Speech in Linguistics

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  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In linguistics , speech is a system of  communication  that uses spoken words  (or sound symbols ). 

The study of speech sounds (or spoken language ) is the branch of linguistics known as phonetics . The study of sound changes in a language is phonology . For a discussion of speeches in rhetoric and oratory , see Speech (Rhetoric) .

Etymology:  From the Old English, "to speak"

Studying Language Without Making Judgements

  • "Many people believe that written language is more prestigious than spoken language--its form is likely to be closer to Standard English , it dominates education and is used as the language of public administration. In linguistic terms, however, neither speech nor writing can be seen as superior. Linguists are more interested in observing and describing all forms of language in use than in making social and cultural judgements with no linguistic basis." (Sara Thorne, Mastering Advanced English Language , 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Speech Sounds and Duality

  • "The very simplest element of speech --and by 'speech' we shall henceforth mean the auditory system of speech symbolism, the flow of spoken words--is the individual sound, though, . . . the sound is not itself a simple structure but the resultant of a series of independent, yet closely correlated, adjustments in the organs of speech." ( Edward Sapir , Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech , 1921)
  • "Human language is organized at two levels or layers simultaneously. This property is called duality (or 'double articulation'). In speech production, we have a physical level at which we can produce individual sounds, like n , b and i . As individual sounds, none of these discrete forms has any intrinsic meaning . In a particular combination such as bin , we have another level producing a meaning that is different from the meaning of the combination in nib . So, at one level, we have distinct sounds, and, at another level, we have distinct meanings. This duality of levels is, in fact, one of the most economical features of human language because, with a limited set of discrete sounds, we are capable of producing a very large number of sound combinations (e.g. words) which are distinct in meaning." (George Yule, The Study of Language , 3rd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2006)

Approaches to Speech

  • "Once we decide to begin an analysis of speech , we can approach it on various levels. At one level, speech is a matter of anatomy and physiology: we can study organs such as tongue and larynx in the production of speech. Taking another perspective, we can focus on the speech sounds produced by these organs--the units that we commonly try to identify by letters , such as a 'b-sound' or an 'm-sound.' But speech is also transmitted as sound waves, which means that we can also investigate the properties of the sound waves themselves. Taking yet another approach, the term 'sounds' is a reminder that speech is intended to be heard or perceived and that it is therefore possible to focus on the way in which a listener analyzes or processes a sound wave." (J. E. Clark and C. Yallop, An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology . Wiley-Blackwell, 1995)

Parallel Transmission

  • "Because so much of our lives in a literate society has been spent dealing with speech recorded as letters and text in which spaces do separate letters and words, it can be extremely difficult to understand that spoken language simply does not have this characteristic. . . . [A]lthough we write, perceive, and (to a degree) cognitively process speech linearly--one sound followed by another--the actual sensory signal our ear encounters is not composed of discretely separated bits. This is an amazing aspect of our linguistic abilities, but on further thought one can see that it is a very useful one. The fact that speech can encode and transmit information about multiple linguistic events in parallel means that the speech signal is a very efficient and optimized way of encoding and sending information between individuals. This property of speech has been called parallel transmission ." (Dani Byrd and Toben H. Mintz, Discovering Speech, Words, and Mind . Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

Oliver Goldsmith on the True Nature of Speech

  • "It is usually said by grammarians , that the use of language is to express our wants and desires; but men who know the world hold, and I think with some show of reason, that he who best knows how to keep his necessities private is the most likely person to have them redressed; and that the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants, as to conceal them." (Oliver Goldsmith, "On the Use of Language." The Bee , October 20, 1759)

Pronunciation: SPEECH

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Definition of speech

  • declamation

Examples of speech in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'speech.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English speche , from Old English sprǣc, spǣc ; akin to Old English sprecan to speak — more at speak

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Phrases Containing speech

  • freedom of speech
  • acceptance speech
  • part of speech

speech community

  • polite speech
  • free speech
  • hate speech
  • figure of speech
  • stump speech
  • visible speech
  • speech therapy
  • speech impediment
  • speech form

Dictionary Entries Near speech

Cite this entry.

“Speech.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/speech. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of speech, medical definition, medical definition of speech, legal definition, legal definition of speech, more from merriam-webster on speech.

Nglish: Translation of speech for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of speech for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about speech

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Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones

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The ability to hear is essential for proper speech and language development. Hearing problems may be suspected in children who are not responding to sounds or who are not developing their language skills appropriately. The following are some age-related guidelines that may help to decide if your child is experiencing hearing problems.

It's important to remember that not every child is the same. Children reach milestones at different ages. Talk your child's healthcare provider if you are suspicious that your child is not developing speech and language skills correctly. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and other experts list the following age-appropriate speech and language milestones for babies and young children.

Milestones related to speech and language

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Hearing Problems and Speech and Language Milestones

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  • Parts of speech

The 8 Parts of Speech | Chart, Definition & Examples

The 8 Parts of Speech

A part of speech (also called a word class ) is a category that describes the role a word plays in a sentence. Understanding the different parts of speech can help you analyze how words function in a sentence and improve your writing.

The parts of speech are classified differently in different grammars, but most traditional grammars list eight parts of speech in English: nouns , pronouns , verbs , adjectives , adverbs , prepositions , conjunctions , and interjections . Some modern grammars add others, such as determiners and articles .

Many words can function as different parts of speech depending on how they are used. For example, “laugh” can be a noun (e.g., “I like your laugh”) or a verb (e.g., “don’t laugh”).

Table of contents

  • Prepositions
  • Conjunctions
  • Interjections

Other parts of speech

Interesting language articles, frequently asked questions.

A noun is a word that refers to a person, concept, place, or thing. Nouns can act as the subject of a sentence (i.e., the person or thing performing the action) or as the object of a verb (i.e., the person or thing affected by the action).

There are numerous types of nouns, including common nouns (used to refer to nonspecific people, concepts, places, or things), proper nouns (used to refer to specific people, concepts, places, or things), and collective nouns (used to refer to a group of people or things).

Ella lives in France .

Other types of nouns include countable and uncountable nouns , concrete nouns , abstract nouns , and gerunds .

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A pronoun is a word used in place of a noun. Pronouns typically refer back to an antecedent (a previously mentioned noun) and must demonstrate correct pronoun-antecedent agreement . Like nouns, pronouns can refer to people, places, concepts, and things.

There are numerous types of pronouns, including personal pronouns (used in place of the proper name of a person), demonstrative pronouns (used to refer to specific things and indicate their relative position), and interrogative pronouns (used to introduce questions about things, people, and ownership).

That is a horrible painting!

A verb is a word that describes an action (e.g., “jump”), occurrence (e.g., “become”), or state of being (e.g., “exist”). Verbs indicate what the subject of a sentence is doing. Every complete sentence must contain at least one verb.

Verbs can change form depending on subject (e.g., first person singular), tense (e.g., simple past), mood (e.g., interrogative), and voice (e.g., passive voice ).

Regular verbs are verbs whose simple past and past participle are formed by adding“-ed” to the end of the word (or “-d” if the word already ends in “e”). Irregular verbs are verbs whose simple past and past participles are formed in some other way.

“I’ve already checked twice.”

“I heard that you used to sing .”

Other types of verbs include auxiliary verbs , linking verbs , modal verbs , and phrasal verbs .

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun. Adjectives can be attributive , appearing before a noun (e.g., “a red hat”), or predicative , appearing after a noun with the use of a linking verb like “to be” (e.g., “the hat is red ”).

Adjectives can also have a comparative function. Comparative adjectives compare two or more things. Superlative adjectives describe something as having the most or least of a specific characteristic.

Other types of adjectives include coordinate adjectives , participial adjectives , and denominal adjectives .

An adverb is a word that can modify a verb, adjective, adverb, or sentence. Adverbs are often formed by adding “-ly” to the end of an adjective (e.g., “slow” becomes “slowly”), although not all adverbs have this ending, and not all words with this ending are adverbs.

There are numerous types of adverbs, including adverbs of manner (used to describe how something occurs), adverbs of degree (used to indicate extent or degree), and adverbs of place (used to describe the location of an action or event).

Talia writes quite quickly.

Other types of adverbs include adverbs of frequency , adverbs of purpose , focusing adverbs , and adverbial phrases .

A preposition is a word (e.g., “at”) or phrase (e.g., “on top of”) used to show the relationship between the different parts of a sentence. Prepositions can be used to indicate aspects such as time , place , and direction .

I left the cup on the kitchen counter.

A conjunction is a word used to connect different parts of a sentence (e.g., words, phrases, or clauses).

The main types of conjunctions are coordinating conjunctions (used to connect items that are grammatically equal), subordinating conjunctions (used to introduce a dependent clause), and correlative conjunctions (used in pairs to join grammatically equal parts of a sentence).

You can choose what movie we watch because I chose the last time.

An interjection is a word or phrase used to express a feeling, give a command, or greet someone. Interjections are a grammatically independent part of speech, so they can often be excluded from a sentence without affecting the meaning.

Types of interjections include volitive interjections (used to make a demand or request), emotive interjections (used to express a feeling or reaction), cognitive interjections (used to indicate thoughts), and greetings and parting words (used at the beginning and end of a conversation).

Ouch ! I hurt my arm.

I’m, um , not sure.

The traditional classification of English words into eight parts of speech is by no means the only one or the objective truth. Grammarians have often divided them into more or fewer classes. Other commonly mentioned parts of speech include determiners and articles.

  • Determiners

A determiner is a word that describes a noun by indicating quantity, possession, or relative position.

Common types of determiners include demonstrative determiners (used to indicate the relative position of a noun), possessive determiners (used to describe ownership), and quantifiers (used to indicate the quantity of a noun).

My brother is selling his old car.

Other types of determiners include distributive determiners , determiners of difference , and numbers .

An article is a word that modifies a noun by indicating whether it is specific or general.

  • The definite article the is used to refer to a specific version of a noun. The can be used with all countable and uncountable nouns (e.g., “the door,” “the energy,” “the mountains”).
  • The indefinite articles a and an refer to general or unspecific nouns. The indefinite articles can only be used with singular countable nouns (e.g., “a poster,” “an engine”).

There’s a concert this weekend.

If you want to know more about nouns , pronouns , verbs , and other parts of speech, make sure to check out some of our language articles with explanations and examples.

Nouns & pronouns

  • Common nouns
  • Proper nouns
  • Collective nouns
  • Personal pronouns
  • Uncountable and countable nouns
  • Verb tenses
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Types of verbs
  • Active vs passive voice
  • Subject-verb agreement

A is an indefinite article (along with an ). While articles can be classed as their own part of speech, they’re also considered a type of determiner .

The indefinite articles are used to introduce nonspecific countable nouns (e.g., “a dog,” “an island”).

In is primarily classed as a preposition, but it can be classed as various other parts of speech, depending on how it is used:

  • Preposition (e.g., “ in the field”)
  • Noun (e.g., “I have an in with that company”)
  • Adjective (e.g., “Tim is part of the in crowd”)
  • Adverb (e.g., “Will you be in this evening?”)

As a part of speech, and is classed as a conjunction . Specifically, it’s a coordinating conjunction .

And can be used to connect grammatically equal parts of a sentence, such as two nouns (e.g., “a cup and plate”), or two adjectives (e.g., “strong and smart”). And can also be used to connect phrases and clauses.

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the faculty or power of speaking ; oral communication; ability to express one's thoughts and emotions by speech sounds and gesture: Losing her speech made her feel isolated from humanity.

the act of speaking: He expresses himself better in speech than in writing.

something that is spoken ; an utterance, remark, or declaration: We waited for some speech that would indicate her true feelings.

a form of communication in spoken language, made by a speaker before an audience for a given purpose: a fiery speech.

any single utterance of an actor in the course of a play, motion picture, etc.

the form of utterance characteristic of a particular people or region; a language or dialect.

manner of speaking, as of a person: Your slovenly speech is holding back your career.

a field of study devoted to the theory and practice of oral communication.

Archaic . rumor .

Origin of speech

Synonym study for speech, other words for speech, other words from speech.

  • self-speech, noun

Words Nearby speech

  • speculum metal
  • speech center
  • speech clinic
  • speech community
  • speech correction

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use speech in a sentence

Kids are interacting with Alexas that can record their voice data and influence their speech and social development.

The attorney general delivered a controversial speech Wednesday.

For example, my company, Teknicks, is working with an online K-12 speech and occupational therapy provider.

Instead, it would give tech companies a powerful incentive to limit Brazilians’ freedom of speech at a time of political unrest.

However, the president did give a speech in Suresnes, France, the next day during a ceremony hosted by the American Battle Monuments Commission.

