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what's the difference between speak and talk semantically?

speak etymology[edit]

The noun entry for "speak" has two definitions which I strongly suspect should be two different etymologies. The first "jargon" as in IT speak, could either be a suffix rather than a noun, and/or is the same etymology as the verb. The second, "speakeasy" is almost sure to be a shortening of that same word. -- ALGRIF talk 12:54, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

First greeting of the day[edit]

I would suggest a more specific nuance of meaning for "speak" which, as near as I can tell, originates in the vernacular of the South, that is to say the Southern USA. To "speak" is to give the first greeting of the day to everyone you meet. In the South, and now increasingly in the rest of the USA, it is considered impolite to pass someone for the first time of the day without the exchange of standard verbal niceties such as, "How are you?" The expected answer is "Fine, and you?" regardless of the condition of an individual's actual health. A true answer is not expected, nor is it polite to give one.

A similar exchange is expected on phone conversations, as in a salutation.

This ritual is separate from any real conversation with purpose, which may or may not follow the ritual. The exchange must occur immediately upon encountering each new person regardless of whether any prior conversations are in progress, or whether the person is working or reading, etc. I believe this tradition originates from Southern Black slaves to whom each day was uncertain, for whom the possibility of being sold away from one's family always loomed.


  • He's so rude; he passed right by and didn't speak.
  • Did she speak? No? Maybe she's sick or something.