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In what case you would say "I speak things" instead of "I say things"?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I speak things means something like I proclaim things, pertaining authority, like I speak things into existence. I say things is way of normal discourse.

  • Canadians say things like "a" every second word.
  • I speak things I do not see as though they were.
  • I speak to my dog and he obeys.


I speak things faster than I think.

Which is only a problem if the things I speak have certain authority or effect. Usually I would use this phrase if the things I spoke had a proclaiming character and hurt a situation or person.

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Thank You soooo much, Ralph, for these explanations. "I would use this phrase if the things I spoke had a proclaiming character and hurt a situation or person" - Do You think a situation when I give a toast at my friend's birthday party or a case with a professor teaching (lecturing) from a platform (lecturing desk) would also fall into that kind of category? – brilliant Nov 28 '10 at 16:06
@brilliant - What I meant is that speaking faster than I think usually hurts. A toast is a perfect situation to speak things - proclaim positive things over the future of a person. It is, if you are not careful and speak faster than you think, a perfect situation to intimidate or hurt that person. So both could apply. – malach Nov 28 '10 at 17:06
I see, Ralph. Thank You very much!!! – brilliant Nov 28 '10 at 17:34
Are you suggesting that I could say "my best man spoke wonderful things at my wedding" or "today the professor spoke things I could not understand"? Those are awkward at best, or even potentially non-native sounding. Even "I speak things faster than I think" sounds awkward to me and "I speak things I do not see..." is certainly archaic. – Kosmonaut Nov 29 '10 at 17:25
@kosmonaut - not archaic, biblical and therefore most up to date (Heb 11:1). ;-) Unusual, I agree. – malach Nov 29 '10 at 17:28

In ordinary speech, "speak" does not take a direct object. You can be speaking, you can speak to somebody, but to "speak words" or "speak a message" is unusual and I would say literary. (I except idioms like "speak my mind" and "speak the truth", and also the construction "Speak English", where the language looks syntactically like a direct object, but I actually think it is a verbal modifier, like an adverb).

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Well, Colin, I know that all too well, but what really interests me here is in what case people would say exactly this word-combination "speak things" (not "speak my mind", "speak the truth", etc.) I know "speak" usually doesn't take a direct object and it sounds a little strange or literary, yet I still want(ed) to know in what case people would still say "speak things". I think Ralph already answered my question quite well. – brilliant Nov 29 '10 at 16:30
Well, I would never say "I speak things" unless I was being deliberately pompous or archaic. – Colin Fine Nov 29 '10 at 17:08
@brilliant: I am inclined to agree with Coline Fine. Per your question, I would (almost?) never say "speak things" at all. I might write "speak things", but even that would be potentially archaic and certainly affected writing. – Kosmonaut Nov 29 '10 at 17:18
@brilliant: I would laugh... but if I retold it I would replace "speak things" with "speak" or "say things" :) – Kosmonaut Nov 30 '10 at 19:55
For me, "speaking things" is not something that even a professor would say to himself to mean "saying things in public". It simply does not have that meaning for me, without considerably more context. – Colin Fine Dec 2 '10 at 12:47

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