Speak To Me, But Think First

An old proverb says it particularly well:

There is a reason that you have two ears and but one mouth.”

Sometimes the smartest thing to say is not what you are planning, but instead, “Would you please repeat that?”

Speaking Without Thought

Many people speak before they think. This phenomenon is documented by doctors. The human brain begins formulating a response to a statement after hearing only four words.

Still Shrinking

Longa 2

Image via Wikipedia

Surely, by the time that the Generation X-ers reach the current Boomers’ age, the number of words will be even smaller. X-ers do know everything, you see. Perhaps that is why the number is so small now. Respondents are certain they know what the other person is going to say.

Two Notes!

Are we so advanced that our verbal skills are rendered mute? Have we become truly telepathic? Maybe, Hollywood could remake the “Name that Tune” game show.

Blah, Blah, Blah, But…

Another explanation could be the respondent feels his point is more valid. Although this seems rather egocentric, there could be some validity to it. Are you saying the same thing for the 18th time?

Watching The Clock

Yet still, as a society, are we so pressed for time we feel the need to abbreviate all interactions in our lives? Common catchphrases today are mostly sentences or phrases slurred into a single word or initials of words. Time is valuable, after all.

Just give me the Cliff’s Notes version.

English: French teenage girl texting while rea...

This theory is tested every single day on your computer, on your bookshelf and in your newspaper. Headlines scream or tantalize in the fewest words possible to entice you to read further. Condensed novels are selling on Kindles at record rates.


This abbreviation is evident in text messages and email slang. While arguments can be made that it saves the typing time, the same argument cannot viably be applied to speech. Honestly, can you make your point in four words or less?

Speak to me.

Deutsch: Kaffeetasse mit Milchkaffee (Café au ...

As we seek to pack the most into the least (think shot of espresso vs. a large cafe au lait), we need to take the time to listen and appropriately discourse. Conversation need not become a lost art.

Wait for it!

Knowing time is valuable, please make the effort to listen long enough the question need not be repeated when your invalid response is delivered. The qualifier which may completely change your view on the subject may well be delivered at the end of the sentence!


When was the last time the message changed at the very end? What abbreviation do you despise the most?


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2011
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  1. I guess speech simplification comes from Text Speak which is now creeping into the written word over here in the UK.

    I’m guilty of using shorthand like LMFAO!!! But tend to avoid the other abbreviations because I don’t remember what they mean! 🙂

    Language is a living thing and as generations grow and develop so do the words which appear for things we have no names for yet.

    TXT SPK is with us I’m afraid, but I have to ask: Will it remain???

    Love and hugs!


    • I wish I could say it would not. Alas, I do not believe that even as I type it. I admit to using a bit online (including ROFL!), but I am often cited for being the one to text in complete sentences…with punctuation. {HUGZ} Red.

      • Yes, I struggle sometimes to read stuff by people who only seem to use the full stop!

        I have a lot of practice helping the kids with homework and their spelling which was based on ‘new’ methods of teaching that left the kids pretty much illiterate so I had to teach them the ‘old way’ so they could write the word as it was spelt, not as it sounded…

        Sometimes ‘New’ may seem exciting, but in truth it’s a joke…

        Love and hugs Prenin.

        • We could go on for D.A.Y.S. about illiteracy…especially amongst my writing colleagues. Not all things need improvement. Hmm. I think I feel a post coming on… Thanks, Pren {HUGZ} Red.

  2. Among the brightest, most accomplished, and most intelligent people I have met in my life, I’ve been equally, if not more impressed, with the quality of the questions they ask of others in the course of a conversation than what they actually have to say. It is a delight to watch their mind working as they gather and accumulate information, and perhaps that is why what they then have to say always seems so meaningful in response. Thoughtful observation and analysis takes time.

    • Excellent questions are always more difficult to assemble than statements. Beyond that, they exhibit an inherent thirst for knowledge I personally respect. I prefer to listen to the question and (think, weigh, theorize, evaluate) before I speak. Typically, my answers do not come from a box. 😉 Red.

  3. bear

     /  December 22, 2011

    Yep, I try really hard to keep my foot out of my mouth!

  4. Red, here are four words, “Let’s insist upon literacy.”

    The world is NOT going to be a ‘better place’ with ever more people that fail to communicate in a literate manner.
    I imagine primitive people were quite amazed and happy every time they ‘created’ a new word , learned to write it, –and became more literate–so why is the general populace so intent on the destruction of literacy? There are totally uneducated, illiterate people with university degrees. *sigh

    • Sadly, the number of graduated illiterate is still rising. I would like to think it is an isolated event, but it appears more global than I would have ever imagined. Red.

  5. Bear

     /  December 22, 2011

    You’re right about illiteracy. I work with some one who blurted out “I not stupid!” This topic can go a long way in different directions simply because most Americans are lazy. They work harder at finding a quick way to say or do somthing than it would take to just do it. We accept laziness as a way of life. We don’t push our children to learn or excel at anything. Whether it’s school, job or even home life. We have stopped being a leader in education, industry just about everything and until we wake up and smell the handwriting on the wall…even if it says rofl.

    • It is no wonder the American public is willing to accept anything said on television or in a news blurb as fact. What will it take for parents to take their children’s futures into account, stop being their “friends” and start raising the generation who will choose their nursing home?

  6. I certainly miss good conversations. I know people my age who can’t put the phone down while I’m visiting them. They look for the next text and will send one back. It might be my company, but I’m pretty sure they do it with everyone.

    • If they do it with you, they do it with everyone. I am amazed at the people who do this. They have no idea how rude it is to interrupt.

      • I understand this in young people….day and age that it is, but older people should know better. I guess they are all caught up in technology too.
        I told my children I feel sorry for them when they get a job. Considering the short attention spans, technology lust and lack of manners, but then I realized that everyone they work with will probably be the same way. What is the world coming to?

  7. awarewriter

     /  December 22, 2011

    I despise all of the abbreviations (even though I use a few now and then). Language is such a beautiful thing. It’s not the quantity of words that matter but the quality of those words. You can say a lot in a few words.

    Here’s an example of a single word sentence that speaks volumes:

    “Nuts!” General McAuliffe’s answer to the German demand that he surrender during the Battle of the Bulge.

    Me? I’m trying to make my sentences longer these days.


    • Tune in for Friday Follies for the opinion about how long my sentences are 😉

      • awarewriter

         /  December 22, 2011

        I crafted a 55 word sentence this morning. Such fun.


        • I am afearda counting some of mine…Good rule of thumb: If the paragraph is 18 lines long with no periods…it may be too long. ROFL! Red.

  8. I am amazed at how today’s students have no clue when it comes to literacy and many other subjects. You actually see some of that txt spk in papers!!! I teach 7th, 8th, 9th in Sunday School, and I swear every Sunday, I have to explain at least two words that they have never even heard of. Trying to get them to think through to answer questions – fogettaboutit!!!!! This class seems to be much worse than any I’ve taught in the past, and it scares me! It scares me for the church, true, but it also scares me for our country. ::stepping off soapbox:: I get almost as much from the comments here as I do from your posts! Great job as usual 🙂

    • I am so glad you do. Were it not for my readers, I would certainly have quit this long ago. Back before they were called blogs, I did this same type of blogging, but we did not have comments. I like it so much better now! *Looks the other way, whistling, and pretends she did not just completely give away her age*

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