The contention of a piece is the central argument or point of view of the creator. This means it is the identification of the writer’s particular argument, not just the issue being discussed. Typically, the contention is identified in the introduction of a Language Analysis essay, along with the details of the publication and the tone.

Often the contention of a piece of writing can be determined by the heading or the first and last sentences. Sometimes several arguments or ideas feed into a central contention, each adding to the strength of that contention’s persuasiveness.

Identifying the contention in your writing

Strong Language Analysis writing does not just provide the correct contention, but phrases it in a way that conveys the idea as clearly and concisely as possible. Consider the contention of the following excerpt from an article on jumps racing:

Jumps racing is a cruel and dangerous “sport” in which horses are forced to jump metre-high fences at high speed. It’s 10 – 20 times more dangerous to horses than flat racing, and many of the injuries sustained during jumps races can be horrific. Jumps racing now only occurs in Victoria and South Australia where horses continue to die on the tracks every year.

It would be partially correct to identify the contention as “jumps racing is bad” but this is an incomplete assessment of what the writer is trying to say. A better way of expressing the contention could be one of the following:

  • Jumps racing is a “cruel and dangerous” activity that continues to kill horses in Victoria and Southern Australia.
  • The danger posed to horses by jumps racing is unacceptable and the “sport” should be banned as a result.
  • The “horrific” injuries of horses as a result of jumps racing indicates the urgent need to prevent the sport from continuing in Victoria and South Australia.