Those are troubling numbers, for unfettered speech is not incidental to a flourishing society.

There is no such thing as speech so hateful or offensive it somehow “justifies” or “legitimizes” the use of violence.

We need to recover and grow the idea that the proper answer to bad speech is more and better speech .

Tend to your own garden, to quote the great sage of free speech , Voltaire, and invite people to follow your example.

The simple, awful truth is that free speech has never been particularly popular in America.

Alessandro turned a grateful look on Ramona as he translated this speech , so in unison with Indian modes of thought and feeling.

And so this is why the clever performer cannot reproduce the effect of a speech of Demosthenes or Daniel Webster.

He said no more in words, but his little blue eyes had an eloquence that left nothing to mere speech .

After pondering over Mr. Blackbird's speech for a few moments he raised his head.

Albinia, I have refrained from speech as long as possible; but this is really too much!

British Dictionary definitions for speech

/ ( spiːtʃ ) /

the act or faculty of speaking, esp as possessed by persons : to have speech with somebody

( as modifier ) : speech therapy

that which is spoken; utterance

a talk or address delivered to an audience

a person's characteristic manner of speaking

a national or regional language or dialect

linguistics another word for parole (def. 5)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

what is speech of words

Figurative Language

what is speech of words

Figurative Language Definition

What is figurative language? Here’s a quick and simple definition:

Figurative language is language that contains or uses figures of speech . When people use the term "figurative language," however, they often do so in a slightly narrower way. In this narrower definition, figurative language refers to language that uses words in ways that deviate from their literal interpretation to achieve a more complex or powerful effect. This view of figurative language focuses on the use of figures of speech that play with the meaning of words, such as metaphor , simile , personification , and hyperbole .

Some additional key details about figurative language:

  • Figurative language is common in all sorts of writing, as well as in spoken language.
  • Figurative language refers to language that contains figures of speech, while figures of speech are the particular techniques. If figurative speech is like a dance routine, figures of speech are like the various moves that make up the routine.
  • It's a common misconception that imagery, or vivid descriptive language, is a kind of figurative language. In fact, writers can use figurative language as one tool to help create imagery, but imagery does not have to use figurative language.

Figurative Language Pronunciation

Here's how to pronounce figurative language: fig -yer-uh-tiv lang -gwij

Figures of Speech and Figurative Language

To fully understand figurative language, it's helpful to have a basic understanding of figures of speech. More specifically, it's helpful to understand the two main types of figures of speech: tropes and schemes .

  • Tropes are figures of speech that play with and shift the expected and literal meaning of words.
  • Schemes are figures of speech that involve a change from the typical mechanics of a sentence, such as the order, pattern, or arrangement of words.

Put even more simply: tropes play with the meaning of words, while schemes play with the structure of words, phrases, and sentences.

The Different Things People Mean When They Say Figurative Language

When people say figurative language, they don't always mean the precise same thing. Here are the three different ways people usually talk about figurative language:

  • Dictionary definition of figurative language: According to the dictionary, figurative language is simply any language that contains or uses figures of speech. This definition would mean that figurative language includes the use of both tropes and schemes.
  • Much more common real world use of figurative language: However, when people (including teachers) refer to figurative language, they usually mean language that plays with the literal meaning of words. This definition sees figurative language as language that primarily involves the use of tropes.
  • Another common real world use of figurative language: Some people define figurative language as including figures of speech that play with meaning as well as a few other common schemes that affect the rhythm and sound of text, such as alliteration and assonance .

What does all that boil down to for you? If you hear someone talking about figurative language, you can usually safely assume they are referring to language that uses figures of speech to play with the meaning of words and, perhaps, with the way that language sounds or feels.

Common Types of Figurative Language

There are many, many types of figures of speech that can be involved in figurative language. Some of the most common are:

  • Metaphor : A figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unrelated things by stating that one thing is another thing, even though this isn't literally true. For example, the phrase "her lips are a blooming rose" obviously doesn't literally mean what it says—it's a metaphor that makes a comparison between the red beauty and promise of a blooming rose with that of the lips of the woman being described.
  • Simile : A simile, like a metaphor, makes a comparison between two unrelated things. However, instead of stating that one thing is another thing (as in metaphor), a simile states that one thing is like another thing. An example of a simile would be to say "they fought like cats and dogs."
  • Oxymoron : An oxymoron pairs contradictory words in order to express new or complex meanings. In the phrase "parting is such sweet sorrow" from Romeo and Juliet , "sweet sorrow" is an oxymoron that captures the complex and simultaneous feelings of pain and pleasure associated with passionate love.
  • Hyperbole : Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration of the truth, used to emphasize the importance of something or to create a comic effect. An example of a hyperbole is to say that a backpack "weighs a ton." No backpack literally weighs a ton, but to say "my backpack weighs ten pounds" doesn't effectively communicate how burdensome a heavy backpack feels.
  • Personification : In personification, non-human things are described as having human attributes, as in the sentence, "The rain poured down on the wedding guests, indifferent to their plans." Describing the rain as "indifferent" is an example of personification, because rain can't be "indifferent," nor can it feel any other human emotion.
  • Idiom : An idiom is a phrase that, through general usage within a particular group or society, has gained a meaning that is different from the literal meaning of the words. The phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" is known to most Americans to mean that it's raining hard, but an English-speaking foreigner in the United States might find the phrase totally confusing.
  • Onomatopoeia : Onomatopoeia is a figure of speech in which words evoke the actual sound of the thing they refer to or describe. The “boom” of a firework exploding, the “tick tock” of a clock, and the “ding dong” of a doorbell are all examples of onomatopoeia.
  • Synecdoche : In synecdoche, a part of something is used to refer to its whole . For example, "The captain commands one hundred sails" is a synecdoche that uses "sails" to refer to ships—ships being the thing of which a sail is a part.
  • Metonymy : Metonymy is a figure of speech in which an object or concept is referred to not by its own name, but instead by the name of something closely associated with it. For example, in "Wall Street prefers lower taxes," the New York City street that was the original home of the New York Stock Exchange stands in for (or is a "metonym" for) the entire American financial industry.
  • Alliteration : In alliteration, the same sound repeats in a group of words, such as the “ b ” sound in: “ B ob b rought the b ox of b ricks to the b asement.” Alliteration uses repetition to create a musical effect that helps phrases to stand out from the language around them.
  • Assonance : The repetition of vowel sounds repeat in nearby words, such as the " ee " sound: "the squ ea ky wh ee l gets the gr ea se." Like alliteration, assonance uses repeated sounds to create a musical effect in which words echo one another.

Figurative Language vs. Imagery

Many people (and websites) argue that imagery is a type of figurative language. That is actually incorrect. Imagery refers to a writers use of vivid and descriptive language to appeal to the reader's senses and more deeply evoke places, things, emotions, and more. The following sentence uses imagery to give the reader a sense of how what is being described looks, feels, smells, and sounds:

The night was dark and humid, the scent of rotting vegetation hung in the air, and only the sound of mosquitoes broke the quiet of the swamp.

This sentence uses no figurative language. Every word means exactly what it says, and the sentence is still an example of the use of imagery. That said, imagery can use figurative language, often to powerful effect:

The night was dark and humid, heavy with a scent of rotting vegetation like a great-aunt's heavy and inescapable perfume, and only the whining buzz of mosquitoes broke the silence of the swamp.

In this sentence, the description has been made more powerful through the use of a simile ("like a great-aunt's..."), onomatopoeia ("whining buzz," which not only describes but actually sounds like the noise made by mosquitoes), and even a bit of alliteration in the " s ilence of the s wamp."

To sum up: imagery is not a form of figurative language. But a writer can enhance his or her effort to write imagery through the use of figurative language.

Figurative Language Examples

Figurative language is more interesting, lively, beautiful, and memorable than language that's purely literal. Figurative language is found in all sorts of writing, from poetry to prose to speeches to song lyrics, and is also a common part of spoken speech. The examples below show a variety of different types of figures of speech. You can see many more examples of each type at their own specific LitChart entries.

Figurative Language Example: Metaphor

Metaphor in shakespeare's romeo and juliet.

In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet , Romeo uses the following metaphor in Act 2 Scene 2 of Romeo and Juliet , after sneaking into Juliet's garden and catching a glimpse of her on her balcony:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Romeo compares Juliet to the sun not only to describe how radiantly beautiful she is, but also to convey the full extent of her power over him. He's so taken with Juliet that her appearances and disappearances affect him like those of the sun. His life "revolves" around Juliet like the earth orbits the sun.

Figurative Language Example: Simile

In this example of a simile from Slaughterhouse-Five , Billy Pilgrim emerges from an underground slaughterhouse where he has been held prisoner by the Germans during the deadly World War II firebombing of Dresden:

It wasn't safe to come out of the shelter until noon the next day. When the Americans and their guards did come out, the sky was black with smoke. The sun was an angry little pinhead. Dresden was like the moon now , nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighborhood was dead.

Vonnegut uses simile to compare the bombed city of Dresden to the moon in order to capture the totality of the devastation—the city is so lifeless that it is like the barren moon.

Figurative Language Example: Oxymoron

These lines from Chapter 7 of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls describe an encounter between Robert Jordan, a young American soldier fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and his lover María.

She held herself tight to him and her lips looked for his and then found them and were against them and he felt her, fresh, new and smooth and young and lovely with the warm, scalding coolness and unbelievable to be there in the robe that was as familiar as his clothes, or his shoes, or his duty and then she said, frightenedly, “And now let us do quickly what it is we do so that the other is all gone.”

The couple's relationship becomes a bright spot for both of them in the midst of war, but ultimately also a source of pain and confusion for Jordan, as he struggles to balance his obligation to fight with his desire to live happily by Maria's side. The contradiction contained within the oxymoron "scalding coolness" emphasizes the couple's conflicting emotions and impossible situation.

Figurative Language Example: Hyperbole

Elizabeth Bennet, the most free-spirited character in Pride and Prejudice , refuses Mr. Darcy's first marriage proposal with a string of hyperbole :

From the very beginning, from the first moment I may almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your selfish disdain of the feelings of others, were such as to form that ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built so immoveable a dislike; and I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.

Elizabeth's closing statement, that Darcy is the "last man in the world" whom she would ever marry, is an obvious hyperbole. It's hard to believe that Elizabeth would rather marry, say, an axe murderer or a diseased pirate than Mr. Darcy. Even beyond the obvious exaggeration, Austen's use of hyperbole in this exchange hints at the fact that Elizabeth's feelings for Darcy are more complicated than she admits, even to herself. Austen drops various hints throughout the beginning of the novel that Elizabeth feels something beyond mere dislike for Darcy. Taken together with these hints, Elizabeth's hyperbolic statements seem designed to convince not only Darcy, but also herself, that their relationship has no future.

Figurative Language Example: Personification

In Chapter 1 of The Scarlet Letter , Nathaniel Hawthorne describes a wild rose bush that grows in front of Salem's gloomy wooden jail:

But, on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rose-bush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

In the context of the novel's setting in 17th century Boston, this rose bush, which grows wild in front of an establishment dedicated to enforcing harsh puritan values, symbolizes those elements of human nature that cannot be repressed, no matter how strict a community's moral code may be: desire, fertility, and a love of beauty. By personifying the rosebush as "offering" its blossoms to reflect Nature's pity (Nature is also personified here as having a "heart"), Hawthorne turns the passive coincidence of the rosebush's location into an image of human nature actively resisting its constraints.

Figurative Language Example: Idiom

Figurative language example: onomatopoeia.

In Act 3, Scene 3 of Shakespeare's The Tempest , Caliban uses onomatopoeia to convey the noises of the island.

Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices...

The use of onomatopoeia makes the audience feel the sounds on the island, rather than just have to take Caliban's word about there being noises.

Figurative Language Example: Synecdoche

In Act 4, Scene 3 of Shakespeare's Macbeth , an angry Macbeth kicks out a servant by saying:

Take thy face hence.

Here, "thy face" stands in for "you." Macbeth is simply telling the servant to leave, but his use of synecdoche makes the tone of his command more harsh and insulting because he uses synecdoche to treat the servant not as a person but as an object, a body part.

Figurative Language Example: Metonymy

In his song "Juicy," Notorious B.I.G. raps:

Now I'm in the limelight 'cause I rhyme tight

Here he's using "limelight" as a metonymy for fame (a "limelight" was a kind of spotlight used in old theaters, and so it came to be associated with the fame of being in the spotlight). Biggie's use of metonymy here also sets him up for a sweet rhyme.

