Vaughan’s Vocabulary

In the public speaking classes, my students and I apply an interpersonal communication theory known as the action assembly theory. Each speech has three main points. I encourage each student to write each main point as a sentence that he or she has never written, seen, or heard. The sentence should resonate with originality and creativity.

According to John O. Greene from the book “Engaging Theories in Interpersonal Communication- Multiple Perspectives,” it’s possible for us to say, think and do things that we’ve never heard, said, thought or done before.

The action assembly theory deals with the way you and I assemble, as it were, our verbal behavior, how we put together what we plan to say. AAT focuses on the connection between cognition and behavior- how thoughts get transformed into action.

This week’s word quiz is on terms I’ve encountered in my reading.

[1.] cognition (cog-NISH-un)

A. a term referring to the use of voice delivery, particularly articulation and diaphragmatic volume

B. a term referring to our thought processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehending

C. the act or process of knowing; perception

D. the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses.


[2.] assemble (uh-SIM-bul)

A. to unite

B. to put together the parts of

C. to ascertain

D. None of the above

Let’s see how you did with the first two. No. 1 is B, C, and D. The website The Basics of Cognition provided the definition for B. C and D came from and Oxford English Dictionary, respectively.

No. 2 is B.


[3.] missive (MISS-iv)

A. the part of a message that is not understood

B. a written message

C. sent or about to be sent, especially of a letter from an official source

D. the source of a message

E. None of the above


4. This is a Vaughan’s Vocabulary critical thinking exercise. Let’s say that you have been asked to speak on a topic that you know a great deal about. For your three main points, think of three sentences you’ve never written, heard, or read. Include a vocabulary-building word in each main point. Greene’s action assembly theory says that you can do this. E-mail your work to me:

No. 3 is B and C. B defines missive as a noun. C defines missive as an adjective.

Editor’s Note: Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D., is the pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church near Eupora and is on the faculty of East Mississippi Community College, Golden Triangle Campus. Contact him at

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