The product and medium of verbal communication. The process of speech generation is handled by well defined brain structures, in Broca's area; however the product, and interpretation of the results of speaking are anything but defined. Linguists carry on bravely into the breech.

KANJI: GO GYO kata (speech, tell, language, talk, word)

ASCII Art Representation:

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Character Etymology:

The radical on the left if the radical meaning words. In an older version of this character, the radical at left used to be two reels (see five) which expressed the idea of, being equal or, being well matched; this connotation eventually led to this characters use as the first person pronoun as, one who is a preson just like anyone else.

However before the first person pronoun meaning was adopted this character originally meant to match someone verbally, i.e. in an argument or similar, but it later came to mean to speak well and then just speech/talk/tell in general.

A Listing of All On-Yomi and Kun-Yomi Readings:

on-yomi: GO GYO
kun-yomi: kata(ru) kata(rau)

English Definitions:

  1. GO: word, speech, language, term.
  2. GYO, kata(ru): talk, tell, narrate, recite.
  3. kata(rau): talk, chat; pledge one's troth; invite, entive; win; consipre with.
  4. kata(rai): talk, chat; lover's vow.
  5. kata(ri): narrative (in the noh); reciter.
  6. -go: (technical) term; language.

Character Index Numbers:

New Nelson: 5628
Henshall: 112

Unicode Encoded Version:

Unicode Encoded Compound Examples:

語り (kata(ri)te):
(gogaku): the study of language, languistics.
(nihongo): Japanese language.
(chuugokugo): Chinese language.


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Thank-you, chair.

Ladies and gentlemen:

At this very moment, all around the world, people are sitting in lightless conference rooms, seminar rooms, press centers, and parliament chambers listening to other people speak. Those who are speaking are mostly only speaking because they expect someone to be listening, and most of their listeners are only listening because someone is expected to speak. In other words: someone speaks, although they have nothing to say, while others listen, although there is nothing that they want to hear.

Just like us, here, and now.

Imagine alien visitors landing on this Earth and trying to explain this apparently pointless behaviour. Would they be able to find any comparable, less pointless phenomena? Or if not less pointless, at least pointless in a different way?


In churches and at musical and theatrical performances you may also find assemblies of people sitting attentively and quietly while a small group of people or one individual presents something. In the one case people are apt to complain if something unexpected is claimed, in the other case they complain if everything is predictable. But when they have to listen to a speech, they generally do not complain at all. So the listeners to a speech apparently expect neither the solace of Faith nor the distraction of entertainment.

A similar situation is also found in schools, but here the objective is to be furthered of having the listeners learn something. Experience shows that this often does not happen. Perhaps this might explain the normal response to speeches: people are not interested, they do not learn anything, but after over a decade in the educational system they do not find this disturbing, but rather experience it as a regression to a familiar but unfortunately past situation in which they are able, free of responsibilities, to follow their own thoughts or to enjoy the lack of them.


But what does the speaker gain from enabling their non-listeners this inner return to a simpler age? Although they can safely presume that no-one will be truly interested in whatever it is that they are bringing forth, they can nonetheless be certain that every slip of the tongue, every infelicitous turn of phrase, every slight error of fact will be mercilessly registered, analysed, and ridiculed. Nothing is apter to awaken the the critical faculties of a contentedly drifting and somnolent public than the wrongly pronounced name of an obscure Pacific island republic, or an error in the fourth decimal digit of the chewing-gum exports of a world-famous American confectionery producer. The speaker has nothing to gain – should they truly have a message then it is only a matter of time before they are committed – and everything to lose. It is likely only the repressed desire to exercise some day the power of their earlier oppressor, the teacher, that keeps the speaker upright and exposed while they flaunt their lack of knowledge of their subject and their dearth of rhetorical gifts. Or possibly a misplaced feeling of duty, which convinces them that they should not disappoint the supposed expectations of their supposed audience.

For Freud these two last possibilities would be one: the voice of duty is that of the superego, which in its turn is the internalised voice of earlier figures of authority, above all of the father. What a liberation it would be if that voice would finally fall silent!


There will now be a 10-minute coffee-break, after which Dr. Smith will be making his presentation on 'Cultural Inertia in Melanesia: Lessons for the Sovereign Debt Crisis.'

Speech (?), n. [OE. speche, AS. spc, spr, fr. specan, sprecan, to speak; akin to D. spraak speech, OHG. sprahha, G. sprache, Sw. sprk, Dan. sprog. See Speak.]


The faculty of uttering articulate sounds or words; the faculty of expressing thoughts by words or articulate sounds; the power of speaking.

There is none comparable to the variety of instructive expressions by speech, wherewith man alone is endowed for the communication of his thoughts. Holder.


he act of speaking; that which is spoken; words, as expressing ideas; language; conversation.

Speech is voice modulated by the throat, tongue, lips, etc., the modulation being accomplished by changing the form of the cavity of the mouth and nose through the action of muscles which move their walls.

O goode God! how gentle and how kind Ye seemed by your speech and your visage The day that maked was our marriage. Chaucer.

The acts of God . . . to human ears Can nort without process of speech be told. Milton.


A particular language, as distinct from others; a tongue; a dialect.

People of a strange speech and of an hard language. Ezek. iii. 6.


Talk; mention; common saying.

The duke . . . did of me demand What was the speech among the Londoners Concerning the French journey. Shak.


formal discourse in public; oration; harangue.

The constant design of these orators, in all their speeches, was to drive some one particular point. Swift.


ny declaration of thoughts.

I. with leave of speech implored, . . . replied. Milton.

Syn. Harangue; language; address; oration. See Harangue, and Language.


© Webster 1913.

Speech, v. i. & t.

To make a speech; to harangue.



© Webster 1913.

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