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April 29, 1974

Exorcizing the Spooks

Author Affiliations

Baylor College of Medicine Houston

JAMA. 1974;228(5):567-568. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230300015012

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To the Editor.—  I am not sure what the editor means by "harshly accented pretenders to the language" (227:440, 1974). If he means foreigners with heavy accents, I would prefer hearing a Szent-Györgyi or an Albert Einstein in the flesh—harsh accent and all—than slick elocutionists who "understood not a word of what they spoke." The very presence of a man of great ideas infuses an audience with excitement and inspiration, and, generally, his presentation is highly thought-provoking. Listening to a facile version of that man's great ideas delivered by the glib tongue of a professional speechmaker is, by comparison, a banal experience. Anyone, however, with an incomprehensible accent or other speech problem, whether he be genius or less, owes it to his audience to take elocution lessons to correct the defect. Otherwise, his efforts at public speaking are completely self-defeating.If the editor means by "pretenders to the language" those