Speaking proper

From the Standard

To understand why this week’s government proposals to teach children to speak properly matter, think back to the US election.

Early on, one journalist came up with an original way of explaining why Barack Obama would beat Hillary Clinton. Read this speech on the web, he said. I did and registered a competent effort that, I thought, would never inspire anyone.

Now click this link and watch Obama deliver it, the journalist continued. I clicked and saw Obama using every rhetorical device to sway the audience.

If people talk of “rhetoric” these days, they mean it as an insult. “That’s just rhetoric,” they say, implying that the speaker is a snake-oil salesman.

Read the whole thing

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7 thoughts on “Speaking proper

  1. Good grief. that is literally the most ignorant article I have ever read. Have you ever heard of Plato, or Aristophanes? A few warnings about the deceptive power of oratory there… Oh Nick, please go to rehab.

  2. Ye-es… but Plato said oratory was deceptive, at great length, an idea Nick describes as “modern” and claims only emerged recently. Aristophanes wrote whole plays about it.

  3. I think he’s having a dig at the modern educational system’s view – that it’s their view phoney was new – so they could justify a change. By doing this, they could then confidently dismiss past teaching, claiming their new way was best for pupils; but, instead, it largely went on to helping them become lingually poorer. His following sentence clearly shows what he himself thinks about it.

  4. This could be measured by the Berks and Wankers consideration, I think.
    Why modernise, for example, the text of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels? Who really wants to read it as if he only sailed back into port 6 months ago? And the irony with this is that it is usually professors of english who are doing the updating; don’t you expect them to be keeping a broad reach of our language alive? What do they expect of this erosion?
    Well, to me, my Gulliver seems like a fraud; he sounds very similar to my next door neighbour. Too much goes with the change.
    A browse of recent authors in your local bookshop will not have you finding 17-18-19th century english. And if there’s no production then we rely on preservation. I wonder how far we are from people thinking the language has always been as it is now?
    Apart from specialising publishers (£), many great works will die – Donne by prof. Carntwright anyone? Milton by Catherine Heavyfoot Mdc, Eng, Harvard Mnc, etc?

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