Saturday, December 15, 2007

How Many Words Does It Take?

bored listeners

In my constant struggle against verbosity (along with several other similar struggles), I am helped by there words collected by Leroy Lawson, one of my predecessors at my current church assignment:

Words are like leaves; and where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found. --Alexander Pope

Thomas Hardy observed that Henry James had developed a "ponderously warm manner of saying nothing in infinite sentences."

Chief Kilchie: "I must think more on this. Otherwise my words will have no mind behind them, and be like rattling stones.'

Lincoln responded to a vitriolic critic: "He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met."

Disraeli's description of Gladstone in 1878: "a sophisticated rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity."

  • Lord's Prayer-56 words
  • Lincoln's Gettysburg address-268 words
  • Declaration of Independence-1322 words
  • U.S. Government's regulation on the sale of cabbages -26,911

Fred Smith, early in his speaking career, found his speeches getting heavier, crowds becoming smaller. In Indiana he saw a farmer plowing with a single mule & fifty chickens were following him. He thought, "The chickens will always follow the fellow whose plowing up the worms. I realized then I had to feed people not only what I thought would feed them, but what they are really hungry for."

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