right speech

I have just been editing an article which refers to “The negative and discriminatory rhetoric of the current same-sex marriage debate [in Australia]”. For the target readership, I wanted to change “rhetoric” to something simpler. But what?
Thesuarus.com lists as synonyms for “rhetoric”: hyperbole, oratory, address, balderdash, bombast, composition, discourse, elocution, eloquence, fustian, grandiloquence, magniloquence, oration, pomposity, verbosity, big talk, flowery language, hot air. Most of these have moderately or extremely negative connotations. Even rhetoric, which includes “the art of prose in general as opposed to verse”, “the ability to use language effectively”, “the art of making persuasive speeches” and “the art or science of all specialized literary uses of languages in prose or verse” has as its number one definition (according to Dictionary.com) “the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast”.

Because the passage already has the adjectives “negative and discriminatory”, I don’t need a noun with negative connotations, so I simply changed it to “negative and discriminatory language”.

There seems to be no word for the neutral or good use of language to communicate and cooperate. I just thought of rectiloquence (right speech), but precisely no-one has ever used that term and it seems too grand for everyday use. In Modern Australian Usage, Nicholas Hudson writes:

So, how do we describe the eloquence of the person who is, quite simply, a pleasure to listen to? … It is a subtle mix of medium and message, good sense delivered with apparently effortless grace … A large vocabulary and an ability to keep complex sentences under control are both very admirable attainments, but for most of us a better path lies in using another class of eloquence, which depends on absolute clarity of thought and simplicity of expression. Here is an example of eloquence:

Two boys were playing with a frog, and it died. To the boys this was just part of the game, but to the frog it was reality.

This is not from any of the great orators or raconteurs; it is from Plato.

I am reminded of the movie The King’s Speech. At one point Prince Albert/King George is watching a newsreel of a speech by Adolf Hitler. Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth asks “Papa, what’s he saying?”. He replies “I don’t know but … he seems to be saying it rather well”. Hitler was bombastic. In his wartime speech at the end of the movie, King George was … rectiloquent.


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