Monday, February 04, 2008

Speak the Speech, I Pray You . . . .




-LOQUY [L. loqui, to speak]

In the 16th and 17th centuries, there was an outbreak of words ending in -loquy, from the Latin loqui, to speak. At the time, they were deemed necessary to name various forms of discourse, but most of them dropped away over the centuries--colloquy and soliloquy being glaring exceptions. I’m not a charter member of the Antiquarian Society, but some of those terms might be worth reviving.

We’ve all heard speakers drift away from the point, politicians among them. This was known as alieniloquy. Its kissing-cousin was ambiloquy, “discourse of doubtful meaning,” as Bailey politely expressed it. And we’ve watched Presidential candidates as they gleefully point out contradictions in their opponent’s stand, a clear case of antiloquy and obloquy. Of course, when they twist the truth, we’re in the presence of tortiloquy.

Less grandiloquy and magniloquy (protracted and inflated speech) should be the norm. Let’s have more plain and blunt language; let’s have some planiloquy. Or, for that matter, what about some pleasant talk for a change: let’s hear it for dulciloquy and suaviloquy. Above all, avoid foolish babbling (stultiloquy) and boasting (vaniloquy).

A few other words in this category are worth mentioning. Actors depended on cues spoken by other actors to know when to begin their lines; this was called anteloquy. The beginning of a speech was the archiloquy. Tardiloquy was very slow speech, and dentiloquy was the grating habit of speaking through your teeth.

Time for me to take a nap. Remember, I’m not responsible for anything that I mutter in my sleep (somniloquy).


SIDEBAR: Bailey’s Dictionary


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