(in "The Buddhas Ancient Path", Colombo, 1964)
(...) Let us now consider Right Speech. What a wonderful thing is speech, for just a word can change a man's whole outlook towards good. and evil. Are we not really fortunate in this gift which is denied to animals? Yet how few of us care to use it for our own and others' welfare. Much trouble and misunderstanding could be avoided if only people would be more thoughtful and gentle in what they say and more accurate and sincere in what they write.
Speech is a gift of great value since through it we can express thoughts and ideas which can be shared with others. But if the tongue, which is boneless and pliable, is allowed to become unruly, it can play havoc. Is it not responsible for much strife and trouble from squabbles between families to wars between nations? If man could but tame his tongue, would not the world be a far better place to live in?
Speech should not be dominated by unwholesome thoughts -- by greed, anger, jealousy, pride, selfishness and so on. Much talk certainly prevents calmness and right thinking, and a glib tongue leads to all four types of wrong talk. Says the Buddha: "Monks, there are these five disadvantages and dangers in garrulous speech: the glib talker utters falsehoods, slanders, speaks harsh and idle words, and after death is reborn in an evil state of existence." 
1. In the context of right speech, the first virtue is to abstain from falsehood and speak the truth. Such a person, as the Metta sutta says, is straight, nay transparently straight (uju, suju) . He is sincere, upright and dependable. He does not stray from the truth to win fame, or to please another. He may seem strict, but 'truth is one, for there is no second" . 'The Buddha did not say one thing one day and the contrary the next.'  'Because he speaks as he acts and acts as he speaks, he is called Tathagata.'  The Master is also known'as Saccanama, 'he whose name is Truth'.
The Buddha was so emphatic with regard to this evil of lying, that his first lesson to little Rahula, the seven-year-old novice,  seems to have been on the worthlessness of falsehood (we know that children of tender age, wittingly or not, often speak falsely).
Once the Blessed One visited little Rahula. The latter got a seat ready and water for washing the feet. The Master washed his feet and sat down. Little Rahula paid obeisance to the Blessed One and sat at one side. Then the Master, having poured a little water into a vessel, said:
- Do you, see, Rahula, this little quantity of water left in the vessel ?
- Yes, venerable sir.
- Even so, Rahula, insignificant is the recluseship of those who are not ashamed to lie.
Then the Master having thrown away the water addressed the novice:
- Do you note, Rahula, that little quantity of water thrown away?
- Yes, venerable sir.
- Even so, Rahula, discarded, indeed, is the recluseship of those who are not ashamed to lie.
Then the Master overturned the water vessel and addressed the novice:
- Do you, Rahula, see this vessel that has been overturned?
- Yes, venerable sir.
- Even so, Rahula, overturned, indeed, is the recluseship of those who are not ashamed to lie.
Then the Master having uprighted the vessel addressed the novice:
- Do you, Rahula, see this water vessel that is void, empty?
- Yes, venerable sir.
- Even so, Rahula, void and empty is the recluseship of those who are not ashamed to lie ... Even so, Rahula (citing the simile of a king's elephant) of anyone who is not ashamed to lie, I say that there is no evil that he cannot do. Wherefore, Rahula, thus, indeed, should you train yourself: 'Not even for fun will I tell a lie." 
2. Slander or tale-bearing (pisunavaca) is the next evil that the tongue can commit. The Pali word means literally 'breaking up of fellowship'. To slander another is most wicked for it entails making a false statement intended to damage someone's reputation. The slanderer often commits two crimes simultaneously, he says what is false because his report is untrue and then he back-bites.
In Sanskrit poetry the back-biter is compared to a mosquito which though small is noxious. It comes singing, settles on you, draws blood and may, if a female, give you malaria. Again the talebearer's words may be sweet as honey, but his mind is full of poison.
Let us then avoid tale-bearing and slander. which distroy friendships. Instead of causing trouble let us speak words that make for peace and reconciliation.  Instead of sowing the seed of dissension, let us bring peace and friendship to those living in discord and enmity. 'Be united; wrangle not,' said the Buddha. "Concord alone is commendable' (samavayo eva sadhu)  was inscribed by Asoka on stone. Since we depend on one another, we must learn to live together in peace, friendship and.harmony.
3. The next virtue is to abstain from harsh words and be pleasant and courteous. What we say can bring gain or loss, praise or blame, good repute or ill, misery or happiness. A gentle word can melt the hardest heart, while a harsh word can cause untold agony.
We should think twice before we speak ill of anyone, for it is an attempt to damage his character, his good name. But it does not matter if, when praising another, we slightly overpaint the picture, for this does not lead to unpleasantness and heart-burning., As the Buddha says:
'In man's mouth a hatchet grows
With which fools will cut themselves
When they utter evil words. 
