The Use Of Words In Context

The Use Of Words In Context was written to help collage students to understand their collage materials vocabulary.

The Use Of Words In Context

The Speech Situation is a term worn with age in the teaching of public speaking in America. That it is comprised of occasion, speaker, and topic is a gross oversimplification. It also includes challenge, anxiety, emotion, fear, responsibility, faults of memory, and instants of pride.

Out of the circumstances arise an increase in heart rate, a change in blood pressure, an abnormal pattern of breathing, a noticeable build­ up in perspiration, and an ongoing evaluation. For students, this may be merely a grade or perhaps a series of evaluative remarks, possibly addressed both to the speaker and the other participants, the audience. It may entail a replaying of a record of the speech, indeed a videotape.

Most important is the lasting impression that remains with all of the participants. What of the vocabulary of the speaker under the circumstances of the speech situation? This speaker – in the major portions of this work we may say, “this young man” – has spent time seeking an appropriate topic.

He has outlined a composition around a central idea or thesis. He has marshaled evidence, details. He has framed an opening paragraph. He has been admonished not to give an essay, but to strive for audience contact, interpersonal communication. He makes his audible approach through his vocabulary and accompanying phonology. Under the tension, the speaker repeats; he adds meaningless vocalizations in periods that might logically be pauses. There are slips of the tongue. At worst, failing, he withdraws to await another day.

The vocabulary? One item cannot be overlooked; this is a relatively formal presentation. Even the least inhibited individualist will avoid the rough and ready language of the playfield. The situation brings out the half-remembered word, the one that goes with a special occasion. In short, the language is considered by the speaker to be formal. It resembles “What I hope I can say in twenty years when I explain my delicate surgery to a luncheon club, or what I hope to be able to say to a jury; it is better than the ordinary approach I shall make to a customer. This is my best college-age vocabulary and I put it to use in purposeful oral communication.”