Figurative Language Example: Alliteration

In his song "Rap God," Eminem shows his incredible lyrical dexterity by loading up the alliteration :

S o I wanna make sure, s omewhere in this chicken s cratch I S cribble and doodle enough rhymes T o maybe t ry t o help get s ome people through t ough t imes But I gotta k eep a few punchlines Just in c ase, ‘ c ause even you un s igned Rappers are hungry l ooking at me l ike it's l unchtime…

Why Do Writers Use Figurative Language?

The term figurative language refers to a whole host of different figures of speech, so it's difficult to provide a single definitive answer to why writers use figurative language. That said, writers use figurative language for a wide variety of reasons:

  • Interest and beauty: Figurative language allows writes to express descriptions, ideas, and more in ways that are unique and beautiful.
  • Complexity and power: Because figurative language can create meanings that go beyond the literal, it can capture complex ideas, feelings, descriptions, or truths that cause readers to see things in a new way, or more closely mirror the complex reality of the world.
  • Visceral affect: Because figurative language can both impact the rhythm and sound of language, and also connect the abstract (say, love) with the concrete (say, a rose), it can help language make an almost physical impact on a reader.
  • Humor: By allowing a writer to layer additional meanings over literal meanings, or even to imply intended meanings that are the opposite of the literal meaning, figurative language gives writers all sorts of options for creating humor in their writing.
  • Realism: People speak and even think in terms of the sorts of comparisons that underlie so much figurative language. Rather than being flowery, figurative language allows writers to describe things in ways that match how people really think about them, and to create characters who themselves feel real.

In general, figurative language often makes writing feel at once more accessible and powerful, more colorful, surprising, and deep.

Other Helpful Figurative Language Resources

  • The dictionary definition of figurative : Touches on figurative language, as well as some other meanings of the word.
  • Figurative and Frost : Examples of figurative language in the context of the poetry of Robert Frost.
  • Figurative YouTube : A video identifying various forms of figurative language from movies and television shows.
  • Wikipedia on literal and figurative language : A bit technical, but with a good list of examples.

The printed PDF version of the LitCharts literary term guide on Figurative Language

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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, what part of speech is the word 'the'.

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General Education


When you start breaking it down, the English language is pretty complicated—especially if you're trying to learn it from scratch! One of the most important English words to understand is the.

But what part of speech is the word the, and when should it be used in a sentence? Is the word the a preposition? Is the a pronoun? Or is the word the considered a different part of speech?

To help you learn exactly how the word the works in the English language, we're going to do the following in this article:

  • Answer the question, "What part of speech is the ?"
  • Explain how to use the correctly in sentences, with examples
  • Provide a full list of other words that are classified as the same part of speech as the in the English language

Okay, let's get started learning about the word the !


What Part of Speech Is the Word The?

In the English language the word the is classified as an article, which is a word used to define a noun. (More on that a little later.)

But an article isn't one of the eight parts of speech. Articles are considered a type of adjective, so "the" is technically an adjective as well. However, "the" can also sometimes function as an adverb in certain instances, too.

In short, the word "the" is an article that functions as both an adjective and an adverb, depending on how it's being used . Having said that, the is most commonly used as an article in the English language. So, if you were wondering, "Is the a pronoun, preposition, or conjunction," the answer is no: it's an article, adjective, and an adverb!


While we might think of an article as a story that appears in a newspaper or website, in English grammar, articles are words that help specify nouns.

The as an Article

So what are "articles" in the English language? Articles are words that identify nouns in order to demonstrate whether the noun is specific or nonspecific. Nouns (a person, place, thing, or idea) can be identified by two different types of articles in the English language: definite articles identify specific nouns, and indefinite articles identify nonspecific nouns.

The word the is considered a definite article because it defines the meaning of a noun as one particular thing . It's an article that gives a noun a definite meaning: a definite article. Generally, definite articles are used to identify nouns that the audience already knows about. Here's a few examples of how "the" works as a definite article:

We went to the rodeo on Saturday. Did you see the cowboy get trampled by the bull?

This (grisly!) sentence has three instances of "the" functioning as a definite article: the rodeo, the cowboy, and the bull. Notice that in each instance, the comes directly before the noun. That's because it's an article's job to identify nouns.

In each of these three instances, the refers to a specific (or definite) person, place, or thing. When the speaker says the rodeo, they're talking about one specific rodeo that happened at a certain place and time. The same goes for the cowboy and the bull: these are two specific people/animals that had one kinda terrible thing happen to them!

It can be a bit easier to see how definite articles work if you see them in the same sentence as an indefinite article ( a or an ). This sentence makes the difference a lot more clear:

A bat flew into the restaurant and made people panic.

Okay. This sentence has two articles in it: a and the. So what's the difference? Well, you use a when you're referring to a general, non-specific person, place, or thing because its an indefinite article . So in this case, using a tells us this isn't a specific bat. It's just a random bat from the wild that decided to go on an adventure.

Notice that in the example, the writer uses the to refer to the restaurant. That's because the event happened at a specific time and at a specific place. A bat flew into one particular restaurant to cause havoc, which is why it's referred to as the restaurant in the sentence.

The last thing to keep in mind is that the is the only definite article in the English language , and it can be used with both singular and plural nouns. This is probably one reason why people make the mistake of asking, "Is the a pronoun?" Since articles, including the, define the meaning of nouns, it seems like they could also be combined with pronouns. But that's not the case. Just remember: articles only modify nouns.


Adjectives are words that help describe nouns. Because "the" can describe whether a noun is a specific object or not, "the" is also considered an adjective.

The as an Adjective

You know now that the is classified as a definite article and that the is used to refer to a specific person, place, or thing. But defining what part of speech articles are is a little bit tricky.

There are eight parts of speech in the English language: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. The thing about these eight parts of speech in English is that they contain smaller categories of types of words and phrases in the English language. A rticles are considered a type of determiner, which is a type of adjective.

Let's break down how articles fall under the umbrella of "determiners," which fall under the umbrella of adjectives. In English, the category of "determiners" includes all words and phrases in the English language that are combined with a noun to express an aspect of what the noun is referring to. Some examples of determiners are the, a, an, this, that, my, their, many, few, several, each, and any. The is used in front of a noun to express that the noun refers to a specific thing, right? So that's why "the" can be considered a determiner.

And here's how determiners—including the article the —can be considered adjectives. Articles and other determiners are sometimes classified as adjectives because they describe the nouns that they precede. Technically, the describes the noun it precedes by communicating specificity and directness. When you say, "the duck," you're describing the noun "duck" as referring to a specific duck. This is different than saying a duck, which could mean any one duck anywhere in the world!


When "the" comes directly before a word that's not a noun, then it's operating as an adverb instead of an adjective.

The as an Adverb

Finally, we mentioned that the can also be used as an adverb, which is one of the eight main parts of speech we outlined above. Adverbs modify or describe verbs, adjectives, or other adverbs, but never modify nouns.

Sometimes, the can be used to modify adverbs or adjectives that occur in the comparative degree. Adverbs or adjectives that compare the amounts or intensity of a feeling, state of being, or action characterizing two or more things are in the comparative degree. Sometimes the appears before these adverbs or adjectives to help convey the comparison!

Here's an example where the functions as an adverb instead of an article/adjective:

Lainey believes the most outrageous things.

Okay. We know that when the is functioning as an adjective, it comes before a noun in order to clarify whether it's specific or non-specific. In this case, however, the precedes the word most, which isn't a noun—it's an adjective. And since an adverb modifies an adjective, adverb, or verb, that means the functions as an adverb in this sentence.

We know that can be a little complicated, so let's dig into another example together:

Giovanni's is the best pizza place in Montana.

The trick to figuring out whether the article the is functioning as an adjective or an adverb is pretty simple: just look at the word directly after the and figure out its part of speech. If that word is a noun, then the is functioning as an adjective. If that word isn't a noun, then the is functioning like an adverb.

Now, reread the second example. The word the comes before the word best. Is best a noun? No, it isn't. Best is an adjective, so we know that the is working like an adverb in this sentence.


How to Use The Correctly in Sentences

An important part of answering the question, "What part of speech is the word the ?" includes explaining how to use the correctly in a sentence. Articles like the are some of the most common words used in the English language. So you need to know how and when to use it! And since using the as an adverb is less common, we'll provide examples of how the can be used as an adverb as well.

Using The as an Article

In general, it is correct and appropriate to use the in front of a noun of any kind when you want to convey specificity. It's often assumed that you use the to refer to a specific person, place, or thing that the person you're speaking to will already be aware of. Oftentimes, this shared awareness of who, what, or where "the" is referring to is created by things already said in the conversation, or by context clues in a given social situation .

Let's look at an example here:

Say you're visiting a friend who just had a baby. You're sitting in the kitchen at your friend's house while your friend makes coffee. The baby, who has been peacefully dozing in a bassinet in the living room, begins crying. Your friend turns to you and asks, "Can you hold the baby while I finish doing this?"

Now, because of all of the context surrounding the social situation, you know which baby your friend is referring to when they say, the baby. There's no need for further clarification, because in this case, the gives enough direct and specific meaning to the noun baby for you to know what to do!

In many cases, using the to define a noun requires less or no awareness of an immediate social situation because people have a shared common knowledge of the noun that the is referring to. Here are two examples:

Are you going to watch the eclipse tomorrow?

Did you hear what the President said this morning?

In the first example, the speaker is referring to a natural phenomenon that most people are aware of —eclipses are cool and rare! When there's going to be an eclipse, everyone knows about it. If you started a conversation with someone by saying, "Are you going to watch the eclipse tomorrow?" it's pretty likely they'd know which eclipse the is referring to.

In the second example, if an American speaking to another American mentions what the President said, the other American is likely going to assume that the refers to the President of the United States. Conversely, if two Canadians said this to one another, they would likely assume they're talking about the Canadian prime minister!

So in many situations, using the before a noun gives that noun specific meaning in the context of a particular social situation .

Using The as an Adverb

Now let's look at an example of how "the" can be used as an adverb. Take a look at this sample sentence:

The tornado warning made it all the more likely that the game would be canceled.

Remember how we explained that the can be combined with adverbs that are making a comparison of levels or amounts of something between two entities? The example above shows how the can be combined with an adverb in such a situation. The is combined with more and likely to form an adverbial phrase.

So how do you figure this out? Well, if the words immediately after the are adverbs, then the is functioning as an adverb, too!

Here's another example of how the can be used as an adverb:

I had the worst day ever.

In this case, the is being combined with the adverb worst to compare the speaker's day to the other days . Compared to all the other days ever, this person's was the worst... period . Some other examples of adverbs that you might see the combined with include all the better, the best, the bigger, the shorter, and all the sooner.

One thing that can help clarify which adverbs the can be combined with is to check out a list of comparative and superlative adverbs and think about which ones the makes sense with!


3 Articles in the English Language

Now that we've answered the question, "What part of speech is the ?", you know that the is classified as an article. To help you gain a better understanding of what articles are and how they function in the English language, here's a handy list of 3 words in the English language that are also categorized as articles.


What's Next?

If you're looking for more grammar resources, be sure to check out our guides on every grammar rule you need to know to ace the SAT ( or the ACT )!

Learning more about English grammar can be really helpful when you're studying a foreign language, too. We highly recommend that you study a foreign language in high school—not only is it great for you, it looks great on college applications, too. If you're not sure which language to study, check out this helpful article that will make your decision a lot easier.

Speaking of applying for college... one of the most important parts of your application packet is your essay. Check out this expert guide to writing college essays that will help you get into your dream school.

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Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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Definition of speech noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

Join our community to access the latest language learning and assessment tips from Oxford University Press!

  • 3 [ uncountable ] the way in which a particular person speaks Her speech was slurred—she was clearly drunk.
  • 4 [ uncountable ] the language used when speaking This expression is used mainly in speech, not in writing. speech sounds
  • 5 [ countable ] a group of lines that an actor speaks in a play in the theater She has the longest speech in the play. see figure of speech
  • speech a formal talk given to an audience: Several people made speeches at the wedding.
  • lecture a talk given to a group of people to tell them about a particular subject, often as part of a university or college course: a lecture on the Roman army a course/series of lectures
  • address a formal speech given to an audience: a televised presidential address
  • A speech can be given on a public or private occasion; an address is always public: He gave an address at the wedding.
  • talk a fairly informal session in which someone tells a group of people about a subject: She gave an interesting talk on her visit to China.
  • sermon a talk on a moral or religious subject, usually given by a religious leader during a service: to preach a sermon
  • a long/short speech/lecture/address/talk/sermon
  • a keynote speech/lecture/address
  • to prepare/give/deliver/hear a(n) speech/lecture/address/talk/sermon
  • to write a speech/sermon
  • to attend/go to a lecture/talk

Other results

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Trump promotes Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless The USA Bible': What to know about the book and its long journey

what is speech of words

  • Former president Donald Trump encourages supporters to buy Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The USA Bible," a project inspired by Nashville country musician's hit song.
  • Resurgent version of Greenwood's Bible project a modified version from original concept, a change that likely followed 2021 shake-up in publishers.

