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Ideal Speech

Sep 14, 2017 in Consideration

Human language is a valuable tool which helps people communicate their thoughts, ideas, information, and everything else their interlocutors have to know. However, it is also a complicated mechanism and one has to be careful with – effective communication brings numerous advantages, while the poor one might have disastrous consequences. A number of researchers have tried to reveal the secret of the ideal speech, and they seem to have agreed on what it is supposed to be, but unfortunately, the knowledge of the theory does not necessarily mean the ideal speech would work in practice.

Obviously, everyone might have a personal definition of the ideal speech according to his or her purposes of communication. White defines the main principles the ideal speech has to be based on (as mentioned in Day, 1993, p. 6). First of all, everyone who is capable and willing to speak has the right to participate in a conversation. It means that all the participants can ask any questions and bring forward any proposals they have. Moreover, anyone can express their attitudes and opinions. While with questions and proposals it might be relatively easy, the expression of personal opinions is a more complicated procedure, because in reality, not all speakers are willing to hear someone else’s opinions. Moreover, there are also interpersonal relations and moral principles which might prevent the participants from the discourse of expressing their attitudes. Apart from that, there is also subjectivism and prejudices influencing the way the audience comprehends the speaker, therefore, the expression of opinions might even provoke conflicts in some situations. Finally, White (Day, 1988, p. 4) argues that no speaker has to be compelled to speak. However, this final factor looks like a contradiction in terms, because everyone is driven by compulsion, whether it comes from outside or inside of the discourse.

Mezirow (Day, 1988), as well, has elaborated his own principle of an ideal speech. According to him, the speakers should, first of all, have to be accurately and completely informed about what is discussed. Secondly, they should be able to provide solid reasoning for their claims. Finally, the participants should make sure that their “participation is free of inhibitions, compensatory mechanisms or other forms of self-deception” (Day, 1993 p. 10). Nevertheless, it goes without saying that the information can never be absolutely full and accurate, and there is always something to learn. The third point is also hard to put to practice. The ideal speech means that all its participants are free of any constraints, which is utterly impossible. There many restrictions in every communicative act, starting from such basic things as time or style, and finishing by more subtle ones, like social norms, attitudes or personal interests. Next, in the ideal speech, the participants are free to agree or dispute, ask questions or suggest their own interpretations, but most importantly, their arguments are based on their knowledge and they are driven by curiosity, not by one-upmanship. In short, the interlocutors have to stay as objective as possible, leave all their feelings aside, and their primary aim is to have a profound conversation.

Apart from that, the ideal speech will probably remain a dream because of the human language itself. It has to be kept in mind that every speaker uses the language so that it sounds sophisticated and interesting. Of course, the message could be sent using straightforward language patterns, but such way is too simple for people. Certainly, most speeches contain irony, metaphors, clichés, sarcasm and many other stylistic devices, all of which can be interpreted indifferent ways depending on the situation. In other words, while proclaiming a speech, the speaker tries to have an illocutionary effect on the audience. By doing so, he or she obviously expects the audience to think and act in a certain way, but in many cases, the result is different from what is expected. The reason for this is people’s different experience. Therefore, while hearing the same sentence, every interlocutor will understand it in his or her own way, and this understanding might be different from that the speaker is trying to communicate.

To sum up, the ideal speech contains a number of elements which rarely happen in real life. While speakers can follow some rules suggested by the researchers, the participants of the intercourse still share different experience and have different purposes in mind which means that what a speaker is aiming to say is always different from what the audience actually hears, so the ideal speech exists only in theory.

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