Historical Rhetoric Twitter Style

What if Twitter had existed for over two centuries? Mankind might not have experienced the beautiful prose, witty quips and moving rhetoric produced by some of the world’s foremost speech writers. Here are some examples of the most famous English speeches of the past two hundred years as they would have been written on Twitter.

“Less is more.” – Robert Browning, Andrea del Sarto

Abraham Lincoln
“The Gettysburg Address”
19th of November 1863; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States

This nation is conceived in liberty. All men are created equal. Government of/by/for the people shall not perish from the earth. #Gettysburg

Winston Churchill
“We Shall Fight on the Beaches”
4th of June 1940; House of Commons, London, Great Britain

We shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be! We shall fight on the beaches, landing grounds, fields, streets, hills. #neversurrender

John F. Kennedy
“Ich Bin Ein Berliner”
26th of June, 1963; Rathaus Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany

Freedom is indivisible. When one man is enslaved, all are not free. Free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin. #IchbineinBerliner

Martin Luther King Jr.
“I Have a Dream”
28th of August 1963; Washington, D.C., United States

I have a dream that black&white boys&girls join hands as sisters and brothers. My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty. #freedom_ring

Barack Obama
“Yes We Can”
4th of November 2008; Grant Park, Illinois, United States

Hope of a better day. Change has come to America. We’ve never been a collection of red&blue states. We are&always will be the USA. #YesWeCan

Niles: What happened to the concept of “less is more”?
Frasier:  Ah, but if “less is more,” just think of how much more “more” will be.
Frasier (1999) Season 7, Ep. 13; “They’re Playing Our Song” [No. 157]


Dunglish is an interlanguage of Dutch and English sometimes known as Dutch English. It is a language term for the typical mistakes native Dutch speakers make when speaking English. Here are some examples of serious Dutch English linguistic accidents:

“I can stand my little man”
– Dries van Agt (former Dutch prime minister)

Transliteration of ik kan mijn mannetje staan, a Dutch idiom meaning roughly “I can stand up for myself”. The inevitable misunderstanding needs little explaining.

“Golden showers”
– Frits Bolkenstein (former leader of the Dutch Liberal Party)

Bolkestein repeatedly referred to economic prospects as “golden showers”, as he was clearly unaware of the term’s quite obvious sexual connotation.

“The Dutch are a nation of undertakers”
– Joop den Uyl (former Dutch prime-minister)

The Dutch verb ondernemen is literally the English verb to undertake (as onder is under, and nemen is take). The Dutch noun ondernemer is thus literally undertaker; in English however, the French loanword entrepreneur is used. (In Dutch, the word begrafenisondernemer means funeral director.)

– Pieter Gerbrandy (former Dutch prime-minister)

Gerbrandy once had a meeting with Churchill in London. Gerbrandy entered the room and shook Churchill’s hand, saying: “Goodbye!” Churchill responded: “This is the shortest meeting I have ever had.” Gerbrandy had erroneously translated the Dutch goedendag meaning “good day”, which in Dutch can be both used as a greeting and a valediction.

“I fok horses”
– Joseph Luns (former Dutch foreign secretary)

One of the best quoted examples of Dunglish was said to have taken place between the Dutch foreign minister Joseph Luns (a man whose main foreign language was French, the language of diplomacy prior to World War II) and John F. Kennedy. At one point Kennedy inquired if Luns had any hobbies, to which he replied “I fok horses” (the Dutch verb fokken meaning to breed). Likely taken aback by this strangely obscene reply, Kennedy asked “Pardon?”, which Luns then mistook as the Dutch word for horses (paarden) and enthusiastically responded “Yes, paarden!”

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