After years with few updates about Lee Greenwood’s controversial Bible, the project is again resurgent with a recent promotion by former President Donald Trump.

“All Americans need to have a Bible in their home and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” Trump said in a video posted to social media Tuesday, encouraging supporters to purchase the “God Bless The USA Bible.” “Religion is so important and so missing, but it’s going to come back.”

Greenwood — the Nashville area country musician whose hit song “God Bless the USA” inspired the Bible with a similar namesake — has long been allies with Trump and other prominent Republicans, many of whom are featured in promotional material for the “God Bless The USA Bible.” But that reputational clout in conservative circles hasn’t necessarily translated to business success in the past, largely due to a major change in the book’s publishing plan.

Here's what to know about the Bible project’s journey so far and why it’s significant it’s back in the conservative limelight.

An unordinary Bible, a fiery debate

The “God Bless The USA Bible” received heightened attention since the outset due to its overt political features.

The text includes the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Pledge of Allegiance, and the lyrics to the chorus to Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA.” Critics saw it as a symbol of Christian nationalism, a right-wing movement that believes the U.S. was founded as a Christian nation.

A petition emerged in 2021 calling Greenwood’s Bible “a toxic mix that will exacerbate the challenges to American evangelicalism.” From there, a broader conversation ensued about the standards by which publishers print Bibles.

Gatekeeping in Bible publishing

Greenwood’s early business partner on the project, a Hermitage-based marketing firm called Elite Source Pro, initially reached a manufacturing agreement with the Nashville-based HarperCollins Christian Publishing to print the “God Bless The USA Bible.”  

As part of that agreement, HarperCollins would publish the book but not sell or endorse it. But then HarperCollins reversed course , a major setback for Greenwood’s Bible.

The reversal by HarperCollins followed a decision by Zondervan — a publishing group under HarperCollins Christian Publishing and an official North American licensor for Bibles printed in the New International Version translation — to pass on the project. HarperCollins said the decision was unrelated to the petition or other public denunciations against Greenwood’s Bible.

The full backstory: Lee Greenwood's 'God Bless the USA Bible' finds new printer after HarperCollins Christian passes

A new translation and mystery publisher

The resurgent “God Bless The USA Bible” featured in Trump’s recent ad is an altered version of the original concept, a modification that likely followed the publishing shake-up.

Greenwood’s Bible is now printed in the King James Version, a different translation from the original pitch to HarperCollins.

Perhaps the biggest mystery is the new publisher. That manufacturer is producing a limited quantity of copies, leading to a delayed four-to-six weeks for a copy to ship.  

It’s also unclear which business partners are still involved in the project. Hugh Kirkman, who led Elite Service Pro, the firm that originally partnered with Greenwood for the project, responded to a request for comment by referring media inquiries to Greenwood’s publicist.

The publicist said Elite Source Pro is not a partner on the project and the Bible has always been printed in the King James Version.

"Several years ago, the Bible was going to be printed with the NIV translation, but something happened with the then licensor and the then potential publisher. As a result, this God Bless The USA Bible has always been printed with the King James Version translation," publicist Jeremy Westby said in a statement.

Westby did not have the name of the new licensee who is manufacturing the Bible.

Trump’s plug for the “God Bless The USA Bible” recycled language the former president is using to appeal to a conservative Christian base.

“Our founding fathers did a tremendous thing when they built America on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump said in his video on social media. “Now that foundation is under attack perhaps as never before.”

'Bring back our religion’: Trump vows to support Christians during Nashville speech

Liam Adams covers religion for The Tennessean. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media @liamsadams.

what is speech of words

Google Changed Its Definition of 'Bloodbath' After Trump Used It in a Speech?

Social media users concocted a conspiracy theory to counter criticism of trump's use of the word., aleksandra wrona, published march 28, 2024.


About this rating

On March 16, 2024, former U.S. President Donald Trump said : "Now, if I don't get elected, it's going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that's gonna be the least of it. It's going to be a bloodbath for the country." His remark at a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio, sparked controversy on social media. As Snopes reported on March 17, 2024, its context suggested Trump was predicting an "economic bloodbath" for the country, not a literal one, if he loses the 2024 presidential election.

Five days later, on March 21, 2024, a rumor went viral on X (formerly Twitter), alleging that Google intentionally changed "its definition" of "bloodbath" to push an anti-Trump narrative. This claim is not only false, as we'll demonstrate below, but based on a complete ignorance of how the search engine's "dictionary boxes" work. But that didn't keep the rumor from going viral.

"HOLY S***. Google just quietly changed its search results for 'bloodbath definition'," the most viral post on the topic read, reaching over 35 million views as of this writing. The post featured a collage of two screenshots supposedly proving Google tampered with the search results for "bloodbath" between March 17, 2024, and March 21, 2024.

what is speech of words

(X user @EndWokeness)

"Definition changed from how it was 4 days ago. Changed to remove the financial example, to ensure Trump's speech can always be taken out of context. Re-writing the meaning of words in real time," one Reddit user commented . Even Elon Musk, the owner of X, went all-in on the conspiracy theory. "Google is deeply infected with the woke mind virus" Musk wrote in an X  repost  of the above-mentioned collage to his 178 million followers. 

How 'Dictionary Boxes' on Google Really Work

According to a Google Search Help article  titled "Dictionary boxes on Google," these so-called "dictionary boxes" display definitions from third-party sources. It emphasized that "Google doesn't create, write, or modify definitions" and "dictionary results don't reflect the opinions of Google" (emphasis ours):

When you search on Google, you might find dictionary boxes if our systems decide it would be useful and relevant. Dictionary boxes show definitions from third-party expert sources and might include related images, pronunciations, translations, and other information. Tip: You're likely to get a Dictionary result when you start your search with "Define" or "What's the meaning of." Where info in Dictionary boxes comes from Important: Dictionary boxes always include definitions but might not include all other features. Definitions Google doesn't create, write, or modify definitions. Dictionary results don't reflect the opinions of Google. We license definitions, which include examples, similar and opposite words, and origins, from third-party experts who compile dictionaries. Tip: At the top of a Dictionary box, you can usually find the provider of the definition.

We reached out to Google directly to ask for its response to the claim that the definitions were purposely changed. "This allegation is categorically false," a spokesperson told us. "These definitions come from dictionaries, not from Google. We don't create, write, or modify definitions, and we don't manually decide which results appear. Both of these definitions have shown up for this search and related searches in recent days. " 

This confirms what various social media users had pointed out: The viral image didn't show an individual dictionary entry that had changed; it showed definitions from two different sources, Dictionary.com website and Oxford Languages (see image below). 

what is speech of words

When we took a closer look at the viral image, we noticed the two screenshots were significantly different. The first one showed an "About featured snippets" caption, while the second one showed a "Dictionary, Definitions from Oxford Languages" legend. When we clicked on the "Oxford Languages" button, it redirected us to an Oxford Languages article, informing that "Google's English dictionary is provided by Oxford Languages."

what is speech of words

The first screenshot, allegedly captured on March 17, 2024, informed the displayed search result was a "featured snippet." A Google Search Help  article  with the title "How Google's featured snippets work" said that "Google's search results sometimes show listings where the snippet describing a page comes before a link to a page, not after as with our standard format. Results displayed this way are called 'featured snippets.'" It continued (emphasis ours):

You might find featured snippets on their own within overall search results, within the "People also ask" section, or along with Knowledge Graph information. We display featured snippets when our systems determine this format will help people more easily discover what they're seeking, both from the description about the page and when they click on the link to read the page itself. They're especially helpful for those on mobile or searching by voice. Featured snippets commonly contain one listing, but more than one may appear. How featured snippets are chosen Featured snippets come from web search listings. Google's automated systems determine whether a page would make a good featured snippet to highlight for a specific search request. Your feedback helps us improve our search algorithms and the quality of your search results.

Ultimately, Google search results are based on many factors, such as one's location or the phrasing of the query, which might cause differences in the search results over time:

To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors and signals, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources, and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query. For example, the freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.

We have fact-checked other Google-related rumors before. For instance, in June 2023, we investigated whether Google Maps was adding a feature that would allow drivers to challenge each other to a race. In January 2023, we debunked a false claim that a Google product designed to compete with Apple's AirTag and Samsung's SmartTag was named the "G-Spot."

Emery, David. "Did Trump Say It Will Be a 'Bloodbath for the Country' If He Doesn't Get Elected?" Snopes , 17 Mar. 2024, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/trump-bloodbath-for-country/.

How Google's Featured Snippets Work - Google Search Help . https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/9351707?hl=en. Accessed 22 Mar. 2024.

Learn about Dictionary Boxes on Google - Google Search Help . https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/10106608. Accessed 22 Mar. 2024.

"Ranking Results – How Google Search Works." Google Search - Discover How Google Search Works , https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/how-search-works/ranking-results/. Accessed 22 Mar. 2024.

"---." Google Search - Discover How Google Search Works , https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/how-search-works/ranking-results/. Accessed 22 Mar. 2024.

Kasprak, Alex. "Is Google Maps Adding Feature That Lets Drivers Challenge Each Other To a Race?" Snopes , 21 June 2023, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/google-maps-request-to-race-drivers/.

---. "Is Google's 'G-Spot' a Real Product?" Snopes , 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/google-g-spot/.

By Aleksandra Wrona

Aleksandra Wrona is a reporting fellow for Snopes, based in the Warsaw area.

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Vol. 42, No. 8 / April 2024

Words, words, words by Amit Majmudar

John Gilbert, The Plays of William Shakespeare , ca. 1849, Oil on canvas, Dahesh Museum of Art, New York.

Features April 2024

Words, words, words.

by Amit Majmudar

On the Bard’s four-hundred-year legacy.

A r ule of thumb in linguistics gives any language a thousand years. At that point, linguistic drift will have made the mother language nearly incomprehensible to its descendants. That drift is inexorable, a feature of language itself, in spite of the best efforts of an Académie française or a priestly caste. That average lifespan, a millennium in the sun, accounts for slower and faster rates of change. A language is “dead” when living voices cease to reshape it.

Literary language moves more slowly. Speech patterns change rapidly, eliding syllables and switching consonants. The future can speak the same language in the same place and still sound foreign to the past. The v sound of medieval Church Latin was unknown to Ovid and Virgil. A few hundred years ago, English speakers consistently pronounced the - ed at the end of verbs in the past tense as an extra syllable, like pronouncéd .

We read Shakespeare a century before the midway point of our drifting.

Clips abound on Youtube of Shakespeare recited with the original pronunciations. The texts of the plays, barnacled with clarifying notes, studded here and there with half-remembered, often-quoted bits, are more comprehensible in any case than much contemporary poetry—though this may be deceptive. A great deal has changed since the Lord Chamberlain’s Men strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage. We read Shakespeare a century before the midway point of our drifting, shifting language’s lifespan. These four-hundred-year-old plays, by this time next century, will be only half-intelligible even to the few who make time for them.

It is possible—given the way technology has quickened history, the cultural shift away from long-form reading, the screen’s preference for spectacle over dialogue, estrangement from art coded as “white” or “European,” and a measurable drop in attention spans—that Shakespeare will be even less intelligible. Some snippets and phrases may survive without attribution, almost as clichés, like “wear my heart on my sleeve” or “wild-goose chase.” His stories—which, in many cases, have their own charm—may reincarnate in new forms, as they have already done in Charles Lamb’s retellings for Victorian children, or in forgettable Hollywood popularizations like She’s the Man or Get Over It .

Yet I have always felt that the story’s not the thing. Pace Hamlet, not even the play’s the thing. Hamlet the prince, Hamlet the play, the play within the play, the Ghost, Elsinore, Denmark, the great Globe itself: language was always the thing that all those other things were made of.

A blessing, then, that we are still close enough, for now, to know and love this writer in the original English. (Translations into contemporary—read: simplified—language abound, a running crib for English-class summaries.) What is to be found in abundance here is not to be found elsewhere, in spite of the writer’s having gathered disciples in every subsequent generation.

