The Humanity Of Words - online book

A Primer Of Semantics

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memorize anything. And there is no need to use the crutch that has been called "notes" or "an outline."41 The verbal pattern hangs together in such a way as to take the speaker progressively toward the endand the final recapitulation of his working-title. The speaker has made this verbal pattern which represents his thinking. And, because he is concerned with transmitting his thinking as systematized by his verbal pattern, he will feedforward. He will tell his listeners what he intends to talk about. He will proceed, then, step by step, to deliver what he has promised. The preparation which the speaker has made at his desk is essential to his security upon a platform.42
But stability is not enough. The platform speaker who is unable to adapt to unexpected circumstances is in the greatest plight. I have heard questions from the floor when the speaker had not invited them; I have heard introductions that have demanded the consideration of certain questions; I have heard laughter when it could mean only derision. These, and others, are the things a speaker must cope with. The speaker's platform is not God's dais.
When a speaker is supported by a cohesive verbal pattern, he can entertain any signs, verbal or nonverbal, that come to him, very much as he would in conversation. For such a speaker addresses the group, however large, in person-to-person fashion. He begins his sentences never
41A speaker will do well to read a list of figures, a quotation, a bibliographical reference, etc., which must be exact.
42 My students prepare in two steps; first, the making of the verbal pattern; second, the testing of the cohesiveness and progressiveness of the verbal pattern. To make this test, they stand up and speak, using the verbal pattern as the basis for the complete development. After they have done this two or three timeseach time using different words, of course they "trust" the verbal pattern. They know it hangs together in such a way as to take them safely to the end. This procedure serves, also, to "time'* the speech, thus to keep it within the required limits.