Posted by ESC on November 06, 2004

In Reply to: Piece posted by Bob on November 06, 2004

: : : : I'm involved in a heated debate (yes, I know this is sad) between 2 camps, one that things that phrase is "speak my peace", and the other (including me) who KNOWS that it's "speak my piece". Any backup for which one is right. The "peace" option just makes no sense to me, whereas speaking one's piece, as far as I know, comes from the meaning of speaking/reciting a piece of poetry or literature or whatnot.

: : : : Any insight? Is there an origin to this phrase that I can use to back it up?

: : : Merriam-Webster online: 9 : OPINION, VIEW. Spoke his piece.

: : : I am guessing that its origins are in the pre-television custom of almost everyone having a poem or story that he or she could present. A piece.

: : Here you go. From dictionary.com

: : speak one's piece

: : Also, say one's piece. Say what one thinks, or what one usually says or is expected to say. For example, All right, you've spoken your piece; now let someone else have a turn. The piece in this expression alludes to a memorized poem or speech of the kind recited in a classroom. [Mid-1900s]

: Piece. Definitely. Your opponents are misguided. Haven't they ever had to endure a children's recital, where all the little darlings get to do their recital pieces?
: In the 19th C., in America, it was a common practice for students to memorize famous speeches or patriotic poems, or doggerel by Whittier and Longfellow and such. "the Wreck of the Hesperus" might be one student's piece, while another might have "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." English authors, to a lesser extent. Tennyson. "Charge of the Light Brigade" or Gray's "Elegy."

I collect old books of poems, dramatic readings, etc., that were recited in school. Even when I was in school in the 60s, most people had a piece or a song, etc., that they would perform when called upon. Alvita would recite "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Clancy, Wayne Newton's cousin, would sing "Running Bear." And so forth.