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A TRICKY TONGUE
I suppose there is nobody in the world-who isn't a "dummy"-that doesn't sometimes find himself in an embarrassing situation because his tongue says things he doesn't aim to say and has no thought of saying. At least, I know my tongue is in the habit of getting twisted and saying things I wish it hadn't said. The only explanation I can see for its saying such embarrassing things is that I am miles away in my thoughts from what my tongue is suddenly called upon to say. I have in mind two occasions when it very glibly said what I didn't want it to.
One rainy day last year I was in the town of Winona. I had gone to the bookstore to buy a book. After I had made my purchase and started out for the post office, I saw that it was raining pretty hard. Now it happened that I had no umbrella or raincoat. wanted to mail some letters so that they would go off on the morning mail. So I tucked my book under my coat, ducked down my head, and made a dash through the rain for the post office. Klu-blump! when I was about half way, I had a head-on collision with somebody else who was coming-like a blind man-from the post office to the bookstore. But he must have been a gentleman, for he had presence of mind enough to say rather damply, "Oh, pardon me!"
I was determined not to be outdone in politeness, and aimed to say, "Pardon me.' But my tongue must have thought the other fellow was at fault, for it blabbed out, "Pardon you"!
The other embarrassing time came on a rainy day, too. I was at home, reading a very interesting magazine story, when I heard the 'phone ring. I always hate to answer a 'phone call unless it's for me—and not many of them are. But I went to the 'phone anyway, and called out our number. A man at the other end asked, "Is Mr. Jones in?"
"All right; I'll call him. Hold the 'phone."
I paid no attention to my father's talk over the 'phone, but got back to my detective story.
In less than an hour the door bell rang. I didn't answer it, because I thought somebody else ought to act as bell boy this time. It buzzed away again, and since nobody seemed to be giving it any attention, I had to.
"Howdy do," said a pleasant-faced. middle-aged
I curtly replied, "Come in."
He looked at his dripping raincoat and wet feet, and said, "No, I guess not; I'm too wet. I'd like to speak to your father, please."
"All right," I said. "Hold the 'phone"!
(1) Do not forget to make use of the questions on page 45 to test the compositions in the text and those given by students in class.
(2) It has been previously said in the text that it is impossible for an oral composition to be written
out and then make the same kind of impression on a stranger who reads it as it did on those who heard it spoken in its original form. This fact is especially true of the humorous composition. A helpful way to read a printed oral composition (such as those occurring in this book) is to imagine, all the way through, that it is being spoken by some one you know who is good at expressing himself orally.
68. The Questionnaire.-The purpose of the following questionnaire is to aid the instructor in selecting, for the second and third exercises, topics that you are interested in, and that you have a knowledge of and could talk on. To assist in this purpose, you should make your answers full but to the point. All questionnaires should be written out in ink (or on the typewriter) on a uniform size of paper, preferably 812 x 11 inches. Put down the numbers of the questions as given in the book. Underscore the questions so as to distinguish them from your answers. It is better to write out each question and then immediately its answer, instead of writing out all the questions and returning to fill in the answers. following this suggestion, you allow yourself sufficient space for each answer. (See page 184 for questionnaire filled out, topics taken from it, and an oral composition on one of these topics.)
1. My name
2. My home town
3. Year in college*
4. Other colleges attended
5. Graduate from high school (give name and
6. Other high schools attended (dates)
7. Places of importance lived at
8. Kinds of work I have done
9. Kinds of work I am interested in 10. Sports and games I like
11. Traveled (when and where)
12. Important or interesting events in my life
13. General topics I am really interested in
14. Work I am specializing in (in preparation for lifework)
15. College studies I am taking
16. Study, or studies, I am most interested in 17. Additional information about me
69. The Second Exercise of the Third Form.-Your instructor will select topics for the second exercise. He will give the first student who is to talk his topic three or four minutes before the oral composition is to be given, so that the student can hastily run over the subject to select and arrange material. Just before the first student begins his talk, the instructor will make known to the second student his topic, so that this student can study it while the first one talks. In this way you are trained to think quickly, in a
Note: If you are a high school student, change the wording of the questionnaire to suit high school instead of college.
crowd, and while some one else is talking,-on a subject that has unexpectedly arisen.
2. An Oral Composition of the Second Exercise WHY I AM OPPOSED TO UNIVERSAL MILITARY TRAINING
Since this is an impromptu oral composition and the proposition is unexpected to me, I don't know what limitations are set to the term "universal military training." But we will suppose that it means that the United States Government should pass a law compelling all able-bodied men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one to take one year's military training under the charge of regular army officers.
I am opposed to universal military training for two reasons: first, because it is harmful to the nation in general; and, second because it is harmful to the individual.
How will it harm the nation? It is expensive. If we take the population of the United States as a hundred and ten million, then we can estimate that the Government must keep an army of something like a million men in training. These must be clothed, fed, sheltered, and provided for in every way at the expense of the Government. And in case of disability or death, pensions must be given. Camps, grounds, numerous items of military equipment, thousands of officers, and scores of other costly items must be added to the expense bill of running this vast army. We can get some notion of the extraordinary expense of