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ORATORY AND SPEECHES
The oratorical s ty I e of language is the oral subdivision of the publicistic style. It has already been pointed out that persuasion is the most obvious purpose of oratory.
"Oratorical speech", writes A. Potebnya, "seeks not only to secure the understanding and digesting of the idea, but also serves * simultaneously as a spring setting off a mood (which is the aim) that may lead to action." l
Direct contact with the listeners permits a combination of the syntactical, lexical and phonetic peculiarities of both the written and spoken varieties of language. In its leading features, however, oratorical style belongs to the written variety of language, though it is modified by the oral form of the utterance and the use of gestures. Certain typical features of the spoken variety of speech present in this style are: direct address to the audience (ladies and gentlemen, honourable member(s), the use of the 2nd person pronoun you, etc.), sometimes contractions (/'//, won't, haven't, isn't and,others) and the use of colloquial words.
This style is evident in speeches on political and social problems of the day, in orations and addresses on solemn occasions, as public weddings, funerals and jubilees, in sermons and debates and also in the speeches'of counsel and judges in courts of law.
Political speeches fall into two categories: parliamentary debates, and speeches at rallies, congresses, meetings and election campaigns.
Sermons deal mostly with religious subjects, ethics and morality; sometimes nowadays they take up social and political problems as well.
Orations on solemn public occasions are typical specimens of this style and not a few of their word sequences and phrases are ready-made phrases or cliches.
The sphere of application of oratory is confined to an appeal to an audience and therefore crucial issues in such spheres as science, art, literature, or business relations are not touched upon except perhaps by allusion. .If such ðãîÛ¸òç are dealt with in oratorical style the effect is humorous. The following extract from "Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" by Charles Dickens is ^ parody of an oration.
— "But I trust, Sir", said Pott, "that I have never abused the enormous power I wield. I trust, Sir, that I have never pointed the noble instrument which is placed in my hands, against the sacred bosom of private life, of the tender breast of individual reputation;— I trust, Sir, that I have devoted my energies to—to endeavours—humble they may be, humble I know they are—to instil those principles of—which—are—."
— Here the editor of the Eatonswill Gazette appearing to ramble, Mr. Pickwick came to his relief, and said — "Certainly."—
The stylistic devices employed in oratorical style are determined by the conditions of communication. If the desire of the speaker is to rouse the audience and to keep it in suspense, he will use various traditional stylistic devices. But undue prominence given to,the form may lead to an exaggerated use of these devices, to embellishment.
Tradition is very powerful in oratorical style and the 16th century rhetorical principles laid down by Thomas Wilson in his "Arte of Rhe-torique" are sometimes still used in modern oratory, though, on the whole, modern oratory tends to lower its key more and more, confining itself to a quiet business-like exposition of ideas. Stylistic devices are closely interwoven and mutually complementary thus building up an intricate pattern. For example, antithesis is framed by parallel constructions, which, in their turn, are accompanied by repetition, while climax can be formed by repetitions of different kinds.
As the audience rely only on memory, the speaker often resorts to repetitions to enable his listeners to follow him and retain the main points of his speech. Repetition is also resorted to in order to convince the audience, to add weight to the speaker's opinion.
The following extract from the speech of the American Confederate general, A. P. Hill, on the ending of the Civil War in the U.S.A. is an example of anaphoric repetition:
"It is high time this people had recovered from the passions of war. It is high time that counsel were taken from statesmen” not demagogues'... It is high time the people of the North and the South understood each other and adopted means to inspire confidence in each other."
Further, anadiplosis is used:
"The South will not secede again. That was her great folly— folly against her own interest, not wrong against you.
