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The Speech Situation is a term worn with age in the teaching of public speaking in America. That it is comprised of occasion, speaker, and topic is a gross oversimplification. It also includes challenge, anxiety, emotion, fear, responsibility, faults of memory, and instants of pride. Out of the circumstances arise an increase in heart rate, a change in blood pressure, an abnormal pattern of breathing, a noticeable build up in perspiration, and an ongoing evaluation. For students this may be merely a grade or perhaps a series of evaluative remarks, possibly addressed both to the speaker and the other participants, the audience. It may entail a replaying of a record of the speech, indeed a videotape. Most important is the lasting impression that remains with all of the participants. What of the vocabulary of the speaker under the circumstances of the speech situation? This speaker - in the major portions of this work we may say, "this young man" - has spent time seeking an appropriate topic. He has outlined a composition around a central idea or thesis. He has marshaled evidence, details. He has framed an opening paragraph. He has been admonished not to give an essay, but to strive for audience contact, interpersonal communication. He makes his audible approach through his vocabulary and accompanying phonology. Under the tension, the speaker repeats; he adds meaningless vocalizations in periods that might logically be pauses. There are slips of the tongue. At worst, failing, he withdraws to await another day.

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