How to talk

This entry is part 24 of 39 in the series Manual


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Unless you’re in an opera, stop singing. There’s music in speech, true, but it comes from the ground rather than the sky.

Do not attempt to say everything at once. Take advantage of the fourth dimension: time.

Do worry syntax not about, out figure will it they.

Words are like moss: plants without roots that rely on each other for support.

Never think before you speak. That’s tantamount to speaking before you speak—rehearsing everything before an invariably appreciative audience of one.

To start a conversation, it’s not necessary to have something to say. Find someone who looks as if they have nothing to say and ask them about themselves.

True conversation requires listening. A basic audio surveillance bug can be purchased on Amazon for as little as $28.50.

When learning a new language, the second thing to master is the way pauses are filled, the way they say um and ah. Master the shapes and rhythms of the inarticulate and meaning will take care of itself.

The first thing to learn, of course, is how to curse, and the body language that goes along with that.

Only when you understand how to say what can’t be unsaid will the everyday rituals of giving and receiving, welcoming and taking leave, apologizing and expressing condolence begin to make sense.

To speak is to fabricate. This is why so often sociopaths are such charming speakers.

The god of silence, Harpocrates, never wore clothes.

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