A mere repetition of the same idea and in the same linguistic form may bore- the audience and destroy the speaker-audience contact, therefore synonymic phrase repetition is used instead, thus fill'ing up the speech with details and embellishing it, as in this excerpt from a speech on Robert Burns:
"For Burns exalted our race, he hallowed Scotland and the Scottish tongue. Before his time we had f&r a long period been scarcely recognized', we had been falling out of the recollection of the world. From the time of the Union of the Crowns, and still more from the legislative union, Scotland had lapsed into obscurity. Except for an occasional riot or a Jacobite rising, her existence was almost forgotten."
Here synonymic phrase repetition ('been scarcely recognized', 'falling out of the recollection of the world', 'had lapsed into obscurity1, 'her existence was almost forgotten') is coupled with climax.
Repetition can be regarded as the most typical stylistic device of English oratorical style. Almost any piece of oratory will have parallel constructions, antithesis, suspense, climax, rhetorical questions and questions-in-the-narrative. It will be no exaggeration to say that almost all the typical syntactical stylistic devices can be found in English oratory. Questions are most frequent because they promote closer contact with the audience. The change of intonation breaks the monotony of the intonation pattern and revives the attention of the listeners.
The desire of the speaker to convince and to rouse his audience results in the use of simile and metaphor, but these are generally traditional ones, as fresh and genuine stylistic devices may divert the attention of the listeners away from the main point of the speech. Besides, unexpected and original images are more difficult to grasp and the process takes time. If a genuine metaphor is used by an orator, it is usually a sustained one, as a series of related images is easier to grasp and facilitates the conception of facts identified one with another.
Allusions in oratorical style depend on the content of the speech and the level of the audience.
Special obligatory forms open up and end an oration, e.g. My Lords; Mr. President; Mr. Chairman; Your Worship; Ladies and Gentlemen, etc. At the end of his speech the speaker usually thanks the audience for their attention by saying: Thank you or Thank you very much. Expressions of direct address may be repeated in the course of the speech and can be expressed differently: dear friends, my friends, Mark youl, Mindl
Here is a sample of the speech made by a member of the House of
Commons in Parliament in April 1956 when the problem of air pollution
was discussed. It is an ordinary speech almost devoid of any signs of
elevation so typical when the orator tries to convince the audience.
"There has been a tremendous change in the Minister's attitude
since the Bill was first brought Jo the House. When we embarked
upon the Committee stage we were begging for bread and he gave
us a stone. Now, seemingly, when we are coming to the end of
, the feast he is putting many sweats in front of us. The Minister
hopes that we shall accept this proposal without too critical an
examination. While welcoming the Minister's proposals about
the Clean Air Council up to a poftit, there should be no interference
with the council's accountability to Parliament because the
chairman of the council will be the Minister.
When the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) introduced a Private Bill, the Minister consulted at great length with interested bodies, and particularly with local authorities. It is within my knowledge that during those consultations suggestions were made to him by people who had practical experience. Those suggestions have not been accepted and woven into the Bill. I do not want the Clean Air Council to become a kind of smokescreen behind which the Minister makes a report to his own liking and which may contain views at variance with those of members of the council,
It is essential, if the council is to be effective, that it includes people who are interested and who have the knowledge and who have undertaken the scientific research involved. It must be remembered that they will have a great deal more knowledge of the subject than will the chairman of the council. They will, therefore, have a totally different point of view about what is happening in the country than will the Minister. We should provide that we have the uncompromising opinions of the members of the council, including those members appointed to it because of their knowledge of the problems of various localities.
Another point with which I want to deal was touched upon by the hon. Member for Kidderminster. During the Committee stage we debated at great length the topic of research into noxious fumes, especially sulphuric oxides. We especially pleaded that the Clean Air Council should have co-ordinating powers so that it could co-ordinate the activities of bodies conducting research into problems of oxides and noxious fumes. Indeed, we thought that the Minister's opinion upon that subject was the same as ours. As the Bill is now drafted, certain powers are given to local authorities to contribute towards the cost of investigation and research into the pollution of the air.
