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It Comes as a Great Surprise: Speechmaking

Language Features

Some language effects used in oral transactional texts and speeches. Note: Some of these appear in poetic texts also.



Rhetorical means language and effects used to impress or persuade the audience.


Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, but not necessarily needing to be answered

Example: Are we going to put up with curfews and being hassled by the police up town? Who cares? Do you think it is right? I don't. How do you stay healthy on a diet of chips and chocolate?




trying to impress or influence by overstating a viewpoint, statement or idea

Example: Millions of students all over the world go home and rush eagerly into their homework in order to secure their future.




As above, but understating a viewpoint for effect.

Example: A few students will wander home and perhaps turn on television.




When two opposite viewpoints, ideas or concepts are placed close to each other for effect.

Example: The two examples above could be an example of contrast if put together. OR Let us break the chains, shackles and nightmare of slavery and embrace each other in the dream of freedom.



Quotations from well-known sources

Such as the Bible, television, movies, proverbs and clichés: to link with our audience and our common, shared experiences.

Example: Turn the other cheek; An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Yabba Dabba DOOO; Eat my shorts; It's moments like these..... Make my day; I'll be back!; Shaken, not stirred. A stitch in time saves nine; a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush Straight from the horse's mouth



As speakers we want to make our audience agree with us in our viewpoints and be against things we are against. The deliberate use of including or excluding pronouns help speakers do this.


Pronouns to address the audience

Basically to address them as a group, but not necessarily to persuade them at this stage.

Example: You are here tonight to witness the finals of the speech contest, where your sons and daughters face up to a great challenge.



Pronouns to include the audience

Speakers want the audience to be on their side and agree with their statements/ideas

Example: We came here tonight to choose our town symbol. We don't want a clock - Alexandra has a clock. We don't want a humungus trout as our symbol - Rakaia and Turangi have megatrouts. Let us choose our White Horse - it's ours and always will be.



Pronouns to exclude the audience or to distance the audience:

Sometimes we want to distance the audience from those who have differing arguments.

Example: So our elders want a curfew in Waimate. They think it is a good idea to have a curfew of 8 o'clock on a school night for people of our age. Let them have a curfew of 8 o'clock so that they can be out of the pubs and clubs and home with their families as well. They cause more harm in society than teenagers do.



Similar in effect to use of pronouns, choice of words packed with emotion can influence an audience for or against your ideas, to be with you or against you.


Words With Positive Connotation

Warm fuzzy words that help to get the audience on your side.

Example: Imagine the perfect scene, not a care in the world, walking down the street hand in hand with your adoring parents....they stop and buy you a $1.50 triple scoop choc dipped ice cream.....



Words With Negative Connotation

These weasel words have the opposite effects to positively charged emotive words.

Example: From a distance you see them appear, dressed in black, hair like knotted liquorice. Their top lips quiver and sneer in unison like Elvis with a toothache. They see you and appear to scowl and grunt at each other and point at you accusingly.




Similar to exaggeration and understatement close together, +ve and -ve words in close proximity can highlight and improve the effectiveness of your ideas

Example: Your 'nice' day is now ruined. The triple scoop ice cream melts then drips all over your black jersey and up your sleeve. You try sneering like the black-uniformed teenagers in front of you, but your lips are numb from the "ice-cream treat", but what tops it off is that your parents say to you in their loudest voice "Aren't you going to introduce us to your friends dear?". You look around for the nearest manhole cover and hope you can prise it open with sticky, ice-cream covered fingers.





Some language effects used in oral & written transactional texts and speeches. Note: Some of these appear in poetic texts also.


Speeches are normally only meant to be heard once, so the speaker normally tries to make main ideas, keywords and phrases memorable using sound effects and devices.




Repeating the initial consonant of a group of words for aural effect and memorability

Example: We've all heard of Richie Rich, Daffy Duck, Fred Flintstone, Sylvester Stallone and Morris Minor, but the latest and nastiest alliterative villain to slam our screens - a cartoon nasty that leaves Lex Luthor and Dick Dastardly in his dust - is Vicious Vinnie




Repeating vowel sounds for aural effect and memorability

Example: laugh, laugh, cackle and guffaw. That Sam-I-am, That Sam-I-am, I do not like, That Sam-I-am




Where the words used sound like the thing or concept being described

Example: wind swishing or moaning in the treetops

frost crunching underfoot

cock a doodle doo woof woof





Words sounding similar that are pleasant to the ear...they also appeal because the listener can almost predict a part of the speech.

Example: chocolate chips, greasy dips and dairy whips these are the foods that little teenagers are made of



Language that creates a picture in the mind of the listener can assist in the interest level of a speech. The listener visualises or imagines figures, images and comparisons.




Describing two unrelated things using direct comparison. Sometimes the metaphor can be drawn out and becomes an Extended Metaphor.

Example: .....her gaze was icy...

...the salesman was a shark..

the whole sorry incident left a sour taste for every one concerned.

Politicians should darn the holes in the ragged economy before we all start to feel the cold.





Describing two unrelated things or ideas using the linkers "like" or "as"

Example: My love is like a red, red rose that's newly sprung in June, My love is like a melody that's sweetly played in tune.

....As fast as a leopard; As good as gold; as thick as a brick; as sharp as a tack; as silly as a two bob watch; as crook as a dog; like a rat up a drainpipe; like bees around a honeypot.




Giving human qualities to non human or inanimate things

Example: The New Zealand Dollar had a quiet week

Life dealt him a heavy blow

Clouds passed sorrowfully over the graveyard




There are some other devices which help to make speeches more interesting, vibrant, memorable.



Hammer home a point and make it memorable using repetition

Example: Trust is an important concept in society. If you can't trust friends not to blab your secrets all over school; if you can't trust teachers not to blast you for something that he or she let someone away with yesterday; if parents can't trust you enough to let you borrow the car - how can you survive in the modern world.



Parallel structure

This is like repetition, except that phrases and groups of words are repeated for effect

Example: I have a dream. I have a dream that the sons and daughters of former slaves and the sons and daughters of former slaveowners will sit down at the table of brotherhood.

We shall fight them on the beaches, we shall fight them on land and in the air.




In order to emphasise important points lists are often used

Example: Instead of: this school rule change affects all students, say this new school rule change affects form 1's ; form 2's; form 3's; form 4's; form 5's; form 6's; and even form 7's.

OR instead of saying a superannuation law change affects everyone say: This law change will impact on town people and country people; rich people and poor people, maori, pacific islander, Asian and European; employed and unemployed alike.

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