Mark Twain's speeches survive the test of time through Twain's frequent use of humor to engage audiences--both past and present. However, some of his language choices pose special problems for modern audiences due to his use of the 19th century vernacular and some elements of sarcasm posed the risk of alienating audience members of his own time. Two of his speeches illustrate this fact.
I think the courage passage had some challenge because of the vocabulary choices of twain’s time when he said “you ought never to have any part of audience behind you; you never can tell what they are going to do”. I also think the unconscious plagiarism passage had some vocabulary choices of twain’s time. When he said “you never can receive letters enough from famous men afterward to obliterate that one, or dim the memory of the pleasant surprise it was, and the gratification it gave you. Lapse of time cannot make it commonplace or cheap”.
In the courage passage I feel that he shows a level of insensitivity when he said “ I suppose it maybe said of Nelson and all the others whose courage has been advertised that there came times in their lives when their bravery knew it had come to its limits”. In the day we celebrate passage when he said “His hat fitted me exactly; my hat fitted him exactly. So I judge I was born to rise to high dignity in the church some now or other but I do not know what he was born for”. Also in the unconscious plagiarism passage when he said “Doctor Holmes is still in his prime and full of generous life; and as age is not determined by years, but by trouble and infirmities of mind and body, I hope it may be very long time yet before anyone can truthfully say, “He is growing old”.
In the Day we celebrate passage when he said “I do not say “an” historical side, because I am speaking the American language”. I feel that he was trying to be sarcastic. Also in the courage passage when he said “I know a man who is not afraid to sleep with a rattlesnake, but...
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