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11.6: Conclusion, Glossary, References

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    This chapter has discussed a number of important aspects of language that good speakers should always consider. It is important for speakers to remember the power of language and to harness that power effectively, yet ethically. We’ve discussed the relationship between the language we use and the way we see the world, the importance of using language that is clear, vivid, stylized, ethical and that reflects well on you as the speaker.

    The difference between choosing one word over another can be as significant as an audience member remembering your presentation or forgetting it and/or an audience turning against you and your ideas. Taking a few extra moments to add some alliteration or to check for language that might offend others is time very well spent. The next time you have to write or speak about an issue, remember the importance of language and its impact on our lives— carefully consider what language will you use and how will those language choices make a difference in how your audiences defines and understands your topic.

    Review Questions and Activities

    Review Questions

    1. Explain the difference between communication and language.
    2. Explain the relationship between language and the way that humans perceive their worlds.
    3. Why should you use simple language in your speech?
    4. The use of concrete and precise language in your speeches helps prevent what sorts of problems?
    5. Give an example of a metaphor and explain how that metaphor functions to communicate a specific idea more clearly.
    6. What is alliteration?
    7. Why is personalized language important?
    8. What are some examples of types of sexist language and what is the impact of those examples?
    9. What are two problems associated with using exaggerated language in your speeches?
    10. Explain the types of powerless language most commonly used.
    11. Why shouldn’t you use clichés in your speech?
    12. Why is correct grammar important to good speech making?


    1. Speakers should avoid the use of sexist language. Consider the sexist words and phrases listed below and think of as many replacement words as you can.
      1. Bachelor’s Degree
      2. Bogeyman
      3. Brotherhood
      4. Businessman
      5. Chairman
      6. Forefather
      7. Layman
      8. Mailman
      9. Manmade
      10. Repairman
      11. Salesman
      12. Female Doctor
    2. Using speeches from or, choose any speech from the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, or Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and isolate one paragraph that you believe exemplifies a careful and effective use of language. Rewrite that paragraph as I did for my classes, using more common and less careful word choices. Compare the paragraphs to each other once you’re done, noticing the difference your changes in language make.
    3. Speakers should always remember that it’s rarely helpful to use a long word when a short word will do and that clichés should be avoided in speeches. Look at these common clichés, reworded using language that obstructs rather than clarifies, and see if you can figure out which clichés have been rewritten.
      1. A piece of pre-decimal currency conserved is coinage grossed.
      2. The timely avian often acquires the extended soft-bodied invertebrate.
      3. A utensil often used for writing is more prodigious than a certain long-edged weapon.
      4. Let slumbering members of the canine variety remain in slumber
      5. An animal of the avian variety resting on one’s palm is more valuable than double that amount in one’s appendage most often used for tactile feedback.


    The repetition of the initial sounds of words.
    Rhetorical strategy that uses contrasting statements in order to make a rhetorical point.
    Phrases or expressions that, because of overuse, have lost their rhetorical power.
    Words or phrases used in informal speech but not typically used in formal speech.
    Attempts to reproduce what is in our minds in the minds of our audience.
    Generic “he” or “man”
    Language that uses words such as “he” or “mankind” to refer to the male and female population.
    Powerless phrases such as “I thought we should,” “I sort of think,” or “Maybe we should” that communicate uncertainty.
    Heterosexist Language
    Language that assumes the heterosexual orientation of a person or group of people.
    The use of moderate exaggeration for effect.
    The specialized language of a group or profession.
    The means by which we communicate—a system of symbols we use to form messages.
    Man-linked Terms
    Terms such as “fireman” or “policemen” that incorrectly identify a job as linked only to a male.
    Comparisons made by speaking of one thing in terms of another.
    Powerless words such as “around” or “about” that make your sentences less definitive.
    Customary words or phrases used in different geographic regions.
    Sexist Language
    Language that unnecessarily identifies sex or linguistically erases females through the use of man- linked terms and/or the use of “he” or “man” as generics.
    Comparisons made by speaking of one thing in terms of another using the word “like” or “as” to make the comparison.
    Type of language that most people understand but that is not considered acceptable in formal or polite conversation.
    Language such as “male nurse” that suggests a person is deviating from the “normal” person who would do a particular job and implies that someone’s sex is relevant to a particular job.
    Tag Questions
    Powerless language exemplified by ending statements with questions such as “Don’t you think?” or “Don’t you agree?”


    • (2011). Bushisms—U.S. President proves how difficult English really is!
    • Retrieved from.
    • Gamble, T. K. & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The gender communication connection. New York: Houghton-Mifflin.
    • (1981, February 23). “Haigledygook and secretaryspeak.” Retrieved from,00.html
    • Hamilton, G. (2008). Public speaking for college and career, 8th Ed. New York: McGraw- Hill.
    • Jackson, J. (1984). 1984 Speech at the Democratic National Convention. San Francisco, CA: July 18. Found at
    • King, M. L., Jr. (1963, August 28). I Have a Dream [Speech]. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from
    • Peccei, J. (2003). Language and age. In L. Thomas et. al.,Language, society, and power, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.
    • Spender, D. (1990). Man Made Language. New York: Pandora.
    • Thomas, L., Wareing, S. Singh, I., Pecci, J. S., Thornborrow, J. & Jones, J. (2003). Language, society, and power: An introduction, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge.

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    11.6: Conclusion, Glossary, References is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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