Another essay by Earl Nightingale from the How to Completely Change Your Life Series
The Most Accessible of Pleasures - Earl Nightingale
The great Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote,
“Talk is by far the most accessible of pleasures. It costs nothing in money, it is all profit, it completes our education, founds and fosters our friendships, and can be enjoyed at any age and in almost any state of health."
In Carl Sagan’s marvelous book, Broca’s Brain, we learn that it was a French physician, Doctor Broca, who first discovered that portion of the human brain responsible for human speech. It came late in our development and is given complete responsibility for our having invented civilization.
Without articulate speech, we would be simply howling and grunting like the beasts in the jungle. Writing could not have been invented nor information passed along from one generation to another. We would have nothing at all that we have today, other than our bodies, had it not been for the development of intelligible speech. It’s an astounding, miraculous kind of thing.
And, it’s why our speech to one another plays such an important part in our lives. I once had a long talk with a young man, age 16, who was planning to become an architect. He was a very good student and quite serious about his education. He told me he found math easy, but he was having a hard time with English. It’s been my experience that that is often the case and works much the same in the reverse. Students with a facility for English often find math difficult.
I explained to him why giving his English studies a lot of attention was so important. I told him that as an architect, he would still be dealing orally with the people necessary for his success. Additionally, he would be expected to write letters, prepare written presentations, and so on. He would find that his ability to use his language would be called upon far more than his sk_ills as an architect. None of us can work in a vacuum, nor want to. We interface with hundreds of other people. And it is our mastery of our language that determines their consideration and evaluation of us.
It is not done consciously. I doubt if few people even think about it once during their lives. But it is a fact nonetheless, that our use of our language determines, to an enormous extent, our place in human society. As an architect, I told him, he would be dealing with other university people on a daily basis. His business clients would evaluate him on the basis of their contact with him.
He didn’t have to become an expert in the use of English. That was for English teachers. But he must have a large and flexible vocabulary, and an unconscious ease with his language. He must not have to think about it too much as he spoke. His ideas and responses must flow from him with facility.
That’s all. And I believe we parted with his having a new respect for that hated subject in school. I wish more English teachers would give students the whole story on why our speech is so vitally important to our lives.
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