Speaking Of Vs Speaking Too

Ogdred Weary

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I'm pretty certain I had never heard "speaking too" or "speaks too" in place of "speaking of"/"speaks of" prior to 10 years or so ago. I first noticed Americans using it in interviews or on podcasts. Now it seems to be everywhere and many British people use it frequently.

Was this always part of British English and I hadn't noticed? I presume it has a longer provenance in US English?
 

EnolaGaia

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If you're referring to the usage I'm pretty sure you mean, it's "speaking to" / "speaks to."

This particular idiom connotes commenting on, addressing, or illustrating / demonstrating some particular issue or topic. The "to" relates the speaking to subject matter rather than the person(s) involved in the communication / conversation. The "speak" part doesn't necessarily connote speech by an individual.

For example ... X asks to consult with Y about a problem. X and Y "speak to" each other (verbally converse), and what Y says in the conversation "speaks to" (addresses; explains; illuminates) X's concerns and the reasons why the problem situation is as it is.

There's a more abstract variation on this theme in which "speaks to" (which may or may not involve something actually spoken) connotes or points to some topic or issue above or beyond the immediate conversational context. To continue the example ... Y's response is sufficiently wide-ranging that it not only "speaks to" X's concerns, but (less directly) "speaks to" the background factors causing or aggravating the problem.

It's a relatively recent idiom, but I've found dictionary mentions of one or both senses dating back circa 40 years.
 

Mikefule

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Speaking to, when I was young, was when person a was speaking to person b.

Speaking of, when I was young and still today, is when you are discussing a person or subject. We might also say, "Speaking about...".

"Speaking to" in the sense of, "This speaks to 50 years of struggle for equal rights," seems to me to be a fairly recent usage but, if used appropriately, a useful one.

It implies that what is being said is not simply discussion of a subject, but adds something to an ongoing discussion. It implies shedding a new light on the subject, or adding weight to an argument, or supporting a point of view

From context, I feel it is always used in a positive, non-pejorative, way and normally about subjects that are assumed to be worthy causes.
 

catseye

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Does it mean 'addressing' or 'relevant to' in the context?

'That really speaks to me' is common, but is being surplanted by 'I really feel that', meaning that it's relevant to someone in a very personal or pertinent way.

I have never seen or heard 'speaks to' meaning 'speaks about', ever.
 

Ogdred Weary

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Does it mean 'addressing' or 'relevant to' in the context?

'That really speaks to me' is common, but is being surplanted by 'I really feel that', meaning that it's relevant to someone in a very personal or pertinent way.

I have never seen or heard 'speaks to' meaning 'speaks about', ever.

People use it in the context of something like "the paranormal really speaks to our fears of the natural world" in place of "reflects our fears".
 

catseye

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People use it in the context of something like "the paranormal really speaks to our fears of the natural world" in place of "reflects our fears".
I think, in that context, they really mean that it resonates with us, which I feel is a very slightly different meaning. I would say that a piece of music 'speaks to me' but it doesn't really reflect anything about me, it's a purely internalised thing. It's used in that context quite commonly and has been for a fair while (but it's probably an American import.)
 

Ogdred Weary

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I think, in that context, they really mean that it resonates with us, which I feel is a very slightly different meaning. I would say that a piece of music 'speaks to me' but it doesn't really reflect anything about me, it's a purely internalised thing. It's used in that context quite commonly and has been for a fair while (but it's probably an American import.)

Speaks to me makes sense, to me, speaks to a subject, doesn't.
 

EnolaGaia

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'That really speaks to me' is common, but is being surplanted by 'I really feel that', meaning that it's relevant to someone in a very personal or pertinent way.

Yes, but this sort of "resonates with me" meaning is a different sense of the phrase. For example:

I listen to the blues song because it really speaks to me.
(I dig it; it resonates with my mood or attitude)

Versus ...

I listen to the blues song because it speaks to my current situation.
(it reflects or illuminates my current problem / my world-weariness / etc.)
 

Yithian

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X speaks to Y

This seems most commonly to mean two similar things:

a) X is evidence of Y (i.e. betokens):

His multiple decorations for valour speak to the conspicuous courage with which he has conducted himself in both his professional and personal life.

b) X is a product of Y (i.e. stems from):

These recent changes to legislation speak to the dedication and tenacity of a small group of campaigners who pursued the cause of equality even through the darkest days of the dictatorship.

Personally, I don't use it. I already have multiple ways of expressing the same sentiment.
 
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