Thursday, June 17, 2010
What did Emerson say regarding nonverbal communication?
The philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson is often quoted as having said something like:
“What you do speaks louder than what you say"
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say”
or even (according to John F. Kennedy):
“What we are speaks louder than what we say.”
According to Ralph Keyes’s book The Quote Verifier, what the other Ralph actually said (in Letters and Social Aims) was:
“Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”
Thunders is a much more powerful word than the longer and less specific “speaks loud” (or loudly). In his book The Devil’s Dictionary Ambrose Bierce defined quotation as:
‘The act of repeating erroneously the words of another”
I prefer Emerson’s original words. How about you?