Alternative Histories of English

By Richard Watts; Peter Trudgill | Go to book overview

9

Eloquence and elegance

Ideals of communicative competence in spoken English

Sharon Millar

Where grammar ends, eloquence begins.

(George Campbell)

The theme of this chapter is the development of ideals in relation to verbal expression in spoken English. The perspective taken is that of three of the spoken 'arts': oratory, conversation and reading aloud. These skills had considerable cultural and social significance, but they have not been given a great deal of attention in histories of the English language. In part this is the result of the traditional emphasis on the written channel, meaning that general ideals applicable to speech as well as writing, such as eloquence, tend to be narrowed down to written varieties, such as literary prose (see for example Leith and Graddol 1996). Even in histories of pronunciation, the spoken arts do not make much of an appearance since these are generally concerned with phonological descriptions or the standardisation of accent, where emphasis is usually placed on sociolinguistically significant, allophonic realisations (see for example Mugglestone 1995; MacMahon 1998).

The limited mention of spoken skills is not, I believe, due to their inherent lack of interest for histories of the language. It is more a question of focus. So, for instance, Baron (2000) mentions oratory and reading aloud since her concern is with the evolution of written English and its relation to the spoken medium. Some historians, such as Burke (1993), Cmiel (1990) and Jamieson (1988), have taken an interest in matters of communicative competence, specifically conversation and public speaking, in the belief, not held by all historians, that language is a significant element of social and cultural history. I would argue that a focus on the spoken arts can contribute to a cultural history of the English language in a number of ways. Firstly, since oratory and conversation dealt with communication, they give us an insight into contemporary ideals of public discourse and how these evolved. These ideals touched many aspects of linguistic structure as they essentially dealt with style, both linguistic and cultural. Secondly, as dimensions of legitimised communicative competence, forming part of what Bourdieu (1991) terms 'cultural capital', i.e. skills valued by the powerful and influential in society,

-173-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Alternative Histories of English
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 281

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.