We in our modern culture have many theories of words. It almost seems like we are better at theorizing about them than forming them and using them. I mentioned in a previous post about a theory of language that supposes the evolution of communication is indicated by the ability to convey the most information in fewest characters. Modern technology allows us to convey a statement or opinion with mere taps of the thumbs. But at what desperate cost? Will linguists and historians examine remnants of today’s communication and find only “lol”s and“omg”s? What pathetic epithets for our times.
How about we think about language and speech as a craft, rather than language as a mere tool. I can’t speak for all, but I would much prefer “great exaltation” to “lol.”
This little poem of mine is just my little apologetic for something that I think has been lost.
Ode to Eloquence
Oh to be eloquent! To adorn
Life’s proverbial clean slate
Oh the pages and tablets of Time,
how I yearn to decorate.
Of Themistocles and Cicero
And what they had to tell,
Would it be so tantamount
if they had not said it well?
It’s rhetoric and dramatic prose
the learned professors teach,
that turns a plain directive
into a battle speech
Oh Eloquence! Thou conveyor of dreams
And goad of goals,
Thou mover of men;
fair stirrer of souls.
Let others on bland language sup
But I, with eloquence fill my cup.
We as a culture need to remember our rhetorical roots. We need a recovery of eloquence, a rediscovery of rhetoric and reevaluation of language’s true meaning. Every now and again, my mother, a high school English teacher, would employ the “synonym rule” at home. Every time a family member transgressed proper speaking with an overused cliché like “awesome” or “stuff” we had to think of at least one synonym that was better suited for the context. It started as a slight joke, but then evolved into a fun exercise for family dinner conversation. This is just one practical way we can improve our speech to make it more pleasing. Maybe in time we can recover eloquence for future generations.