We know that scientific and technical institutes and the fuel technology sections of some universities are conducting research into the problem of sulphuric pollution; yet we do not see any power given to the Clean Air Council to deal with the problem of sulphuric oxides, even though sulphuric pollution is one of the worst forms of air pollution. Will the Minister give us an assurance that he will specially direct the attention of the Clean Air Council to its duties in co-ordinating research into the problem of sulphuric oxides? Will he at the same time look again at the problem of Parliamentary accountability to make it possible for the council to give an annual report to the House, irrespective of the opinions of the Minister?"
The ornamental elements in this speech are reduced to the minimum. It is a matter-of-fact speech where no high-flown words or elaborate stylistic devices are to be found.
It will be of considerable interest to compare this speech to Byron-'s Maiden Speech in the House of Lords in defence of the Luddites, which can be regarded as a perfect specimen of oratorical style. Byron used his eloquence against the Bill providing capital punishment for the destruction of machines. His purpose was to prevent the passage of the Bill, to get an impartial examination of the facts.
Byron's speech is rich in oratorical devices. All these devices are motivated, they are organically connected with the utterance: the form by no means dominates the content.
In contradistinction, an examination of the following speech will show that it is practically devoid 61 meaning. The speaker is merely seeking an effect.
"Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is indeed a great and undeserved privilege to address such an audience as I see before me. At no previous time in the history of human civilization have greater problems confronted and challenged the ingenuity of man's intellect than now. Let us look around us. What do we see on the horizon? What forces are at work? Whither are we drifting? Under what mist of clouds does the future stand obscured?
My friends, casting aside the raiment of all human speech, the crucial test for the solution of all these intricate problems to which I have just alluded is the sheer and forceful application of those immutable laws which down the corridor of Time have always guided the hand of man, groping, as it were, for some faint beacon light for his hopes and aspirations. Without these great vital principles we are but puppets responding to whim and fancy, failing entirely to grasp the hidden meaning of it all. We must re-address ourselves to these questions which press for answer and solution. The issues cannot be avoided. There they stand. It is.upon you, and you, and yet even upon me, that the yoke of responsibility falls.
What, then, is our duty? Shall we continue to drift? No! With all the emphasis of my being I hurl back the message No! Drifting must stop. We must press onward and upward toward the ultimate goal to which all must aspire.
But I cannot conclude my remarks, dear friends, without touching briefly upon a subject which I know is steeped in your very consciousness. I refer to that spirit which gleams from the eyes of a new-born babe, that animates the toiling masses, that sways all the hosts of humanity past and present. Without this energizing principle all commerce, trade and industry are.hushed and will perish from .this earth as surely as the crimson sunset follows the golden sunshine. ^"
Mark you, I do not seek to unduly alarm or distress the mothers, fathers, sons and daughters gathered before me in this vast assemblage, but I would indeed be recreant to a high resolve which I made as a youth if I did not at this time and in this place, and with the full realizing sense of responsibility which I assume, publicly declare and affirm my dedication and-my consecration to the eternal principles "and receipts of simple, ordinary, commonplace justice." l
The proper evaluation of this speech should be: "Words, words, words." The whole speech is made to hide the fact that the speaker has no thought. Questions remain unanswered, climaxes are not motivated. What is the subject that 'cannot be left untouched'? This is really a masterpiece of eloquent emptiness and verbosity.
