The Art of Public Speaking HTML version
It is the great point of these imitations that there still shines beyond the student's reach, his inimitable model.
Let him try as he please, he is still sure of failure; and it is an old and very true saying that failure is the only
highroad to success.
Form the Reference-Book Habit
Do not be content with your general knowledge of a word--press your study until you have mastered its
individual shades of meaning and usage. Mere fluency is sure to become despicable, but accuracy never. The
dictionary contains the crystallized usage of intellectual giants. No one who would write effectively dare
despise its definitions and discriminations. Think, for example, of the different meanings of mantle, or model,
or quantity. Any late edition of an unabridged dictionary is good, and is worth making sacrifices to own.
Books of synonyms and antonyms--used cautiously, for there are few perfect synonyms in any language--will
be found of great help. Consider the shades of meanings among such word-groups as thief, peculator,
defaulter, embezzler, burglar, yeggman, robber, bandit, marauder, pirate, and many more; or the distinctions
among Hebrew, Jew, Israelite, and Semite. Remember that no book of synonyms is trustworthy unless used
with a dictionary. "A Thesaurus of the English Language," by Dr. Francis A. March, is expensive, but full and
authoritative. Of smaller books of synonyms and antonyms there are plenty.
Study the connectives of English speech. Fernald's book on this title is a mine of gems. Unsuspected pitfalls
lie in the loose use of and, or, for, while, and a score of tricky little connectives.
Word derivations are rich in suggestiveness. Our English owes so much to foreign tongues and has changed so
much with the centuries that whole addresses may grow out of a single root-idea hidden away in an ancient
word-origin. Translation, also, is excellent exercise in word-mastery and consorts well with the study of
Phrase books that show the origins of familiar expressions will surprise most of us by showing how carelessly
everyday speech is used. Brewer's "A Dictionary of Phrase, and Fable," Edwards' "Words, Facts, and
Phrases," and Thornton's "An American Glossary," are all good--the last, an expensive work in three volumes.
A prefix or a suffix may essentially change the force of the stem, as in master-ful and master-ly, contempt-ible
and contempt-uous, envi-ous and envi-able. Thus to study words in groups, according to their stems, prefixes,
and suffixes is to gain a mastery over their shades of meaning, and introduce us to other related words.
Do not Favor one Set or Kind of Words more than Another
"Sixty years and more ago, Lord Brougham, addressing the students of the University of Glasgow, laid down
the rule that the native (Anglo-Saxon) part of our vocabulary was to be favored at the expense of that other
part which has come from the Latin and Greek. The rule was an impossible one, and Lord Brougham himself
never tried seriously to observe it; nor, in truth, has any great writer made the attempt. Not only is our
language highly composite, but the component words have, in De Quincey's phrase, 'happily coalesced.' It is
easy to jest at words in -osity and -ation, as 'dictionary' words, and the like. But even Lord Brougham would
have found it difficult to dispense with pomposity and imagination."
The short, vigorous Anglo-Saxon will always be preferred for passages of special thrust and force, just as the
Latin will continue to furnish us with flowing and smooth expressions; to mingle all sorts, however, will give
variety--and that is most to be desired.
Discuss Words With Those Who Know Them
Since the language of the platform follows closely the diction of everyday speech, many useful words may be