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day, on all the elements. The vowels should he exploded from the throat, both interrogatively and affirmatively, in every range of pitch within the compass of the voice, and with every possible degree of force.
The vowels are exploded in the following manner: make a full inspiration, close the glottis, and contract the muscles of expiration so as to condense the air in the lungs, then utter the element with a sudden and forcible emisson of the breath. The sounds thus produced may be denominated Vocal Thunder; the effect upon an audience is electrical.
This sudden and very forcible utterance of the vowels, is Stress in its most simple and elementary state, and in its highest degree. It is a function of the voice, which may be acquired by practice upon the elements, so as to be at the command of the speaker at any time he may wish to employ it, in the utterance of words and syllables.
Vowels form the body of most syllables; and the audible and satisfactory distinctness of all short syllables, in public speaking, depends upon the abruptness and force with which they are exploded by the voice. The kind of stress acquired by exploding the vowels constitutes one of the forms of emphasis. This stress is also the natural symbol of great energy of feeling.
But, independent of these things, if words are not marked by a due proportion of percussive or explosive stress, they will not be audible through an extensive space. Brilliancy, sprightliness, and energy of delivery, without which oratory has no existence, and which are essential to render a public speaker interesting, are dependent on a well marked and sustained stress.
Exploding the vowel elements, besides the advantages already mentioned, will be found to be a more effectual method than any other of obtaining a strong and powerful voice—of strengthening such voices as are feeble, of enabling the speaker to be heard at a great distance with very little effort or expenditure of breath, and of giving fullness and strength of tone to all in proportion to their natural capacities. It is also beneficial to health.
Articulation is defective when one or more elements of a word are omitted, or imperfectly formed; or when one element is substituted for another.
Defective articulation is exceedingly common: perhaps there is not one person in ten thousand whose articulation is perfect. This arises from the neglect of a proper gymnastic training of the organs of speech in childhood. As soon as children are capable of imitating sounds, they should be taught the elements of vocal language; and, to facilitate their acquisition of this knowledge, they should be made to exercise before a mirror, so as to compare the movements of their own lips with those of the lips of their instructor. By pursuing this course, a good foundation will be laid for a perfect and graceful articulation.
Children are apt to substitute the sound of d for that of g in gay; and the sound of t for that of k, or c in cat. Thus, for gay, they say day ,. for cake, tate, &c. To enable the pupil to correct these faults, I explain to him the manner in which the sounds of g and k are produced—they are formed by pressing the root of the tongue against the soft palate; and not, like d and t, by pressing its tip against the gums of the upper incisors. I then direct him to pronounce, after me, the elements d, g, and t, k, and the syllables da, ga, and ta, ka, thus:
d. g» d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g;
t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k;
11 3 3 33 4 4 11 33
da, ga; da, ga; da, ga; da, ga; de, ge; de, ge; &c.
ta, ka; ta, ka; ta, ka; ta, ka; te, ke; te, ke; &c.
The object of this exercise is to contrast the substituted sound with the correct one.
When this plan does not prove successful, I open my mouth as widely as possible, so that the tip of the tongue cannot touch the gums of the upper teeth, and request the pupil to open his in like manner. I then direct him to pronounce, after me, the following syllables:
1224 12 IS 122 12S
ga, ga, ga, ga; ge, ge; gi, gi; go, go, go; gu, gu, gu; gou.
1224 12 12 122 122
ka, ka, ka, ka; ke, ke; ki, ki; ko, ko, ko; ku, ku, ku; kou.
ag, eg, ig, og, ug, oug; ak, ek, ik, ok, uk, ouk.
When neither of these schemes proves successful, I request the pupil to press his tongue downwards, and backwards, with his index finger, while I do the same; and pronounce, after me, the syllables in the preceding exercise. This I have never known to fail.
Some children omit the element z, when it follows d, and the element sh when it follows t; for instance, they pronounce John, don, and Charles, tarles, &c, My method of correcting these defects is to contrast the false pronunciation with the true one, as in the following exercise:
1 21 2 22 2 2S 4 24 1 21
da, dza; da, dza; da, dza; da, dza; de, dze; &c.
1 12 22 24 41 1
ta, tsha; ta, tsha; ta, thsa; ta, tsha; te, tshe; &c.
The V and W are confounded by the lower classes in London; when they would say vine, they say wine, and vice versa. An attention to the proper postures of the mouth, in the production of these elements, will soon enable the pupil to correct this fault.
In correcting faults in articulation, I often find it advantageous to exercise the pupil before a mirror, that he may observe the contrast between the movements of his own mouth, and those of mine.
Lisping is the substitution of the sound th for that of some other letter, generally for that of s, when it should be pure. Thus the words, sale, send, sight, song, &c, are pronounced thale, thend, thight, thong, &c.