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1111When I lived in Goa, I used to talk to myself a lot. The only times I had a listener other than myself were when I was on call with my mother or mother-in-law or when the man came back in the evening. So sometimes, in sheer frustration, I used to talk to myself.

Sometimes I also spoke to myself. Those were the times when I used to tell myself to chin up or even suck up to something. It worked, mostly, because I believe that you can do so much more when you can motivate yourself, without necessarily allowing someone else to do the pepping.

I am hoping you’ve noticed that I used both “talk” and “speak” in two different senses. I did that to tell you that today I shall write about the essential difference between talking and speaking. While both imply vibrating your vocal chords, there are subtle differences and even if my blog failed to impress the jury at the Indian Blogger Awards, I know that I still have a fair number of followers on this blog. So here I am, at your service as always 🙂

So, speaking. While one can say that speaking is not very different from talking, there is one fundamental thing you need to know. Speaking is usually a more formal mode of communication. It generally implies that you are clear and, more importantly, intelligible, when you are expressing your thought. When you speak, you have already framed what you are going to say and usually, it is a more formal discussion, conversation or monologue. For example,

I shall speak at the Women’s Club tomorrow about healthy dieting.
The Principal spoke to us about our falling grades today.
I shall speak with him about his littering habits.

Let’s not get into the preposition after speaking just yet. We’ll talk about them on a later post, but do you get my point here? In all three examples, I have illustrated how speaking is a more formal expression and should be used as such.

Now, about talking, you may have heard the phrase “talking without saying anything”. We all do that, no matter how articulate we think we are, and that phrase best explains the word “talking”. Talking is what we do when we are in informal conversation. We may not have a set of framed ideas to convey, or even a planned number of items to discuss but when we talk, we may meander, faff, or even simply have a conversation that has meaning and purpose, but is still informal. For example,

I talked to him for hours last evening.

Danny was talking to Alex when I entered the room.

Befriend and talk to your neighbours because they are good people.

Again, we’ll skip the preposition part for now. but you do get the idea, don’t you? Talking is a more informal exchange where there no fixed agenda. I know that a lot of people now say, “I am giving a talk at the rally tomorrow” or “The chairman talked about the increased production costs” but it is inappropriate usage, I am afraid. Both occasions give a sense of being formal, and as such, you should always use the term “speak” in relation to them when you talk to your friends and family about them.

Another minor point here is, a lot of people consider “speaking” a more polite form of exchange while “talking” is perceived to be a harsher, or even cruder, form.

That makes me wonder, would the old farts sitting in Parliament behave themselves better if we had a “Talker” instead of a “Speaker” at the helm?