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Become More Articulate

What does it mean to become more articulate? Do we need to master the Oxford Dictionary, sprinkling words like obsequious or colloquial into daily conversation?

I don’t think that’s necessary. We should learn the meaning of sesquipedalian (words with many syllables) phrases so that when we read or hear them, we can participate in the conversation. But using a long word when a short one gets the job done is usually a bad idea.

To become more articulate, make your point in a clear and educated manner. This is no easy feat. We often fill our conversations and writing with convoluted reasoning, jumbled words, and the pervasive “umm.”

Articulation takes practice, and one of the best ways to improve is to read books written by well-spoken authors. These are the craftspeople who care about words. They put energy into their sentences and they make love to the language.

If you would like to become more articulate, may I suggest a few books that will help?

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: Experience the life of a slave who teaches himself to read and write. Through his education, he learns that he is not property, but a human being. Douglass then goes on to become one of the greatest and most articulate speakers in U.S. history.

The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker: A non-fiction book that attacks inarticulation. Pinker does a fantastic job wading through prose that’s full of the unthinkable. He then gives you the tools to improve your communication.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf: A fictional tale of a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares to host a party. Woolf was a brilliant writer, one whom I could sit with for hours in conversation. When you read works like this, you’re bound to find articulation along the way. Woolf suffered from bipolar disorder, and yet her work continues to make a mark.

Learn the meaning of sesquipedalian words, but to become more articulate, learn to speak by reading well-written books. The more you read, the more articulate you’ll become.

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