Some have shared his feel for historical forces as manifested in individuals; Oswald Spengler pored over Shakespeare’s Histories in his last years. Others have had his predilection for the over-the-top scene, absurd on the face of it but believable in the moment; the young Victor Hugo wrote a whole manifesto exalting wild-eyed Shakespeare over buttoned-up Racine. You can find witty banter in Oscar Wilde and witty monologues in George Bernard Shaw, puckish fantasy in early verse Ibsen (like Peer Gynt ) and worldly groundedness in later prose Ibsen. Maybe Beckett has some of Shakespeare’s playfully dead-serious devotion to language, though certainly not his exuberance. Regardless of where you find one or two of his virtues, you never find them, as you do in Shakespeare himself, all in one place.

T o praise Shakespeare is also to praise his audience. Not just the one that filled the Globe during his lifetime, but the subsequent generations, too, that have cherished and preserved him, that have commented on him and imitated him. There is a whole anthology that could be assembled of the world’s great writers and critics, for four centuries straight, thinking their way through passages or plays of Shakespeare. A second anthology could assemble four centuries of writers channeling him: from Dryden’s rewrite of Antony and Cleopatra , through Melville’s runs of blank verse in Moby-Dick , to Tom Stoppard’s comedic transfiguration of two minor speaking roles from Hamlet .

That such a profound, complex, metaphorically chockablock, downright hectic writer gained fame at all is a compliment to the audience of his day. Consider how Antony describes himself: “I,” he begins,

      who with my sword

Quartered the world and o’er green Neptune’s back

With ships made cities . . .

The equator and prime meridian becoming cuts of his sword, the sea’s surface resembling the skin of the Roman sea-god’s back, that skin green so it evokes an as-yet-unsettled field, the hulls and masts of Antony’s ships resembling buildings and towers of a city that he founds there: all this in a single subordinate clause, embedded in a multi-line, enjambed verse sentence. This is one of the key paradoxes of Shakespeare: he managed to become and remain popular while writing, especially in later plays like Coriolanus , what many of us would consider “difficult” poetry.

Four hundred years might make some lines seem stranger and more difficult than they were at the time. In the twenty-fifth century, no doubt, scholars will be baffled that anyone could follow the rapid-fire allusiveness of hip-hop lyrics. But time is only one of the gulfs separating Shakespeare’s audience from us. His metaphors, unlike hip-hop’s epigrammatic rhyme-cascades, demand leap after leap of analogical and abstract thinking.

Maybe people in the past really were better at processing complicated language.

Maybe people in the past really were better at processing complicated language instantly. That is not out of the question. In our era, people are accustomed to seeing intricate images, and in motion at that. The Shakespearean stage was bare by comparison and had to be clothed with language. With less to distract their eyes, Shakespeare’s audience, educated and uneducated alike, relied more on their ears for the equivalent of “special effects.” What need for word-images or elaborate metaphors on the part of a screenwriter? What need to process them on the part of a twenty-first-century Netflix subscriber? Just as a loss of sight makes the sense of hearing acute and nuanced, visual overload may have caused our collective ear to atrophy from disuse.

Still, no viewer today can notice every last detail in a cgi rendering of Peter Jackson’s Minas Tirith, or any other onscreen world. Not all the data makes it through to the mind. Maybe Shakespeare’s “groundlings” regarded his language like that—they caught some of his (poetic) special effects at the first viewing, some more on the second.

Regardless of the explanation, his popularity reveals something wonderful about the populace that loved him. The most lingustically distinctive dramatic writers, in our era and country, are prose poets of the curt back-and-forth, like Aaron Sorkin or David Mamet. Theirs is often brilliant work, but, like Hemingway in fiction, they foreclose more possibilities than they exploit. They are always efficient, never effusive. The murderers in Macbeth trade a staccato volley of words, too. But Shakespeare never fetishized that one effect into a whole style. He possessed all the effects and chose among them as his material required.

It may be disheartening to some, then, that Shakespeare himself moved away from verbal high jinks toward the end of his career. The First Folio’s latest play, chronologically, was Henry VIII —a historical spectacle, heavy on fancy costumes. Real cannons were fired off. Shakespeare, much like the courtly masque writers of his day, dialed down the metaphors and descriptive language. The simple blank verse seems a reversion to an earlier phase of development, a change so striking that it reads like some early collaborative play from his desk drawer, lightly reworked for the occasion. Those cannons, with their mindless and brutal spondees, shouted down the poetry. Spectacle made the shoestring-budget razzle-dazzle of speech seem old-fashioned. The poet-playwright retired to Stratford-upon-Avon shortly afterward. At a later performance, those cannons made the Globe’s thatched roof catch fire; the stage of Shakespeare’s triumphs burned to the ground.

T he astonishing number of words that Shakespeare added to the language speaks to the newness and plasticity of English at that time, particularly at the desk of a poet so many-minded. The more embryologically “early” the cells, the more pluripotential they are, capable of differentiating into more than one structure and function. Words were like that, down to their spellings—Shakespeare’s contemporaries wrote his name eight different ways, not counting variants that appear only once.

Shakespeare shows a surprising similarity to contemporary American poets.

The playwrights were feeling their way through new forms and modes, too. The Earl of Surrey’s translation of the Aeneid , published in 1557, is generally considered the first example of English blank verse; Shakespeare’s formal weapon of choice was less than a decade older than Shakespeare himself. The same year saw the publication of Tottel’s Miscellany , which gave a recently introduced Italian form, the “sonnet,” wider circulation. In this respect, Shakespeare shows a surprising similarity to contemporary American poets, most of whom work in a relatively novel form, free verse, whose present shape in English would have been unrecognizable to Shakespeare and Shelley alike. Contemporary poets are also extremely likely to study each other and their immediate predecessors. The Italian novellas that gave him some of his plots were relatively recent imports, part of the Italian cultural pollination; Matteo Bandello’s story of “Romeus and Juliet” was first translated in 1562. Shakespeare used the second edition of Holinshed’s Chronicles for plays such as Macbeth and Cymbeline , and that book came out in 1587. The plays themselves owe much to a community of collaborators and rivals, most of whom knew each other personally. Shakespeare’s tragic masterpiece of 1606 turns out to be a rewrite of someone else’s 1594 play with the same characters: The True Chronicle History of King LEIR , and his three daughters, Gonorill, Ragan, and Cordella has a happy conclusion and gives us end-stopped blank-verse lines from first scene to last, though with no Fool and no Edgar subplot. Thomas Kyd bequeathed Shakespeare the template of the revenge tragedy; Christopher Marlowe demonstrated how to stage history.

Whose history? British history and the history of the classical world, two sectors that, today, interest only a small fraction of people. This is another way we are drifting away from Shakespeare. Less and less knowledge can be taken for granted. In Antony and Cleopatra , I notice, Octavian is introduced by that name only in the stage directions. Every character refers to him as “Caesar,” even Cleopatra, who elsewhere refers to her love affair with the older, recently assassinated Caesar. No distinction or clarification is made anywhere in the spoken lines, at least not in the First Folio. Theater-goers in early seventeenth-century London had to have known that Cleopatra had slept with Julius, while this Caesar, the one onstage, was the future Augustus. We are well on our way to forgetting the cultural background that made these plays watchable.

They will remain readable, though, for some time yet. The page allows plenty of time to parse the denser passages, and annotated editions can help. Yet as I learned when I ventured recently into the new facsimile reproduction of the First Folio, overseen by Adrian Edwards of the British Library and published by Rizzoli, you can still make your way through the original texts. 1

It was seven years after Shakespeare’s death, in 1623, that the strength of his oeuvre prompted the heavy investment of producing the First Folio. Complete with its author’s portrait and imported French paper, the Folio was big, pricey, deluxe, like one of today’s coffee-table books. The honor can hardly be understated: in Shakespeare’s day, no other writer of stage entertainments had ever merited such a format, which was generally reserved for the works of theologians. (Compare the fate of a playwright like Edward Albee, the publication of whose complete works began in 2004; today, a little over seven years after his death in 2016, one scarcely hears of him.) Everyone involved in the project seems to have realized they had witnessed something rare, powerful, worth preserving.

The Folio can be hard going at first, even for a lover of Shakespeare on a third reading of a play. Typographical idiosyncrasies add up—a word like “serve” is printed as ferue —and the scene divisions often lack any indication of place. Antony and Cleopatra lacks scene divisions entirely. Over time, though, the eyes accustom to the small letters, double columns, and archaic spellings. You may start to visualize the plays in a new way, especially after the location indicators have vanished. Figures flow into a spotlit emptiness, congregate briefly, eloquently, sometimes violently, then flow away. This is especially the case during battle scenes. I wonder whether the shuffle and hustle of scenery-switching might have been less disruptive back then, whether the plays were experienced with a minimum of pauses, as surge after surge of speech.

Most Shakespeareans would insist that these plays ought to be watched, that these voices ought to be embodied. Shakespeare himself might well have agreed. But reading Shakespeare offers its own insights into the theatrical illusion that is life. “These our actors,/ As I foretold you,” Prospero says, “were all spirits and/ Are melted into air, into thin air.” That “foretold” is telling: The Tempest , often thought to be Shakespeare’s valedictory play, comes first in the Folio. It opens the book and presides over the remainder of the plays. Prospero’s farewell speech, with its bittersweet feel for unreality and transience, leads into the rest of the comedies, with their happily concluded marriages.

S o much has been written about Shakespeare over the centuries that it feels redundant to praise him. This is a writer, after all, who has been compared to God the Creator and has had a religiously inflected word, bardolatry , coined to describe the devotion he inspires. I could point out the places where his praises have been hyperbolic. His supposedly panoptic understanding of human nature, for example, lacks any striking examples of murderous, theologically motivated zealots, though that sort of human being has deformed much of modern life. His gallery of characters lacks mystics, too, estranged from the world by nothing but faith. But correcting the critical hyperbole misses the point: to generation after generation, Shakespeare has given the impression of inexhaustibility.

The closest we get to an otherworldly mystic is probably Prospero, who squanders a kingdom over his study of books of sorcery. Notice the nondenominational nature of his magical fixation. It had to be that way: religion was no less contentious in Shakespeare’s day than it is now. Elizabethan agents hunted Catholic priests as they hunted foreign spies or traitors. (Some have speculated that Shakespeare himself was a Catholic, and that the “bare ruin’d choirs” of Sonnet 73 refer to the monasteries dissolved by Henry VIII .) That reticence about religion, though, didn’t just keep him out of trouble at the time. I suspect it kept him popular in a gradually secularizing Europe, too. Milton wanted to create a work that would hold, in his language, the place that Virgil’s and Homer’s held in theirs. In that bid for centrality, he settled on retelling a Bible story. It seemed the right choice at the time. He probably never imagined an England less than half Christian, as it is today.

Praise of Shakespeare is everywhere, but so is criticism. Voltaire considered Hamlet “gross and barbarous,” and Tolkien felt Shakespeare had debased the folklore of elves. In most cases, critiques of Shakespeare become inadvertently self-revelatory. George Bernard Shaw went about it as a satirical gadfly, tweaking Victorians for their reverence. Yet his last play—a puppet play, Shakes versus Shav , in which the two argue over which of them wrote better plays—suggests he may not have understood his own level relative to Shakespeare’s. As a valedictory play, it says as much about Shaw as The Tempest does about Shakespeare. King Lear ’s highest-profile critic, the elderly Tolstoy, demonstrated his own limitations as a reader as well as the hectoring, fanatical streak he increasingly exhibited in old age.

Shakespeare reveals what occupies your mind.

Positive or negative, what you say about Shakespeare reveals what occupies your mind. If you are a writer yourself, it reveals what you seek to learn from him, and how you place your work in relationship to his. If I were a dramatist, I might have focused on how efficiently he portrays characters and tells stories. A historian might have studied how he transfigured Plutarch and Holinshed—or perhaps mapped the role of the British Empire in the global spread of Shakespeare’s reputation. Instead, because I am a practicing poet, I have focused on his use of language and his audience’s reception of it—all tinged with some anxiety about his work’s becoming incomprehensible in the future. Those choices are telling; inferences about me, mostly correct ones, can be made from them. He holds the mirror up to each one of us. Maybe that comparison with God was justifiable after all. Your reflections on Shakespeare, too, are a reflection of you.

E ve ry year, Shakespeare sleeves himself into hundreds of actors around the world. They speak his words. Part of the secret of his longevity is how he welcomes the living to collaborate. He provides the scaffolding for the talents of directors, set designers, and performers. This was Homer’s secret in the classical world, too, as hundreds of rhapsodes bore his work into the countryside, and urban dramatists like Aeschylus turned “slices from Homer’s banquet” into tragic trilogies. That tradition died out in time. The Royal Shakespeare Company survives, for now, thanks to Arts Council England, a few charitable foundations, and—until social-media pressure forced them to part ways—British Petroleum. Not theatergoers.

