« AnteriorContinuar »
dom fails to appear. In prevent, prevail, predict, a bad articulation sinks e of the first syllable so as to make prvent, pr-vail, pr-dict. The case is the same with o in proceed, profane, promote; spoken pr-ceed, &c. So e is confounded with short u in event, omit, &c. spoken uvvent, ummit. In the same manner u is transformed into e, as in populous, regular, singular, educate, &c. spoken pop-elous, reg-e-lar, ed-e-cate. A smart percussion of the tongue, with a little rest on the consonant before u, so as to make it quite distinct, would remove the difficulty.
The same sort of defect, it may be added, often appears in the indistinct utterance of consonants ending syllables; thus in at-tempt, at-tention, ef-fect, of-fence, the consonant of the first syllable is suppressed.
To the foregoing remarks, it may be proper to add three cautions.
The first is, in aiming to acquire a distinct articulation, take care not to form one that is measured and mechanical. Something of preciseness is very apt to appear at first, when we attempt to correct the above faults; but practice and perseverance will enable us to combine ease and fluency with clearness of utterance. The child in passing from his spelling manner, is ambitious to become a swift reader, and thus falls into a confusion of organs that is to be cured only by retracing the steps which produced it. The remedy, however, is no better than the fault if it runs into a scan-ning, pe-dan-tic for-mal-i-ty, giving undue stress to particles and unaccented syllables; thus, "He is the man of all the world whom I rejoice to meet." Perhaps there is something in the technical formalities of language attached to the bar, which inclines
some speakers of that profession, to this fault. In the pulpit, there is sometimes an artificial solemnity, which produces a drawling, measured articulation, of a still more exceptionable kind.
In some parts of our country, inhabited by descendants of foreigners, especially the Dutch, there is a prevalent habit of sinking the sound of e or i in words where English usage preserves it, as in rebel, chapel, Latin,— spoken reb❜l, chap'l, Lat'n. In other cases, where English usage suppresses the vowel, the same persons speak it with marked distinctness, or turn it into u; as ev'n, op'n, heav'n,-pronounced ev-un, op-un, heav-un.
The second caution is,-let the close of sentences be spoken clearly; with sufficient strength, and on the proper pitch, to bring out the meaning completely. No part of a sentence is so important as the close, both in respect to sense and harmony.
The third cantion is,--ascertain your own defects of articulation, by the aid of some friend, and then devote a short time statedly and daily, to correct them. It is impossible, without a resolute experiment, to know how much the habit of reading aloud, besides all its other advantages, may do for a public speaker in giving distinctness to his delivery.* At first, this exercise should be in the hearing of a second person, who may stop the reader, and
* A friend of mine, a respectable lawyer, informed me that, in a court which he usually attended, there was often much difficulty to hear what was spoken at the bar, and from the bench. One of the judges, however, a man of slender health, and somewhat advanced in age, was heard with perfect ease in every part of the court room, whenever he spoke. So observable was the difference between him and others, that the fact was mentioned to him as a
point out, at the moment, the fault to be corrected. For some time the rate of utterance should be slower than usual, and directed to the single point of distinctness, dismissing all regard to the sense of words, lest this lead him to forget the object. To make sure of this end, if he cannot do it otherwise, he may pronounce the words of a common vocabulary. At any rate, let him make a list of such words, and combinations as he has found most difficult to his organs, and repeat them as a set exercise. If he has been accustomed to say omnip-e-tent, pop-e-lous, pr-mote, pr-vent, let him learn to speak the unaccented vowels properly.
As directly connected with articulation, a few remarks on impediments seem to be necessary. Stammering may doubtless exist from such causes, and to such degree as to be insurmountable; though in most cases, a complete remedy is attainable by the early use of proper means. They who have given most attention to this defect, suppose that it should generally be ascribed to some infelicity of nervous temperament. When this is the cause, eagerness of emotion, fear of strangers, surprise, anxiety, -any thing that produces a sudden rush of spirits, will communicate a spasmodic action to the organs of speech. The process of cure in such a case, must begin with such attention to bodily health, as will give firmness to the ner
subject of curiosity. The judge explained it by saying, that his vocal powers, which were originally quite imperfect, had acquired clearness and strength by the long continued habit of reading aloud, for about half an hour, every day.
vous system, and produce a calm, clear, and regular action of the mind.
With this preparation, it is best not to put the stammerer at first to the hardest task of his organs, but to begin at a distance, and come to the difficulty by regular approaches. The course that has been pursued, with perfect success, by one respectable teacher, is this. The pupil is to begin with reading verse; the more simple and regular, the better he is to mark the feet distinctly with his voice, and beat time with his hand or toe to the movement. From verse of this regular structure, he may proceed to that which is less uniform in metrical order; then to prose, of the elevated and poetic kind; then to common prose; and then by degrees to the difficult combinations at which he had been accustomed to stammer.
In repeating certain words there may be an obstinate struggle of the organs; as in the attempt to pronounce parable, the p may be spoken again and again, while the remainder of the word does not follow. In such a case, the advice of the celebrated Dr. Darwin was, that the stammerer should, in a strong voice, eight or ten times, repeat the word, without the initial letter, or with an aspirate before it; as arable, harable; and then speak it softly, with the initial letter p,—parable. This should be practised for weeks or months, upon every word, where the difficulty of utterance chiefly occurs.
TONES AND INFLECTIONS.
THE former of these terms is more comprehensive than the latter, embracing, in its most extensive sense, all sounds of the human voice. In a more restricted and proper sense, we mean by tones those sounds which stand connected with some rhetorical principle of language. In a few cases passion is expressed by tones which have no inflection; but more commonly inflection is what gives significance to tones. Except a few general remarks here, no consideration of tones seems necessary, distinct from the subjects of the following chapters, especially Modulation.
SECT. 1. Tones considered as a language of emotion.
SIGHT has commonly been considered as the most active of all our senses. As a source of emotion, we derive impressions more various, and in some respects more vivid, from this sense, than from any other. Yet the class of tender emotions, such as grief and pity, are probably excited more strongly by the ear than the eye.
Whether any reason can be assigned for this or not, the fact seems unquestionable. A groan or shriek uttered by the human voice, is not only more intelligible than words, but more instantly awakens our sensibility than any signs of distress, that are presented to the sight. Our