One way to analyze writing strategies is to look at the texts of successful speeches. Over the years, I even have X-rayed the Gettysburg Address, “I Have a Dream,” and the oratory of each Barack and Michelle Obama. I note, for instance, that the former First Lady as soon as reminded her audience that “I stay in a residence that changed into built through slaves.” In describing the White House in this way, she located the emphatic phrase — “slaves” — at the stop, where it had its best effect.
If a speechwriter had written for her: “Slaves constructed the residence I live in,” Michelle Obama could have been within her rights to hire every other.
Oral expression of language precedes the written word by means of, oh, a gazillion years. And let’s take into account that the phrase “rhetoric,” which can observe to many kinds of expression, once emphasized the spoken word — the usage of public language by, say, Roman Senators, for the motive of persuasion.
In fact, the technique of emphatic word order utilized by Michelle Obama — and Lincoln and MLK Jr. — is advocated by means of the Roman educator and rhetorician Quintilian extra than 2,000 years in the past.
Which brings us to sixteen-12 months-vintage Greta Thunberg, the Swedish environmental activist who these days delivered a short speech — approximately 500 phrases — to the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City.
I am in no position to decide her scientific evidence. I assume the truth-checkers were on her trail, with no principal corrections insight. Critics at the proper have argued she is a pawn of the left and could not have written any such speech. At least one has gone thus far as to disqualify her because she has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Before we get to the speech itself, I would love to debunk the perception that no teen could have written this sort of textual content. It should be, the principle is going, the work of, dare I say it, AN ADULT. She is not anything greater than a ventriloquist’s dummy, speaking English in a foreign accessory. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that someone else wrote the speech, or helped her write it. If that is a disqualification, then every flesh presser who has mouthed the words of a smart speechwriter deserves to be un-tongued.
I actually have taught writers at all stages, together with simple, middle and high school college students. The paintings of the first-rate of these have been wonderful, worth of e-book. In Haslam’s Book Store here in St. Petersburg, Florida, I stumbled upon a used anthology called “The Best Teen Writing of 2015.” Inside I found the work of winners of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. The paintings cover numerous not unusual genres. Here is a number of the fine nonfiction:
Catherine Gao, 16, San Jose, California:
“A week ago, I sat on a BART automobile in uncomfortable silence for forty-five minutes. Thirty other strangers sat around me, each diligently doing the exact equal factor: nothing. Half stared vacantly on the walls of the automobile, stopping each short time to look down at their telephones. The other 1/2 snored lightly with their faces smashed in opposition to the home windows. I closed my eyes and tried to disappear into my seat.”
Maya Lew, sixteen, New Haven, Connecticut:
“The tornado left everything broken but the toolshed. The townspeople plucked slugs off the side-panels for days, later on, vintage timber peeling like rotten bananas. River water ripped beyond the edges of the movement, they fixed torn seams with dust and rocks (double knots, triple knots), pipes from damaged under sinks. The sunflowers floated, facedown, river trout half of-way to belly-up.”
Jack Tien-Dana, sixteen, Bronx, New York:
“The subsequent day, the health facility transferred my mom to a New York clinic. My father rode along with her in the ambulance, at the same time as my aunt, a semi-well-known style editor, and full-fledged diva, drove me domestic with my uncle and cousin. We were at the Westside Highway while she rear-ended a cab. I become holding a complete canister of cheese puffs, which jounced in the air and landed all over me. She flew out of the automobile to excoriate the cabbie (note: she rear-ended him) and, for the duration of a lull inside the resulting fracas, she stuck her head in my window and hissed at a cheese-dusted me, ‘Don’t tell your mother this passed off.’”
I actually have chosen 3 youngster writers who had been 16 years vintage, the identical age as Greta Thunberg. I don’t know their backstory, however, my bet is that they have had adults in their lives who endorsed them, from an early age, to perform the three essential behaviors that mark a literate individual: to examine critically, write purposefully and communicate approximately how meaning is created via reading and writing.
Greta Thunberg truly has the same items, magnified by means of her capacity as a young person to speak to large businesses of adults when the stakes are very excessive. Let’s stipulate that a speech at the United Nations is a step up from nailing that college admissions essay.
So allow’s see how she did, and what she did. (My commentary seems in parenthesis.)
Transcript: Climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, addressed the U.N.’s Climate Action Summit in New York City on Monday.
My message is that we’ll be looking at you.
(In syntax we talk approximately the “variety” and “person” of pronouns. Each designation contributes to the voice of the speaker. In eight words, we get three of them. “My” indicates first individual singular, showing that the writer seizes ownership of these thoughts. “We” is first-man or woman plural, used collectively as in the language of hard work union messages, however also “We the humans.” She isn’t always on my own. Her remaining word is the second-person plural “you.” In most instances, this creates the illusion of discourse, the “I” and the “Thou.” But as the object of the verb “looking” it feels extra ominous here. It’s no longer Big Brother who is looking. But Little Sister.)