As a separate form of English literature the essay dates from the close of the 16th century. The name appears to have become common on the publication of Montaigne's "Essays", a literary form created by this French writer. The essay is a literary composition of moderate length on philosophical, social, aesthetic or literary subjects. It never goes deep into the subject, but merely touches upon the surface. Personality in the treatment of theme and naturalness of expression are two of the most obvious characteristics of the essay. An e s s à ó is rather a series of personal and witty comments than a finished argument or a conclusive examination of any matter. This literary genre has definite linguistic traits which shape it as a variety of publicistic style. Here is a part of an essay by Ben Jonson which illustrates this style in its most typicarl and original form as it was at the end of the 16th century:
"Language most shows a man; speak, that I may see thee. It springs out of the most retired and inmost parts of us, and is the image of the parent of it, the mind. No glass renders a man's form or likeness so true, as his speech. Nay, it is likened .to a man; and as we consider feature and composition in a man, so words in language; in the greatness, aptness, sound, structure, and harmony of it. Some men are tall and big, so some language is high and great..Then the words are chosen, the sound ample, the composition full, the absolution plenteous, and poured out, all grace, sinewy and strong. Some are little and dwarfs; so of speech, it is humble and low; the words are poor and flat; the members are periods thin and weak, without knitting or number. The middle are of just stature. There the language is plain and pleasing: even without stopping, round without swelling; all well turned, composed, eloquent, and accurate. The vicious language is vast and gaping; swelling and irregular; when it contends, high, full of rock, mountain and pointedness; as it affects to be low it is abject and creeps, full of bogs and holes."
The essay was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 17th century essays were written on topics connected with morals and ethics, while those of the 18th century focussed attention on political and philosophical problems.
The 18th century was the great age of essay writing. It was then the principal literary form, and discoursed on the important subjects of the day, often-criticizing the shortcomings of the* political and social system in England. "Encyclopedia Britannica" states that the essay became a dominant force in English literature of the 18th century. The following statement of an 18th century essayist is of some interest as it describes the character of the essay: "We writers of essays or (as they are termed) periodical papers"... This statement shows that periodical papers at that time contained only essays.
In the 19th century the essay as a literary term gradually changed into what we now call the journalistic article or feature article which
covers all kinds of subjects from politics, philosophy or aesthetics to travel, sport and fashions. Feature articles are generally published in newspapers, especially weeklies and Sunday editions. They are often written by one and the same writer or journalist, who has cultivated his own individual style.
The most characteristic language features of the essay, however, remain 1) brevity of expression, reaching in good writers a degree of epigrammaticalness, 2) the use of the first person singular, which justifies a personal approach to the problems treated, 3) a rather expanded use of connectives, which facilitate the process of grasping the correlation of ideas, 4) the abundant use of emotive words, 5) the use of similes and sustained metaphors as one of the media for the cognitive process. It is in the interrelation of these constituents that the real secret of the essay substyle consists.
Some essays, depending on the writer's individuality, are written in a highly emotional manner resembling the style of emotive prose, others resemble scientific prose, and the terms review, ò å ò î i r or trea tise are more applicable to certain more exhaustive studies. l
The essay on moral and philosophical topics in modern times has not been so popular, perhaps because a deeper scientific analysis and interpretation of facts is required. The essay in our days is often biographical; persons, facts and events are taken from life. These essays differ from those of previous centuries — their vocabulary is simpler and so is their logical structure and argumentation. But they still retain all the leading features of the publicistic style.
In comparison with oratorical style, the essay aims at a more lasting, hence, at a slower effect. Epigrams, paradoxes and aphorisms are comparatively rare in oratory, as they require the concentrated attention of the listener. In the essay they are commoner, for the reader has opportunity to make a careful and detailed study both of the content of the utterance and its form.
The close resemblance in structure^between the essay and the oration has more than once been emphasized by linguists. The main difference between them is very well summarized by H. Robbins and R. Oliver in their work "Developing Ideas into Essays and Speeches."
"...an essay is distinguished from a speech primarily by the fact that the essay seeks a lasting, the speech an immediate effect. The essay must have a" depth of> meaning which will repay the closest analysis and frequent rereading ... the basic requirement of a good speech is that it carry immediately into the mind of its hearer precisely the point which- the speaker wishes to make."2
Therefore writers say that"... the speaker is allowed much more leeway in sentence structure than the writer."^
In summing up the characteristics of the essay it will not come amiss to give the following epigrammatic definition:
"The Essay is not a treatise. It is not Euclid, it is flash-light. It is not proof, it is representation. It is a chat; the key-note to the essay is its personality."
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