Letters: February 2009
Letters to the Editor
In Short, You Get Support
I belong to a small, yet dynamic club. I have taken an executive position within the club, despite being a novice Toastmaster (as has our president, who joined when I did). But as the old adage says, you only get out of something what you put into it. My fellow club members must all have the same attitude, because each and every time I attend a meeting I am rewarded with vibrancy, humor, great speeches, camaraderie, support, friendship and the talent of my fellow Norvicians, and all that while I’m learning valuable skills. Thank you, Toastmasters, for being there!
Wendy Swinton • Norvic Toastmasters Club • Victoria BC, Canada
Encouraged and Empowered
To me, a non-native speaker of English, Toastmasters has been a goldmine of opportunities for getting over the linguistic hang-ups of having been born and raised in a foreign country (in my case, Italy).
For those of us born and raised in non-English-speaking countries, the challenge of speaking in front of a group entails much more than just overcoming the fear of public speaking. We must first acquire technical linguistic competence and then embody confidence in the new language. This is something native speakers [take for granted].
It is precisely in these sociolinguistic aspects that the Toastmasters experience shines with unequaled brilliance for us non-native speakers. Toastmasters clubs offer such supportive, nonjudgmental environments where we feel both encouraged and empowered at each step of the way to develop the very confidence we so badly need to grow as effective speakers. I have personally gained more self-confidence and effectiveness as a speaker in the past 11 months as a Toastmaster than I did during my preceding 20 years of life in the U.S. I’ve witnessed such a marvelous personal transformation, which attests to how valuable the Toastmasters experience truly is.
Rino St. Paule, CC, CL • Toastmasters 90210 • Beverly Hills, California
Don’t Drop the Ball – Raise the Question!
John Cadley’s (January) article lambasting “smarty-pants verbiage” and “linguistic social climbers” is ironic, considering his misuse of “begs the question.” To beg the question does not mean to raise the question! To beg the question is a logical fallacy in which a statement is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement. Mr. Cadley might follow his own advice, “If you’re going to use big words...do it right.“
Keith D. Hanson Jr., ATMB, CL • Au Jus Toastmasters • Simi Valley, California
A Whopper of a Word
Your article (“Big Words? Big Deal!”) was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Thanks for the humorous play with words.
Robin D. Domino, ATMB • National Finance Center Toastmasters • Chalmette, Louisiana
I enjoyed the article “Big Words? Big Deal” by John Cadley. It reminded me of the latest of many lessons I have learned at Toastmasters – you’re never too old to learn new words!
I was grammarian at a club meeting where a speaker cited a lot of poetry in her talk. I enjoyed being grammarian; I am confident in my knowledge of grammar and I have an extensive vocabulary (or so I thought). The poetry spoke to me as if it was said in prose, so I complimented the speaker on being “prosaic,” because that’s how I have always used that word (on the rare occasions I have found a use for it).
Being a conscientious member, she looked up the word in the dictionary when she got home, then complained to the club president that I had insulted her, because to be prosaic is “lacking in wit or imagination.”
Ouch! After my deep-felt apology was gracefully received and accepted, I took the lesson to heart – you’re never too old to learn new words!
Keith Hart, CC, CL • Cottonwood Speakers • Blandford Forum, United Kingdom
A Riposte to Remember
I take umbrage with John Cadley’s diatribe upon lexophiles employing sesquipedalian verbiage. Multi- syllabic words are arguably the ultimate demonstration of bon mots and sine qua non to polished communication between scholars. Only troglodytes promulgate mono- syllabic utterances as de rigueur and, ipso facto, establish vulgar, inchoate and jejune speech as standard usage.
Consider, if you will, the je ne sais quoi of chiliastic metaphors. The imposition of order upon chaos is, in fact, the dream of all who apply rhetorical logos via linguistic legerdemain, surely no province of the non compos mentis amongst us.
Mr. Cadley, do not consider this rejoinder a ferula over your reticence to embrace “poly-syllabism” as a philosophy. It is merely my satyagraha to enhance critical thinking by enlarging vocabulary. Rather than argufy, I wish you a generous pair of comfortable pajamas to promote restful slumber, hoping it will prevent further somnambulistic episodes on your word processor. After all, we are all epigone compared to Papa Hemingway.
Did I just prove your point? Oh well, I’ll just go back to reading my New Yorker. Thanks for the great article.
Ernest R. Raynor III, CC • All Stars Toastmasters • Tulsa, Oklahoma