Friday, November 12, 2010

Of Speakers and Sketchballs

From the podium to the gutter, everyone's talking about speech:
  • Ted Sorensen's "taut, muscular orations" were more than speeches: they were "political theater of the highest order." At Pundit Wire, Ted Widmer explicates the top ten speeches of Sorensen's career to demystify—and show off—the master's rhetorical magic. Among the most notable speeches: Kennedy's underrated but often-quoted address at University of Washington, ("We must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient") and his Lincoln-influenced "Farewell to Massachusetts," ("We shall be as a city on a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us").
  • Thanks to Jerry Tarver, retired Professor of Speech Communication and "speechwriting guru-of-guru," Ohio State is now the proud owner of thousands of rhetoric, oratory, and elocution books and manuscripts. The Tarver Collection—housed at the university's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library and focusing on pre-1900 texts—includes all 58 issues of Edgar Werner's Readings and Recitations, lecture notes from and 1837 rhetoric course, and a handful of elocution books in languages other than English. Tarver tells Vital Speeches that the institution "has my total respect for its willingness to preserve, along with obviously important literary material, items that tell us something about the byways of our culture." Plus, he notes, "it's a hoot getting all this together."
  • "Slang has always served as a secret language, in one way or another; one meant to exclude parents or dweebs, to shun outsiders or tag criminals," writes The Book Bench's Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn. But while new insider terms for unwanted outsiders—think "creeper," "rando," and "sketchball"—are popping on college campuses, such coded language has an equally rich (or richer) history less savory circles. Foley-Mendelssohn takes a tour through the linguistic underbelly courtesy of The First English Dictionary of Slang, 1699, (original title: A Dictionary of Beggars and Gypsies Cant).

No comments: