Chapter 13: The Importance of Language

Language Matters

President Abraham Lincoln

Ask any professional speaker or speech writer, and they will tell you that language matters. In fact, some of the most important and memorable lines in American history came from speeches given by American presidents:

It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time (McClure, 1904).

Abraham Lincoln

Speak softly and carry a big stick (Roosevelt, 1901).

Theodore Roosevelt

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself (Roosevelt, 1933).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country (Kennedy, 1961).

John F. Kennedy

We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard (Obama, 2009).

Barack Obama

You don’t have to be a president or a famous speaker to use language effectively. So in this chapter, we’re going to explore the importance of language. First, we will discuss the difference between oral and written language, then we will talk about some basic guidelines for using language, and lastly, we’ll look at six key elements of language.

References

Kennedy, J. F. (1961, January 20). Inaugural address. Quoted in Bartlett, J. (1992). Bartlett’s familiar quotations (J. Kaplan, Ed.) (16th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company, p. 741.

McClure, A. K. (1904). Lincoln’s yarns and stories: A complete collection of the funny and witty anecdotes that made Abraham Lincoln famous as America’s greatest story teller. Philadelphia, PA: The J. C. Winston Company. Quoted in Bartlett, J. (1992). Bartlett’s familiar quotations (J. Kaplan, Ed.) (16th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company, p. 451.

Obama, B. (2009, December 10). Remarks at the acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-acceptance-nobel-peace-prize

Roosevelt, F. D. (1933, March 4). Quoted in Bartlett, J. (1992). Bartlett’s familiar quotations (J. Kaplan, Ed.) (16th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company, p. 648.

Roosevelt, T. (1901, September 2). Speech at Minnesota State Fair. Quoted in Bartlett, J. (1992). Bartlett’s familiar quotations (J. Kaplan, Ed.) (16th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown, & Company, p. 575.

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