Theatrical performance, albeit generously subsidized, is the more obvious way in which Shakespeare lives on. But he has also scripted, in ways direct and indirect, generations of writers after him. The oeuvres of major nineteenth-century English poets each hide at least one unstageable, unreadable blank-verse play. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats all had a go at the form. Byron and Tennyson produced more than one such dud. Many of Robert Browning’s dramatic monologues can be read as excerpts from unwritten Shakespeare imitations; In fair Verona, where we lay our scene explains why so many of these blank-verse monologues take place in an imaginary Italy.

I myself have heard the siren song of Shakespearean emulation. I self-published my first poetry collection when I was seventeen years old, and the latter half of the book consists of two unabashedly Shakespearean blank-verse plays, complete with monologues and a sardonic character who speaks in prose. My Shakespeare knockoffs turned out far better than anything I wrote for the next five or so years.

The Bard’s work is simply too familiar.

Emulation and modeling are a part of every poet’s development, including Shakespeare’s own; an artistic failure will seem derivative, an artistic success will seem a renewal. But Shakespeare may well be uniquely dangerous as a model. The Bard’s work is simply too familiar. Everyone can see, in embarrassing detail, exactly where, how, and by how much you fall short. This may be why Shakespeare’s more successful imitators, like Schiller and Pushkin, wrote their blank-verse plays in languages other than English. It might well be wise for beginner poets to model their styles after lesser-known or foreign talents of the past, not just the old standbys. Better to write your way out from under Ariosto or John Clare than this lionized genius taught to every high-school student in the country. Learn from less-familiar geniuses, and your emulation need not suffer from constant juxtaposition. It may even come off as original.

I know I shouldn’t track his style too closely, but sometimes—guilty pleasure—I try my hand. He rights me, shocks my heart back into rhythm, enlineages my blood. Soliloquy, ventriloquy, I feel him willing me into a poet as I speak. I love this empire English, this vampire of a tongue, not for its own sake but because he spoke it. Sometimes I write blank verse because I miss him, but it’s a strengthening exercise as well: I know the massive, motive Globe that he is can make whoever touches him a fresh Antaeus of the language. Just to move the way he moves, unsheathe his blade and roll the moonlight down it—why not write like that forever? Let him prompt me from the wings until I am no less a speaking part than any player he gave lines to, life to? If faith and art would merge with what they love, my hand is happiest when it’s his glove.

Is there such a thing as the exhilaration of influence?

Imitating Shakespeare as a teenager, though, I felt no “anxiety of influence.” Is there such a thing as the exhilaration of influence? I will never forget how empowering it felt to pay him creative homage. My voice came out louder and more confident when I tried to echo him. I got the same feeling of ecstasy—of “standing outside” myself—as I did when I discovered the act of reading itself, as a boy, spirited out of my life and into the story. I look back on my teenaged apprenticeship very fondly. Writing blank-verse five-acters under the sign of the Swan of Avon: that was how I discovered my love of writing poetry. I don’t think I have ever felt freer as a writer than when I was doing those Shakespeare impressions. The French Romantics attested to something similar. They gained access to hundreds of words that had been considered inappropriate for the stage, dozens of effects that seemed ill-suited for poetic art. Shakespeare gave the early Romantics, in several countries, permission to imagine and write exuberantly.

T ha t aspect of Shakespeare will survive, gloriously intact, through any linguistic and cultural drift. A few centuries from now, his English will be as vaguely recognizable as Chaucer’s; a few centuries after that, and Othello may well be as inscrutable in the original as Beowulf . But his example will always show us what is possible, and that is what writers at any stage of their careers can emulate. He was game to attempt anything—comedies, histories, and tragedies, as the Folio classifies them. He was game, too, to voice anyone, whether a woman dressed as a man, or a black man in love with a white woman, or a Jew among Gentiles, or a weaver with a donkey’s head, or a spirit on an island, or a king, or a fool. Yes, he was an Englishman of his century. But depending on the play, he was also a medieval Scottish porter, an ancient Roman soldier, a gentleman of Verona. We are told he acted onstage the role of the Ghost in Hamlet : the disembodied progenitor, the goad of all the action to come. Maybe that word— play —is the crucial one, in all its meanings. He never took himself too seriously. That is why puns pop up in his most intense exchanges, and why comic scenes intermingle with tragic ones. That is also why it is still impossible to pin down anything autobiographical, not even in the seemingly first-person Sonnets. He originated confessional poetry—only he wrote it from 1,223 different perspectives. He could put on a clown show at the edge of an abyss; he could make the butt of the joke say something heartbreaking enough to quench the laughter. Whatever he wrote, he deflected attention away from himself. The freest writer in all of literature, he was never limited by his identity because he was never limited to his identity. That is why reading him, and learning from him, feels like shaking free of shackles. He shows us how to find universality: become the universe.

  •   Shakespeare’s First Folio: 400th Anniversary Facsimile Edition: Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies, Published According to the Original Copies , edited by Adrian Edwards; Rizzoli, 928 pages, $135.

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what is speech of words

Amit Majmudar ’s forthcoming books include the hybrid work Three Metamorphoses (Orison Books) and a collection of literary essays called The Great Game (Acre Books).

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 42 Number 8, on page 12 Copyright © 2024 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com https://newcriterion.com/issues/2024/4/words-words-words

Books In this article

Shakespeare's First Folio

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's first folio, rizzoli, 928 pages, $135.00, popular right now, i words, words, words by amit majmudar, ii an invented grievance, iii the once beloved country by alexander chula, iv ore or ordure by bruce bawer, v the trials of edgar allan poe by james tuttleton.

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I Listened to Trump’s Rambling, Unhinged, Vituperative Georgia Rally—and So Should You

what is speech of words

By Susan B. Glasser

Former U.S. President Donald Trump gives a speech in Rome Georgia in March 2024. Trump is photographed from above and is...

I’m sure you had better things to do on Saturday evening than watch Donald Trump rant for nearly two hours to an audience of cheering fans in Rome, Georgia. His speech was rambling, unhinged, vituperative, and oh-so-revealing. In his first rally since effectively clinching the Republican Presidential nomination, Trump made what amounted to his response to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address . It’s hard to imagine a better or more pointed contrast with the vision that, two days earlier, the President had laid out for America.

And yet, like so much about Trump’s 2024 campaign, this insane oration was largely overlooked and under-covered, the flood of lies and B.S. seen as old news from a candidate whose greatest political success has been to acclimate a large swath of the population to his ever more dangerous alternate reality. No wonder Biden, trapped in a real world of real problems that defy easy solutions, is struggling to defeat him.

This is partly a category error. Though we persist in treating the 2024 election as a race between an incumbent and a challenger, it is not that so much as a contest between two incumbents: Biden, the actual President, and Trump, the forever-President of Red America’s fever dreams. But Trump, while he presents himself as the country’s rightful leader, gets nothing like the intense scrutiny for his speeches that is now focussed on the current occupant of the Oval Office. The norms and traditions that Trump is intent on smashing are, once again, benefitting him.

Consider the enormous buildup before, and wall-to-wall coverage of, Biden’s annual address to Congress. It was big news when the President called out his opponent in unusually scathing terms, referring thirteen times in his prepared text to “my predecessor” in what was, understandably, seen as a break with tradition. Republican commentators grumbled about the sharply partisan tone of the President’s remarks and the loud decibel in which he delivered them; Democrats essentially celebrated those same qualities.

Imagine if, instead, the two speeches had been covered side by side. Biden’s barbed references to Trump were all about the former President’s offenses to American democracy. He called out Trump’s 2024 campaign of “resentment, revenge, and retribution” and the “chaos” unleashed by the Trump-majority Supreme Court when it threw out the decades-old precedent of Roe v. Wade. In reference to a recent quote from the former President, in which Trump suggested that Americans should just “get over it” when it comes to gun violence, Biden retorted, “I say: Stop it, stop it, stop it!” His sharpest words for Trump came in response to the ex-President’s public invitation to Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to NATO countries that don’t spend what Trump wants them to on defense—a line that Biden condemned as “outrageous,” “dangerous,” and “unacceptable.”

Trump’s speech made little effort to draw substantive contrasts with Biden. Instead, the Washington Post counted nearly five dozen references to Biden in the course of the Georgia rally, almost all of them epithets drawn from the Trump marketing playbook for how to rip down an opponent—words like “angry,” “corrupt,” “crooked,” “flailing,” “incompetent,” “stupid,” and “weak.” Trump is, always and forever, a puerile bully, stuck perpetually on the fifth-grade playground. But the politics of personal insult has worked so well for Trump that he is, naturally, doubling down on it in 2024. In fact, one of the clips from Trump’s speech on Saturday which got the most coverage was his mockery of Biden’s stutter : a churlish—and, no doubt, premeditated—slur.

And yet there was the G.O.P. strategist Karl Rove, writing this week in the Wall Street Journal that it was Biden who had “lowered himself with shortsighted and counterproductive blows” in his State of the Union speech. Trump’s entire campaign is a study in grotesque slander, but Rove did not even mention Trump’s Georgia rally while sanctimoniously tut-tutting about Biden. And I don’t mean to single out Rove; it was hard to find any right-leaning commentators who did otherwise. This many years into the Trump phenomenon, they’ve figured out that the best way to deal with Trump’s excesses is simply to pretend they do not exist.

Hanging over both speeches was the increasingly burning question of performance, as the country is now forced to choose between two aging leaders aspiring to remain in the White House well into their eighties. Trump has arguably lowered the bar for Biden, with his constant insults aimed at the President’s age and capacity, and Biden managed to clear it, turning his State of the Union into an affirmation—for fretting Democratic partisans, at least—that he has the vigor and fight to keep going in the job.

Trump’s appearance in Georgia, by contrast, reflected a man not rooted in any kind of reality, one who struggled to remember his words and who was, by any definition, incoherent, disconnected, and frequently malicious. ( This video compilation , circulating on social media, nails it.) In one lengthy detour, he complained about Biden once being photographed on a beach in his bathing suit. Which led him to Cary Grant, which led him to Michael Jackson, which led him back to the point that even Cary Grant wouldn’t have looked good in a bathing suit at age eighty-one. In another aside, he bragged about how much “women love me,” citing as proof the “suburban housewives from North Carolina” who travel to his rallies around the country. He concluded that portion of his speech by saying:

But it was an amazing phenomenon and I do protect women. Look, they talk about suburban housewives. I believe I’m doing well—you know, the polls are all rigged. Of course lately they haven’t been rigged because I’m winning by so much, so I don’t want to say it. Disregard that statement. I love the polls very much.

Makes perfect sense, right?

It was no surprise, of course, that Trump began his speech by panning Biden’s: “the worst President in history, making the worst State of the Union speech in history,” an “angry, dark, hate-filled rant” that was “the most divisive, partisan, radical, and extreme” such address ever given. As always, what really stuns is Trump’s lack of self-awareness. Remember his “American carnage” address? Well, never mind. Get past the unintended irony, though, and what’s striking is how much of Trump’s 2024 campaign platform is being built on an edifice of lies, and not just the old, familiar lies about the “rigged election” which have figured prominently in every speech Trump has made since his defeat four years ago.

Trump’s over-the-top distortions of his record as President—“the greatest economy in history”; “the biggest tax cut in history”; “I did more for Black people than any President other than Abraham Lincoln”—are now joined by an equally flamboyant new set of untruths about Biden’s Presidency, which Trump portrayed in Saturday’s speech as a hellish time of almost fifty-per-cent inflation and an economy “collapsing into a cesspool of ruin,” with rampaging migrants being let loose from prisons around the world and allowed into the United States, on Biden’s orders, to murder and pillage and steal jobs from “native-born Americans.” Biden, in Trump’s current telling, is both a drooling incompetent being controlled by “fascists” and a corrupt criminal mastermind, “weaponizing” the U.S. government and its criminal-justice system to come after his opponent. His campaign slogan for 2024 might be summed up by one of the rally’s pithier lines: “Everything Joe Biden touches turns to shit. Everything.”

Indeed, Trump’s efforts this year to blame Biden for literally everything have taken on a baroque quality even by the modern-day standards of the party that introduced Willie Horton and Swift-boating into the political lexicon. Consider their latest cause célèbre, the tragic recent death of a young woman, Laken Riley, in which the accused is an undocumented migrant. Trump explicitly blamed Biden and his “crime-against-humanity” border policies for her death. “Laken Riley would be alive today,” he said, “if Joe Biden had not willfully and maliciously eviscerated the borders of the United States and set loose thousands and thousands of dangerous criminals into our country.” Against such treachery, Trump offers a simple, apocalyptic choice: doomsday if Biden is reëlected, or liberation from “these tyrants and villains once and for all.” Wars will be ended at the mere thought of Trump retaking power; crime will cease; arrests will be made; dissenters will be silenced.