This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I have to be lower back in college on the opposite aspect of the sea. Yet you all come to us younger human beings for desire. How dare you!
(Short sentences have the sensation of gospel truth. Here we get a chain of them. She will now not allow her target market off the hook with an extended flowing sentence. Each length is like a hammer pounded at the podium. The target audience can’t see the exclamation mark on the quit of this paragraph, but they can hear it. I discovered “How dare you!” uncomfortable to read and hear. I diagnosed, guiltily, with the failed grownups in the audience. Her language is that of an angry determine or a stern faculty instructor scolding an infant. That inversion of expectation defines her voice.)
You have stolen my goals and my adolescence with your empty words. And but I’m one of the fortunate ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are inside the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can speak about is money and fairy testimonies of everlasting monetary increase. How dare you!
(Repetition — rather than redundancy — is practical, and a few of the most commonplace rhetorical tools available for the audio system. “That a central authority of the humans, through humans, and for human beings.” “Free at ultimate, loose at ultimate, thank God Almighty, we’re free at final.” Greta Thunberg stabs us with any other “How dare you.” Notice some other method: Quintilian warned speakers now not to allow their best phrases and phrases to get lost inside the center of sentences and paragraphs. When you may, placed them on the quit. Notice: empty words, fortunate ones, struggling, dying, collapsing, fairy stories of everlasting financial growth.)
For extra than 30 years, technology has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here pronouncing which you’re doing enough when the politics and answers wished are nevertheless nowhere in sight.
You say you pay attention to us and which you apprehend the urgency. But regardless of how unhappy and indignant I am, I do now not want to accept as true with that. Because if you really understood the situation and nonetheless saved on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to accept as true with.
(Notice a historical rhetorical technique at work here. I don’t have a call for it. But we all use it in our personal and professional lives. I might name it “pronouncing it by pronouncing you aren’t saying it.” As in, “Now I am not pronouncing that professional athletes don’t deserve the money they make.” Well, yes I am. Remember Antony in Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’ve come to bury Caesar, now not to praise him.” Yeah, proper! Here the writer says, “… then you might be evil.” Then she takes it again, “And that I refuse to trust.” She offers the edge, and takes it back, because who’s inclined to accept as true with someone who calls them evil?)
The popular idea of cutting our emissions in 1/2 in 10 years most effective offers us a 50% risk of staying below 1. Five stages (Celsius), and the chance of placing off irreversible chain reactions past human control.
Fifty percentage can be applicable to you. But the one’s numbers do no longer consist of tipping points, most remarks loops, additional warming hidden by poisonous air pollutants or the aspects of fairness and climate justice. They also rely on my technology sucking loads of billions of lots of your CO2 out of the air with technology that barely exists.
So a 50% hazard is honestly not ideal to us — we who have to stay with the outcomes.
To have a 67% chance of staying underneath a 1.Five degrees global temperature upward push — the fine odds given by the (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) — the arena had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit lower back on January 1st, 2018. Today that discerns is already all the way down to less than 350 gigatons.
How dare you faux that this could be solved with the simply “commercial enterprise as ordinary” and a few technical solutions? With today’s emissions ranges, the remained CO2 price range will be absolutely long gone within much less than 8 ½ years.
(Some humans with Asperger’s are known to have advanced spatial reasoning capabilities, making them excellent at things like math, structure, and tune. This played out in the novel and theater play “The Curious Incident of the Dog inside the Nighttime.” So it’d not wonder me if the technical evidence here is correct, something that might be mastered by way of a teen. I trust it, now not because of any know-how I deliver to the reading, but as it has the ring of reality, and I anticipate it might be vetted by way of professionals. Let me stipulate, though, that whilst numbers can be used efficiently in a speech [“Four score and seven years ago …”] they are nice used sparingly. I remember the fact that the Good Samaritan, in the parable of Jesus, gave the innkeeper “ denarii” — silver cash, a day’s salary — to take care of the fallen guy.)
There will not be any answers or plans provided consistent with those figures here today, because those numbers are too uncomfortable. And you’re nonetheless now not mature sufficient to inform it like it’s miles.
(Wow. We are lower back to being scolded by way of a child, using the inversion that we aren’t mature sufficiently. I wish she doesn’t ground me.)
You are failing us. But the young human beings are starting to apprehend your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And in case you pick to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.
(As with different powerful speeches, it opens strong, looks after enterprise in the center, and closes with the finest wish, or here, the strongest indictment. Look on the language: failing us, betrayal, never forgive you.)
We will no longer permit you to escape with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the road. The international is waking up. And alternate is coming, whether or not you like it or now not.