In the Buddha's day a festival called 'Simpletons' Holiday (Balamakkhatta) was sometimes held in which only the simple minded took part. For a week they smeared their bodies with ashes and cowdung and wandered about abusing and shouting coarsely at people. Even friends, relatives, ascetics and monks were not spared. People would fling them a few coppers to be rid of them. The devout followers of the Buddha besought the Master not to enter the city until the festival was over. Then the Buddha said: 'Foolish and uninstructed dolts are offensive like that, but the wise cultivate mindfulness and attain the Deathless Nibbana. 
Man's speech often indicates his character. A harsh word, an unpleasant gesture, a crooked smile, may turn a good-natured man into a criminal, a friend into a foe.
'Speak not harshly to anyone,
For those accosted will retort;
Painful is vindictive talk,
You may receive blows in exchange. 
One of the past stories of the Bodhisatta tells how he weaned his otherwise good mother from harsh speech. It is said that she was rude and ill-tongued, but that her son, aware of the weakness, did not want to hurt her by speaking too plainly. One day the Bodhisatta, who was then king of Benares, went to a park with his mother and retainers. On the way a blue jay screeched so discordantly that all covered their ears and cried: 'What a harsh call, what a screech! Don't let us hear that again.' Now it happened later that when the Bodhisatta was strolling in the pleasance with his mother and retainers, an Indian cuckoo called so sweetly that the people were happy and hoped that it would sing again.
This was the moment for which the Bodhisatta had been,waiting. He said: 'Mother dear, the jay's cry was dreadful and we covered our ears rather than listen to it. No one delights in a coarse language. Though dark and without beauty the cuckoo won the love and attention of all with its pleasing call. One's speech, therefore, should be friendly and restrained, calm and full of meaning....' Thus exhorted by her son, the mother became refined in speech and elegant in manners. 
Pleasant and courteous speech attracts and is an asset to society, yet how often is beauty marred by rude talk. 'The language of the heart, the language which couies from the heart, is always simple, graceful and full of power.' 
4. The fourth and last virtue concerned with right speech is to abstain from frivolous talk or gossip which brings no profit to anyone, anywhere. People are too fond of idle talk, of maliciously disparaging others. The papers in their gossip columns are just as bad. Men and women with time on their hands indulge in endless chatter, amusing themselves at the expense of others. As J. L. Hollard says: 'Gossip is always a personal confession either of malice or imbecility. It is a low, frivolous and too often a dirty business in which neighbours are made enemies for life'. The Buddha's golden advice is: 'When, monks, you have gathered together there are two things to be done, either talk about the Dhamma (the Doctrine) or keep nobly silent '. 
The Buddha was very critical of idle chatter, scandal and rumour for they disturb serenity and concentration. 'Better than a thousand sentences -- a mere jumble of meaningless words -- is one sensible phrase on hearing which one is pacified." 
A sage is sometimes called by the Pali word muni which means one who keeps silent. Yes, 'silence is golden' so do not speak unless you are sure you can improve on silence.
'Much talking is a source of danger,
Through silence misfortune is avoided.
The talkative parrot in a cage is shut,
While birds that cannot talk fly freely.' 
'One does not become a wise man just by talking a lot;  neither is he versed in the doctrine (Dhammadhara) because he speaks much.'  And lest one should misunderstand the silence of the muni, the Buddha also says: 'To keep silent does not turn a foolish ignoramus into a sage, (muni)" 
In conclusion let us listen to the discourse on 'Good Speech': 
'The good say:
1. Noble speech is apt,
2. Speak the Dhamma not a-dhamma: 
3. Say what is pleasant, not unpleasant;
4. Speak what is true, not lies.
Speak only words that do not bring remorse
Nor hurt another. That is good speech, indeed.
Truth is immortal speech, it is an ancient law.
In truth, weal and Dhamma the sages are established.
The Buddha's words of peace to Nibbana lead,
To suffering's end. Such words are good indeed.'
 A. iii. 254
 See above, p. 115
 Sn. 884
 Advejjhavacana Buddha, Bv. p. 12 verse 110: cf. A. iii, 403 'How. when I have definitely declared it, can there be an alternative (dyejjham)?'
 D. iii. 135, sutta 29
 He joined the Order at the age of seven
 M. 61.
 M. 27, 38 and passim.
 Inscription, no. 12
 S. i. 149
 Dhp. Com. I. 256.
 Dhp. 133
 Jat. no. 269
 C. N. Boyee. Wisdom of the Ages, p. 374
 M. 26; Ud. p. 31.
 Dhp. 100.
 See Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrine, p. 61
 Dhp. 238
 Dhp. 259
 Dhp. 268
 Subhasita-sutta. Sn.
 Dhamma here implies speech full of meaning and free from gossip; a-dhamma is its opposite.
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