I recognize that a speech such as the one that Trump delivered the other night is hard to distill into the essence required of a news story. His detours on Saturday included complaints about Jeff Zucker, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Martha Stewart, Megyn Kelly, “the big plagiarizer from Harvard,” Ron “DeSanctimonious,” the Washington Post , “Trump-deranged judge” Lewis Kaplan, “the fascist and racist attorney general of New York State,” “corrupt Fani Willis,” Merrick Garland, and the F.B.I., which, Trump claimed, “offers one million dollars to a writer of fiction about Donald Trump to lie and say it was fact where Hunter Biden’s laptop from hell was Russian disinformation.” What was he talking about? I don’t know. The man has so many grievances and so many enemies that it is, understandably, hard to keep them straight.

But whether or not it’s news in the conventional sense, it’s easiest to understand the threat that Trump poses to American democracy most clearly when you see it for yourself. Small clips of his craziness can be too easily dismissed as the background noise of our times. The condemnation of his critics, up to and including the current President, can sound shrill or simply partisan. The fact checks, while appalling, never stop the demagogue for whom the “bottomless Pinocchio” was invented.

On Tuesday, days after this performance, Trump and Biden each locked up their respective parties’ nominations. The general election has now begun, and Trump, as of this writing, is the favorite. In the next few months, the Biden campaign and its allies plan to spend close to a billion dollars attempting to persuade Americans not to make the historic mistake of electing Trump twice. My thought is a simpler and definitely cheaper one: watch his speeches. Share them widely. Don’t look away. ♦

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Meaning of speech in English

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speech noun ( SAY WORDS )

  • She suffers from a speech defect .
  • From her slow , deliberate speech I guessed she must be drunk .
  • Freedom of speech and freedom of thought were both denied under the dictatorship .
  • As a child , she had some speech problems .
  • We use these aids to develop speech in small children .
  • a problem shared is a problem halved idiom
  • banteringly
  • bull session
  • chew the fat idiom
  • conversation
  • conversational
  • put the world to rights idiom
  • take/lead someone on/to one side idiom
  • tête-à-tête

You can also find related words, phrases, and synonyms in the topics:

speech noun ( FORMAL TALK )

  • talk She will give a talk on keeping kids safe on the internet.
  • lecture The lecture is entitled "War and the Modern American Presidency".
  • presentation We were given a presentation of progress made to date.
  • speech You might have to make a speech when you accept the award.
  • address He took the oath of office then delivered his inaugural address.
  • oration It was to become one of the most famous orations in American history.
  • Her speech was received with cheers and a standing ovation .
  • She closed the meeting with a short speech.
  • The vicar's forgetting his lines in the middle of the speech provided some good comedy .
  • Her speech caused outrage among the gay community .
  • She concluded the speech by reminding us of our responsibility .
  • call for papers
  • extemporize
  • maiden speech
  • presentation
  • talk at someone

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Prosecutors say Trump team trying to 'rewrite indictment' in bid to dismiss Georgia election case

The judge did not make a ruling at the end of arguments in Thursday's hearing.

Attorneys for Donald Trump said that Trump's comments "calling into question" the election of 2020 were "the height of political speech," in arguments seeking the dismissal of the former president's Georgia election interference case Thursday.

Trump's lawyers were back in a Fulton County courtroom, where they argued that the election interference charges against Trump should be dismissed because his actions related to the 2020 election were "political speech advocacy that lie at the heart of the First Amendment."

Fulton County Judge Scott McAfee ended the hearing without making any rulings on the motions.

MORE: Fani Willis vows nothing 'will derail' Trump's election interference trial

"I don't think there's any question that statements, comment, speech, expressive conduct that deals with campaigning or elections has always been found to be at the zenith of protected speech," Trump attorney Sadow argued, saying that even if Trump's statements were false, they are protected as a valuable contribution to public discourse.

"The only reason it becomes unprotected in the State's opinion is because they call it false," Sadow said.

But prosecutor Donald Wakeford fired back, telling the court that the former president's speech was part of a conspiracy to commit crimes.

"It's not just that he lied over and over and over again," Wakeford said. "It is that each of those was employed as part of criminal activity with criminal intentions. "

PHOTO: Attorney Steve Sadow, representing former US President Donald Trump, speaks during a hearing on a motion to dismiss the election interference charges against Trump, at the Fulton County Courthouse on March 28, 2024, in Atlanta.

Arguing that Trump was part of a "criminal organization," Wakeford said that his speech was not protected by the First Amendment because he was using his words to commit crimes.

"It's not that the defendant has been hauled into a courtroom because the prosecution doesn't like what he said," Wakeford said. "What he is not allowed to do is employ his speech and his expression and his statements as part of a criminal conspiracy, to violate Georgia's RICO [racketeering] statute, to impersonate public officers to file false documents, and to make false statements to the government."

Wakeford also argued that Trump's motion to dismiss was premature and that it failed to form a basis to dismiss the indictment.

"What we have heard here today is an attempt to rewrite the indictment to take out the parts that are inconvenient and only say, 'Well, it's all speech ... and he was just a guy asking questions,'" Wakeford said. "All of this is an effort to get Your Honor not to look at the basic fact that this speech, this expression, all this activity is employed as part of a pattern of criminal conduct."

John Floyd, an expert on racketeering laws with the DA's office, argued that Trump's election comments could still be part of a criminal conspiracy even if they could be considered free speech.

"It doesn't matter whether that's First Amendment conduct or not ... this is a RICO conspiracy case," Floyd said. "It could be First Amendment protected conduct that also shows there's a conspiracy in operation."

Attorneys for Trump co-defendant and former Georgia Republican Party Chair David Shafer, meanwhile, asked the court to strike several phrases from the indictment, including "duly elected and qualified presidential electors," "lawful electoral votes" and "false Electoral College votes."

Shafer's attorney Craig Gillen argued that the so-called fake electors cannot be defined as "public officers."

"Just because the fact that they were nominated by their party doesn't make them a public official," Gillen said. "This particular count is flawed for the very purpose of these electors cannot be under Georgia law, public officers."

"By law, by federal law, they did not have the authority," Gillen said.

A prosecutor for the DA's office argued that "anything that purports to be someone acting by authority of the government" is a public officer.

"It doesn't even have to be a real public officer, it doesn't have to be a state officer," the prosecutor said. "Anything that purports to be someone acting by authority of the government is a public officer, and that's certainly what presidential electors do."

Gillen also sought to have the team "fake elector" removed from the indictment, saying, "They want to have ingrained in the minds of the community and of jurors a concept that if you are not Democratic elector on December the 14th ... then you are a fake elector. That is a pejorative term, not necessary for the charges, and should be stricken."

"The phrase fake elector does not exist in this indictment," a prosecutor responded.

The hearing in Fulton County, Georgia, marked the first time that the parties in the case returned to court since the failed disqualification effort against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Trump and several co-defendants in the case received permission last week to appeal that decision .

Trump himself did not attend the proceedings.

Trump and 18 others pleaded not guilty last August to all charges in a sweeping racketeering indictment for alleged efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia. Four defendants subsequently took plea deals in exchange for agreeing to testify against other defendants.

Earlier this month, Judge McAfee dismissed six of the counts against Trump and his co-defendants, for soliciting the oath of a public officer, due to a technical fault in the indictment. McAfee ordered Thursday's hearing to consider three motions from lawyers for Trump and Shafer related to the dismissal of the indictment.

In their motions, Trump's lawyers argued that the First Amendment protects the former president's conduct related to the 2020 election, and makes the indictment "categorically invalid."

"President Trump enjoys the same robust First Amendment rights as every other American," Sadow argued in a filing before the hearing. "The indictment here does not merely criminalize conduct with an incidental impact on protected speech; instead, it directly targets core protected political speech and activity."

"Every charge and overt act alleged against President Trump rests on core acts of political speech and advocacy that lie at the heart of the First Amendment," the filing said.

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Ocasio-Cortez, in House Speech, Accuses Israel of ‘Genocide’

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had called for a permanent cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, but had resisted labeling the conflict a genocide.

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A tight frame of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in front of the U.S. Capitol Building, its dome blurred in the background.

By Nicholas Fandos

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned on Friday that Israel’s blockade of Gaza had put the territory on the brink of severe famine, saying publicly for the first time that the nation’s wartime actions amounted to an “unfolding genocide.”

In a speech on the House floor, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, forcefully called on President Biden to cut off U.S. military aid to Israel unless and until it begins to allow the free flow of humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip.

“If you want to know what an unfolding genocide looks like, open your eyes,” she said. “It looks like the forced famine of 1.1 million innocents. It looks like thousands of children eating grass as their bodies consume themselves, while trucks of food are slowed and halted just miles away.”

The comments were a sharp rhetorical escalation by Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, the de facto leader of the Democratic Party’s left wing, and they illustrated the intense pressure buffeting party officials as they grapple with how to respond to Israel’s war tactics and the deepening humanitarian crisis.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, defying party leaders, has been a proponent of a permanent cease-fire since Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, and has called for putting conditions on American military aid to Israel. But she had resisted describing the ensuing war, which has killed 30,000 Gazans and left the territory in ruins, as a genocide.

Israel has firmly denied that the term applies, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez indicated in January that she was waiting for the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on a legal designation. Privately, she has expressed concerns to some allies that the highly contentious term would alienate potential supporters of a cease-fire.

Her position put Ms. Ocasio-Cortez at odds with several members of the progressive bloc she leads in the House, including Representative Cori Bush of Missouri. It also made her an unlikely target of some left-leaning activists: This month, a video went viral of protesters confronting her at a movie theater in New York City and demanding that she use the term.

Allies attributed her embrace of the term on Friday to the worsening humanitarian reality on the ground. The United Nations has warned that much of the Gaza Strip and its 2.2 million residents are now at risk of famine and has pressured Israel to let more food cross in via land.

“Honoring our alliances does not mean facilitating mass killing,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said on Friday. “We cannot hide from our responsibility any longer. Blocking assistance from one’s closest allies to starve a million people is not unintentional.”

The immediate reaction to her comments was muted, especially considering the gravity of her charge and how the congresswoman often inspires opposition on the right. The White House, which had been alerted beforehand about her speech, declined to comment, as did several staunch Democratic allies of Israel.

Mr. Biden and top Democratic leaders have insisted on Israel’s right to defend itself and have shown little appetite for curtailing military aid to the country. On the contrary, the administration is pushing for billions of dollars more in military assistance.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby that has clashed with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, said that accusing Israel of committing genocide was an “obscene perversion of the truth.”

“It is Hamas that has a genocidal goal of destroying the Jewish people, and it is Hamas that is responsible for massive casualties by using Palestinian civilians as human shields,” Marshall Wittmann, the group’s spokesman, said in a statement that did not mention Ms. Ocasio-Cortez by name.

Some antiwar activists praised the speech, but others argued that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was moving too belatedly.

“AOC is 30,000+ deaths too late to this,” Hafsa Halawa, a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, wrote on X . “You want congressional heroes, Cori Bush is where you should look.”

The speech came at a precarious moment in the war. Officials fear the situation in Gaza could grow more dire if Israel follows through with an attack on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have sought refuge.

The Biden administration has pushed Israel to forgo the attack. And after months of steadfast support for Israel, the president himself has become increasingly outspoken about the humanitarian crisis, introducing a U.N. Security Council resolution this week calling for “an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in Gaza.

The resolution failed, but progressives aligned with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez have taken Mr. Biden’s firmer stance as evidence that their tactics are working.

She sought to increase that pressure on Friday, speaking not through social media or a news interview but a traditional four-minute speech on the House floor.

The remarks came just after the House voted on a $1.2 trillion government funding bill that would temporarily cut off aid to the main U.N. agency that provides assistance to Palestinians. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was among 22 Democrats to vote against the spending plan.

She began her remarks by invoking Mr. Biden’s own words from a 2011 speech when he was vice president, calling him “a decent man.” Mr. Biden said then that stopping genocides was “an achievable goal” while lamenting that too often real action came “too late, after the best and least costly opportunities to prevent them have been missed.”

Echoing those words, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the United States risked repeating past mistakes. She said relatively little about Israel’s bombing campaign or ground invasions, but referred specifically to a Biden administration plan to put a temporary floating pier off Gaza’s coastline to ease the transit of goods, warning it would be “too late” to stave off the worst.

