After reading this chapter, the student will be able to:
- Explain how language is used for power;
- Explain how languages choices affect the effectiveness of public speaking;
- Explain the standard of clarity;
- Choose clear language;
- Choose language appropriate for audiences;
- Begin to develop her/his own language ability in speaking.
- 10.1: What Language Is and Does
- Language is any formal system of gestures, signs, sounds, and symbols used or conceived as a means of communicating thought, either through written, enacted, or spoken means. Linguists believe there are far more than 6,900 languages and distinct dialects spoken in the world today (Anderson, 2012). The language spoken by the greatest number of people on the planet is Mandarin (a dialect of Chinese). Other widely spoken languages are English, Spanish, and Arabic.
- 10.2: Standards for Language in Public Speaking
- Clear language is powerful language. Clarity is the first concern of a public speaker when it comes to choosing how to phrase the ideas of his or her speech. If you are not clear, specific, precise, detailed, and sensory with your language, you won’t have to worry about being emotional or persuasive, because you won’t be understood. There are many aspects of clarity in language discussed in this section.
- 10.3: Developing Your Ability to Use Effective Language in Public Speaking
- Although the placement of this chapter may seem to indicate that language choices, or what the ancient rhetoricians called “style,” are not as important as other parts of speaking, language choices are important from the very beginning of your speech preparation, even to your research and choice of search terms. Audience analysis will help you to develop language that is clear, vivid, appropriate, credible, and persuasive.