Winston Churchill ‘Mobilised The English Language’
Feb 16, 2015
That’s what JFK said about Churchill. We are now remembering the 50th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death; some of us can remember the State Funeral, some will remember him as Prime Minister while yet fewer will remember the Wartime Prime Minister.
But I’m not thinking of him as a war leader, or even as a politician, but as the writer of some remarkable and inspirational speeches. So, how did he do it? The basic rules are quite simple …
- Churchill used short, simple words, preferably of Anglo-Saxon origin. He said: ‘Short words are the best and old words when short are best of all’.
- ‘Give us the tools and we will finish the job’
- ‘We shall never surrender’
- ‘Blood, toil, tears and sweat’
- He used pauses creatively so as to enhance his delivery and the drama of what he was saying.
- His speeches have a definite progressive rhythm – in places almost poetic, and some of his scripts look as if they are written in verse form..
- He painted many word pictures to illustrate his points and transport the listener’s imagination.
- ‘… and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands’
- ‘… will sink into the abyss of a new dark age’
- He had his speeches typed with a lot of white space and sometimes with only one phrase per line so that he could deliver it easily and highlight the pauses.
- He gets to the point with a strong beginning and finished with a strong, memorable ending.
- ‘The news from France is very bad …’
- ‘This was their finest hour’
A remarkably detailed analysis of one of Churchill’s speeches can be found at