“The time is now to force compliance with U.S. law and the standards of humanity,” she said, calling for the administration to “suspend the transfer of U.S. weapons to the Israeli government in order to stop and prevent further atrocity.”

“This is not just about Israel or Gaza,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez added. “This is about us.”

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

Nicholas Fandos is a Times reporter covering New York politics and government. More about Nicholas Fandos

Our Coverage of the Israel-Hamas War

News and Analysis

Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to call for early elections to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . Many of them believe he has put his political survival  ahead of the broader interests of the Israeli people.

Israeli soldiers withdrew from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City  after a two-week raid in which they killed around 200 Palestinians and arrested hundreds of others, the Israeli military said.

Netanyahu’s cabinet is divided about whether ultra-Orthodox Jews should retain their longstanding exemption from military service .

Internal Roil at TikTok: TikTok has been dogged for months by accusations that its app has shown a disproportionate amount of pro-Palestinian and antisemitic content to users. Some of the same tensions  have also played out inside the company.

Palestinian Detainees: Israel has imprisoned more than 9,000 Palestinians suspected of militant activity . Rights groups say that some have been abused or held without charges.

A Hostage’s Account: Amit Soussana, an Israeli lawyer, is the first former hostage to speak publicly about being sexually assaulted  during captivity in Gaza.

A Power Vacuum: Since the start of the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has done little to address the power vacuum that would appear after Israeli forces leave Gaza. The risks of inaction are already apparent in Gaza City .

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Kate Middleton 'Wrote Every Word Herself' in Speech Revealing Her Cancer Diagnosis, Source Says

The Princess of Wales shared her health news in a video released on Friday

what is speech of words

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Kate Middleton 's announcement revealing her cancer diagnosis came from the heart.

“She wrote every word herself,” a palace source confirms to PEOPLE of the Princess of Wales' video speech, which was released on Friday and filmed two days prior in the gardens of Windsor Castle.

A family friend adds, “She wrote the words herself, delivered it personally and wanted to decide when the time was right to hit the world with this news.”

On Friday, Kate, 42, shared her cancer diagnosis in an emotional video message . She said she received the diagnosis following her abdominal surgery in January after post-operative tests "found cancer had been present” and is now in the “early stages” of treatment.

Prince William is said to be “extremely proud of his wife for the courage and strength she has shown not just this week, but since her surgery in January," a royal source says.

The insider added that William, 41, is protective of his family, stating, “Now more than ever he’s focused on ensuring his wife has the privacy she needs to fully recover and that his children are shielded from the understandable interest in the news that has been shared.”

On Saturday, the Prince and Princess of Wales said they were grateful for the wide support they’ve received following the princess’ cancer diagnosis announcement.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said in a statement that Kate and William "are both enormously touched by the kind messages from people here in the U.K., across the Commonwealth and around the world in response to Her Royal Highness’ message."

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

"They are extremely moved by the public’s warmth and support and are grateful for the understanding of their request for privacy at this time," the spokesperson added.

In her speech on Friday, Kate began by thanking well-wishers for their support over recent weeks.

She then called her diagnosis a "huge shock" and said that she and William "have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family," referring to their three children: Prince George , 10, Princess Charlotte , 8, and Prince Louis , 5.

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage?  Sign up for our free Royals newsletter  to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more! Princess Kate added that "it's taken us time to explain everything" to their kids "in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be okay."

The royal concluded her speech by acknowledging those also dealing with cancer. "At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone." she said.

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Meta ban on Arabic word used to praise violence limits free speech, Oversight Board says

what is speech of words

The independent board that oversees content moderation of Facebook owner Meta is urging the company to loosen restrictions on “shaheed,” arguing the blanket ban on the Arabic word which has been used to praise acts of violence has led to widespread censorship of millions of users from Arabic-speaking and Muslim communities. 

Under its current policy, Meta removes “shaheed” when it's used in reference to people it classifies as dangerous.

That “blunt method” is "overbroad and disproportionately restricts freedom of expression and civic discourse,” by disregarding the word’s linguistic complexity and its many uses, and treating it instead as the equivalent of the English word ‘martyr,’” said Oversight Board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

The result is the removal of content that does not praise terrorism or violence, the board said in its decision.

What's more, Meta’s policies that prohibit incitement to violence and support of designated terrorists and terrorist organizations, when properly enforced, already address the dangers posed by terrorist activity on the company's platforms, the board said.

Meta should only take down Facebook, Instagram and Thread posts containing “shaheed” when use of the word is tied to clear-cut signs of violence – such as imagery of weapons, a statement of intent or advocacy to take up arms or a reference to an attack – or when a post breaks other rules such as expressing approval of or glorifying a known terrorist, the board recommended.

Meta told USA TODAY that it would review the feedback and respond within 60 days.

Meta asked Oversight Board to weigh in on 'shaheed' policy

The Muslim and Arabic communities had called on Meta to lift the "shaheed" ban. Jewish and Israeli groups warned that changing the policy would increase antisemitic content on Meta's platforms.

In 2020, Meta conducted an internal review of its ban on “shaheed” when referring to individuals it has designated as dangerous, such as terrorist individuals or organizations, but did not reach a consensus.

Noting that "shaheed" is the most commonly removed word or phrase on Meta's platforms under the company's moderation rules, the social media giant asked the Oversight Board to weigh in more than a year ago. The panel is a diverse group of professors, lawyers, human rights activists and others from around the world that Meta taps for guidance on thorny policy questions.

"We want people to be able to use our platforms to share their views, and we have a set of policies to help them do so safely," Meta said in a statement to USA TODAY. "We aim to apply these policies fairly but doing so at scale brings global challenges, which is why in February 2023 we sought the Oversight Board's guidance on how we treat the word ‘shaheed’ when referring to designated individuals or organizations."

The controversy came into sharper focus following the Hamas attack against Israel on Oct. 7 during which an estimated 1,400 people were killed or taken hostage and during Israel’s subsequent months-long assault on Gaza that has killed 32,000, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The Oversight Board said it was finalizing its opinion on "shaheed" when Hamas attacked Israel, so it extended its research to observe use of the word during the Gaza conflict, but that additional research did not change the board's thinking.

What does shaheed mean?

The literal meaning of the Arabic word “shaheed” is “witness” and, while it roughly translates to “martyr” in English and is commonly used to praise those who die while committing violent acts, it has numerous meanings in Arabic and its interpretation largely depends on the context in which it is used. 

"Anyone killed unjustly, or anyone that died on their way to their studies, as well as those who have died for their homeland, are just a few of the circumstances that qualify someone to be referred to as Shaheed. The term is used in many circumstances, but the vast majority of those referred to as Shaheed are civilians," Nadim Nashif, founder and general director of 7amleh − The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media − said in a statement. "Meta needs to have a more contextualized and nuanced approach to this aspect of Arab and Islamic culture."

That approach is needed as people grieve the death toll in Gaza, Nashif said.

"As the largest social media company in the world, which generates billions of dollars in profits annually, Meta has the responsibility to have a more contextualized approach to moderating sensitive terms for the Arab world, as well as for all peoples," he said.

The Oversight Board agreed. Thorning-Schmidt said the current policy unfairly limits “people’s ability to debate and condemn the violence they see around them” and stops legitimate use of the word such as news reporting and discussion about victims of terrorism and other types of violence.

“It can even lead to those speaking about deceased loved ones having their content taken down in error,” Thorning-Schmidt said in a statement. 

Critics warn 'shaheed' shift could flood Facebook and Instagram with antisemitic posts

Pro-Palestinian groups have long complained they are unfairly targeted by Meta content moderation. Jewish and Israeli groups have voiced their own concerns that Meta's policies and enforcement have failed to stem the flood of antisemitic content on its platforms. Those tensions have only intensified during the Gaza conflict.

“Even with these policies on the books, we have seen an explosion in calls to terror against Jews and Israelis following Oct. 7,” Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor, founder and executive director of CyberWell, an Israeli nonprofit organization that tracks online antisemitism, told USA TODAY. “These calls to terror and violence will be normalized and, more importantly, more people will be exposed to them, possibly leading to additional violence at a time there is already a lot of violence and targeted antisemitic attacks.”

CyberWell said its researchers flagged 300 pieces of content on Facebook that contained the word “shaheed” and praise for violent acts. It recommended that Meta flag content that mentions “shaheed” and “Jews” and that it increase oversight of variations of the word to identify and remove potentially violent content.

The policy shift the Oversight Board is recommending would unleash even more hate speech and violent threats on Meta’s platforms, according to Montemayor.

“Post Oct. 7, there seems to be an online trend of glorifying of terrorism happening on social media platforms and it should be concerning to all of us,” she said. “Terror groups and radical ideologies are actively leveraging the vulnerabilities of social media platforms and it’s the responsibility of the platforms to recognize that and have policies and content moderation practices to meet those challenges and not pretend like it’s not happening. It’s happening very clearly.”


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  1. What Is Speech? What Is Language?

    Speech is how we say sounds and words. Speech includes: How we make speech sounds using the mouth, lips, and tongue. For example, we need to be able to say the "r" sound to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit.". How we use our vocal folds and breath to make sounds. Our voice can be loud or soft or high- or low-pitched.

  2. Speech

    Speech is a human vocal communication using language. Each language uses phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words (that is, all English words sound different from all French words, even if they are the same word, e.g., "role" or "hotel"), ...

  3. Speech (Linguistics) Definition and Examples

    In linguistics, speech is a system of communication that uses spoken words (or sound symbols ). The study of speech sounds (or spoken language) is the branch of linguistics known as phonetics. The study of sound changes in a language is phonology. For a discussion of speeches in rhetoric and oratory, see Speech (Rhetoric) .

  4. Speech Definition & Meaning

    speech: [noun] the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words. exchange of spoken words : conversation.

  5. Age-Appropriate Speech and Language Milestones

    Uses 2-word phrases. 2 to 3 years. Knows some spatial concepts, such as "in" or "on" Knows pronouns, such as "you," "me" or "her" Knows descriptive words, such as "big" or "happy" Uses 3-word sentences. Speech is becoming more accurate, but may still leave off ending sounds. Strangers may not be able to understand much of what is said.

  6. Speech

    Speech is the faculty of producing articulated sounds, which, when blended together, form language. Human speech is served by a bellows-like respiratory activator, which furnishes the driving energy in the form of an airstream; a phonating sound generator in the larynx (low in the throat) to transform the energy; a sound-molding resonator in ...

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    A part of speech (also called a word class) is a category that describes the role a word plays in a sentence.Understanding the different parts of speech can help you analyze how words function in a sentence and improve your writing. The parts of speech are classified differently in different grammars, but most traditional grammars list eight parts of speech in English: nouns, pronouns, verbs ...


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    In the English language, it's commonly accepted that there are 8 parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, conjunctions, interjections, and prepositions. Each of these categories plays a different role in communicating meaning in the English language. Each of the eight parts of speech—which we might also call the "main ...

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    speech: 1 n (language) communication by word of mouth "his speech was garbled" Synonyms: language , oral communication , speech communication , spoken communication , spoken language , voice communication Examples: Strategic Arms Limitation Talks negotiations between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics opened in 1969 ...

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    Speech definition: the faculty or power of speaking; oral communication; ability to express one's thoughts and emotions by speech sounds and gesture. See examples of SPEECH used in a sentence.

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    The parts of speech refer to categories to which a word belongs. In English, there are eight of them : verbs , nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Many English words fall into more than one part of speech category. Take the word light as an example. It can function as a verb, noun, or adjective.

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    Figurative language refers to language that contains figures of speech, while figures of speech are the particular techniques. If figurative speech is like a dance routine, figures of speech are like the various moves that make up the routine. It's a common misconception that imagery, or vivid descriptive language, is a kind of figurative language.

  15. speech noun

    Synonyms speech speech lecture address talk sermon These are all words for a talk given to an audience. speech a formal talk given to an audience:. Several people made speeches at the wedding. lecture a talk given to a group of people to tell them about a particular subject, often as part of a university or college course:. a lecture on the Roman army

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    How does this speech timer work. To begin, delete the sample text and either type in your speech or copy and paste it into the editor. The average reading speed and speech rate is 200 words per minute and is the default setting above. Once you paste your speech, click "Play" and Speechify will analyze your speech by the number of words and ...

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    4 [uncountable] the language used when speaking This expression is used mainly in speech, not in writing. speech sounds; 5 [countable] a group of lines that an actor speaks in a play in the theater She has the longest speech in the play. see figure of speech; Thesaurus speech. lecture; address; talk; sermon; These are all words for a talk given ...

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