In praise of pub speak

Pub speak, good in the pub and, tidied up, good on paper

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to meet some really interesting people. Or perhaps, more accurately, I have been lucky enough to meet some people with really interesting things to say.

Over a cup of coffee – or, sometimes, a glass of something – men and women from all walks of life have entertained and educated me as they have chatted about the things that really interest them.

Sometimes, these people have talked about big ideas, potentially life-changing ideas. And they have spoken about them with great passion and amazing clarity. But just as often, they have talked about lesser things – although still with an infectious enthusiasm and a wonderful clarity.

Quite a few of these people have also written about their ideas. But, alas, that is usually where it has all gone wrong.

Why is it that the man or woman who, coffee cup or glass in hand, speaks so simply, so directly, so eloquently, then writes the most muddle-headed, flabby prose?

All too often, the journey from spoken word to written word is not a happy one. And yet there is no reason why the transition should not be seamless. Or at least almost seamless.

These people have already demonstrated – while sitting on the couch or standing at the bar – that they know what they are talking about. They have already demonstrated that they have a vocabulary to match their subject matter. And they have already demonstrated that they can hold the attention of an audience. (They have certainly held my attention.)

If these wonderful, enthusiastic people would just stop writing and go back talking – talking with their pen or their keyboard – they would have a lot more satisfied readers.

Pub speak works well in the pub. And pub speak – with just a little bit of extra care – also works pretty well on paper. Trust me. After all, polished-up pub speak is what you’re reading right now.

‘Time, ladies and gentlemen, please’. – Jack Scrivano

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