to reduce the use of the death penalty on the mainland. I think it should be abolished.
Most countries in the world have repealed (or do not use) the death penalty.
I think it is an inhumane punishment. It we respect human rights, then a society should not have the right of life and death over any of its citizens, including convicted criminals. There is also the issue of error in a trial. If someone is wrongly convicted of a capital offence, it is too late to right this miscarriage of justice, if their innocence is proved after they have been executed.
I am also not convinced that it an effective deterrent for people who commit murder and statistics prove this to be the case. It is a brutal punishment that has no place in a civilized society. I hope that the day will eventually come when capital punishment has been abolished by all nations.

Source: Opinion, South China Morning Post, Jan 19, 2015.

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. The phrase “Late last year, the central government decided to reduce the use of the death penalty on the mainland” is
    1. subjective
    2. objective
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. The writer’s main purpose is to
    1. persuade the reader
    2. inform the reader
    3. caution the reader
    4. entertain the reader
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. The writer says, “I hope that the day will eventually come when capital punishment has been abolished by all nations.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. forthright
    2. reflective
    3. subtle
    4. sincere
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. The writer says, “I think it is an inhumane punishment. It we respect human rights, then a society should not have the right of life and death over any of its citizens, including convicted criminals.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. judgemental
    2. critical
    3. earnest
    4. pessimistic
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  5. The tone of this article is
    1. reserved
    2. critical
    3. straightforward
    4. indecisive
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 5)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

Such people often misbehave in baffling ways that defy common sense and invite trouble for themselves. They get away with so much it's hard for them to determine when their luck, fortune and privilege may run out. Unlike us, their boundaries of acceptable behaviour are highly fluid. People like you and me instinctively know all the rules apply to us, even unwritten ones. That's why we have common sense, because we know we get no special treatment.
I am sure Cho "nut rage" Hyun-ah, daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines, would have handled the matter that got her into so much trouble very differently if she had a different surname and worked her way up to take charge of in-flight service. Somehow, I doubt this was the first time she threw a temper tantrum and publicly humiliated staff.
Would you drive your top-line Ferrari at high speed with two naked women like Ling Gu, son of top party official Ling Jihua? He died from the crash, which led to his father's downfall.
Now I am no fan of Cathay Pacific but like many airlines, its website clearly spells out it bans Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the breed that comic star Seth Rogen and his wife own, from its flights. Rogen could have spent five seconds googling that information, instead of going into a tirade against the airline.
Think about our jailed ex-chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, pop stars like Ko Chen-tung, Jaycee Chan and Edison Chen Koon-hei, the former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Italy's Silvio "bunga bunga" Berlusconi...
The rules didn't apply to them - until they do.

Source: http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1673141/likes-south-koreas-cho-hyun-ah-risk-more-their-reputations

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. The writer’s main purpose is to
    1. persuade the reader
    2. inform the reader
    3. caution the reader
    4. entertain the reader
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. The writer says, “Rogen could have spent five seconds googling that information, instead of going into a tirade against the airline.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. judgemental
    2. critical
    3. ironic
    4. mocking
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. The writer says, “I am sure Cho "nut rage" Hyun-ah, daughter of the chairman of Korean Air Lines, would have handled the matter that got her into so much trouble very differently if she had a different surname and worked her way up to take charge of in-flight service.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. judgemental
    2. critical
    3. ridiculing
    4. satiric
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. The writer says, ‘He died from the crash, which led to his father's downfall.” The tone of the this sentence is
    1. critical
    2. objective
    3. tragic
    4. serious
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  5. The tone of this article is
    1. malicious
    2. absurd
    3. cynical
    4. pessimistic
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 6)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are two of the biggest names in comics these days. So any project that pairs the two together is worth keeping an eye on. Snyder is writing and Lemire illustrating this story about a world where death has been cured and the protagonist is essentially able to live multiple lives free of the fear of death. A.D. will actually be the first long-from project Lemire has illustrated without also writing. That should make for an interesting collaboration between the two.
We're also intrigued by the highly personal nature of this project. “Getting older, watching your kids grow too fast, some nights it just feels terrifying, how quickly it all goes,” said Snyder in Image's press release.

Source: http://za.ign.com/comics/87921/feature/7-most-anticipated-graphic-novels-of-2015

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. The writer’s main purpose is to
    1. persuade the reader
    2. inform the reader
    3. caution the reader
    4. entertain the reader
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. The sentence “So any project that pairs the two together is worth keeping an eye on.” is
    1. subjective
    2. objective
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. The writer says, “We're also intrigued by the highly personal nature of this project.” The tone of this sentence is
    1. straightforward
    2. critical
    3. apathetic
    4. optimistic
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. The writer’s attitude towards the upcoming release of the book is
    1. joyous
    2. enthusiastic
    3. ambivalent
    4. sincere
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
Task 7)

Identify whether the texts are subjective, objective or both, and then proceed to answer the subsequent questions.

The Imitation Game is a film about a human calculator which feels... a little too calculated. It's not that Alan Turing's life isn't teeming with interest or cinematic possibilities. And a hard-working, hard-thinking Benedict Cumberbatch does everything that this role, as scripted, could possibly demand of him. Somehow, though, this diligent mid-century biopic, with its cookie-cutter screenwriting and lacquered, nominate-me-for-everything sheen, manages to feel like a series of stories we've heard before, following the familiar contours of other films as if with tracing paper.
Some of the comparisons being courted here might have been difficult to avoid. We're served a large, reheated hunk of A Beautiful Mind, of course, in Cumberbatch's portrait of another withdrawn, irascible maths genius no one understood. Turing and that film's John Forbes Nash might feel like biopic twins, but a braver film would have sought to differentiate itself, perhaps at all costs, from Ron Howard's ersatz 2001 Oscar-winner, rather than choosing a thousand ways to emulate it.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/11077848/e-Imitation-Game-review-clever-calculated.html

Subjective Objective Both
(Correct answers are highlighted in yellow)
  1. The writer’s attitude towards the film is
    1. reserved
    2. uninterested
    3. optimistic
    4. enthusiastic
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  2. What does the writer think about the storyline of the movie?
    1. undeveloped
    2. unique
    3. unoriginal
    4. slow-moving
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  3. What does the writer think of Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance?
    1. original
    2. optimistic
    3. praiseworthy
    4. imaginative
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  4. What does the writer think about the screenwriting and directing of the movie?
    1. overbearing
    2. stunning
    3. commendable
    4. imaginative
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
  5. The writer’s main purpose is to
    1. help the film create buzz
    2. criticize the film
    3. provide an artistic and technical analysis of the film
    4. entertain the reader with criticism
    (Correct answers are bolded.)
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