Expressing ourselves clearly

In a comment piece in the Times in September Clare Foges overlooked the need to consider an audience, something that was not addressed by subsequent correspondents. Consideration of an audience is a crucial matter in both spoken and written communication which I always sought to explain to my students.

The need for clear, unambiguous expression in writing is immediately understandable as we realise that the writer is rarely present when their words are read. Should the reader be unable to make sense of what has been written it is impossible to seek immediate clarification from the writer. By the same token much the same applies when we express ourselves orally. In face to face communication we may seek clarification but when we  listen to a voice that is broadcast, or has been recorded it is no use a puzzled listener raising a hand. If the speaker’s voice is not clear, or the words spoken fail to make sense, their attempt at communication will have failed.

Parents often come to realise that teenagers can speak two dialects; one based on standard English which they use with parents and teachers, and another used on phone calls to “cool” friends. We must encourage such competence.

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