Jed Cohen

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The Benefits of Diction

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Diction is done with the tip of the tongue and the teeth.

I spent a lot of time in the theater while I was in high school.  Not on the stage, but behind (and above) it.  Building sets, stringing together light cues, and managing the cast and crew.  As part of the last one, I sat in on every aspect of rehearsals, including vocal warmups – which is where the phrase above is from.

But diction is not just how we say what we say; it is also what we say.  Because word choice can be just as important as tone, or facial expression, or posture when conveying meaning.

Consider the health insurance reform debate in the United States.  I do not wish to get into the politics of the situation; instead let’s just focus on the fact that health insurance, when provided by an employer, is considered a benefit.  But is health insurance really something that provides an advantage?  I would argue that the answer is no given the cost of modern health care.  Instead, it is a necessity.  And I can not help but wonder whether or not health care reform would be so controversial if we all viewed it that way.

I do not want to suggest that by altering one word we can completely reframe the way people view this issue.  But maybe by using the right words in the right place we can change the way we view the problem.  And that can often lead to solutions we’d never have considered before.

Written by Jed

October 16th, 2009 at 10:21 am