Learning, you know, to speak, like, better

Thursday, February 11, 1999 (All day)
A January 31 Boston Globe article noted a trend among top colleges to help their students speak well. Smith College president Ruth Simmons decried as "mallspeak" some students' fondness for inserting into sentences meaningless and unnecessary words such as "I mean," "you know," and the ever- popular "like."

Programs at Smith, Mount Holyoke, MIT, and other colleges to enhance students' speech were mentioned as efforts to reduce students' reliance on "mallspeak." Carrie Alme '01, a speaking mentor, noted, "School has become less formal over the years, so people don't feel as pressured to be as articulate as they were in the olden days." Lee Bowie, director of the Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program, said, "We don't want to be stuffy about insisting on a standard of proper oratory" but advocated that students students learn a variety of rhetorical styles. "Once people can choose a voice for the occasion, the vernacular doesn't look like so much a problem, but an option."

The day after the Globe article, radio commentator Paul Harvey picked up the story, mentioning Mount Holyoke's program again in his morning broadcast.

On February 10, television crews from Fox News and Good Morning America were on campus filming Speaking Center activities.

Want to know more about Mount Holyoke's Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program?