« PreviousContinue »
11. ELOCUTION is that pronunciation which is given to words when they are arranged into sentences, and form discourse. It includes the tones of voice, the utterance, and enunciation of the speaker, with the proper accompaniments of countenance and gesture.
The art of elocution may therefore be defined to be that system of rules which teaches us to pronounce written or extemporaneous composition with justness, energy, variety, and ease; and, agreeably to this definition, good reading or speaking may be considered as that species of delivery which not only expresses the sense of the words so as to be barely understood, but at the same time gives them all the force, beauty, and variety of which they are susceptible.
$ 2. Vocality. In Vocality we consider the power of expression, by the voice. In order to read and speak well, it is necessary to have all the vocal elements under complete command so that they may be duly applied when required. The student, therefore, should first exercise his voice on the elementary sounds; for, when pronounced singly, these will receive a concentration of the organic effort, the habit of which will insure distinctness and force in the compounds of speech.
In all reading and public speaking, the management of the breath requires great care, so the speaker may not be obliged to divide words from one another which have so intimate a connection that they ought to be pronounced in the same breath, and without the least separation. Many sentences are marred, and the force of the emphasis totally lost, by divisions being made in the wrong place. To avoid this, every one, while he is reading or speaking, should be careful to provide a full supply of breath for what he is to utter.
It is a great mistake to imagine that the breath must be drawn only at the end of a period, when the voice is allowed to fall. It may easily be gathered at intervals of the period, when the voice is only suspended for & moment; and, by this management, we may have always a sufficient stock for carrying on the longest sentence, without improper interruptions.
The importance of a skillful management of the breath in utterance will be made apparent by a little practice. It is a good exercise for the pupil to repeat the cardinal numbers rapidly up to twenty, inhaling a full breath at the commencement. He may, by practice, make his breath hold out till he reaches forty and more, enunciating every syllable distinctly.
It must always be part of a healthful physiological regimen to exercise
are more use.
the voice daily, in reading or speaking aloud. The habit of Demosthenes, of walking by the sea-shore and shouting, was less important, in accustoming him to the sound of a multitude, than in developing and strengthening his vocal organs. The pupil will be astonished to find how much his voice will gain in power by daily exercise.
“Reading aloud and recitation,” says Andrew Combe, ful and invigorating muscular exercises than is generally imagined ; at least, when managed with due regard to the natural powers of the individual, so as to avoid effort and fatigue. Both require the varied activity of most of the muscles of the trunk to a degree of which few are conscious till their attention is turned to it. In forming and undulating the voice, not only the chest, but also the diaphragm and abdominal muscles, are in constant action, and communicate to the stomach and bowels a healthy and agreeable stimulus.”
§ 3. Elementary Sounds. The Alphabetic Elements, or Ele. mentary Sounds, are a in far, a in fat, a in fate, a in fall; e in me, e in met; i in fit; o in note, o in not; u in bull (equivalent to short oo in book); oo in fool; u in but; w in wet; y in yet ; h in hot ; ng in king; m in man; n in not ; l in let; r in run; and the following Cognate Consonant Sounds : P in pan, b in bag; fin fan, v in tan; th in thin, th in thine; t in tin, din din ; k in kind, g in gun; s-in sin, z in zeal ; sh in shine, z in azure.
There are four Compound Vowel Sounds, namely, i in pine, u in cube, ou in house, oi in voice; and two Compound Consonant Sounds, namely, ch in chest and j in jest. By some authorities a in fate (said to be compounded of a in fat and e in me) is classed among the compound vowel sounds.
The letters c, 9, and 2 do not appear in the list of elementary sounds, because, as representatives of sound, they are redundant; c expressing only what is as well expressed by s or k (as in city, can); q being only kw; and x, ks or gz.
By Cognate Consonant Sounds is meant a class of sounds allied or related to each other; as p and l, f and o, &c.; the first of the pair being called aspirate, and the second rocal. (See § 3, above.) The vocal sounds are distinguished from the aspirate by the addition of voice or a sort of guttural murmur; the one being, as it were, simply the thickened sound of the other.
§ 4. Articulation. Articulation is the correct formation by the organs of speech of certain sounds which add to vocality literal and verbal utterance. Audibility depends chiefly on articulation; and articulation depends much on the distinctness with which the final consonants of syllables and words are delivered. A strong delivery is to be constantly cultivated, – that is, not only an energy that shall prevent drawling, but at the same time a moderation that shall prevent a clipping away of the proper sounds as in hasty speaking.
$ 3. Accent. In the English language every word of more than one syllable is distinguished by the heavy utterance, called Accent, of one particular syllable, and the light utterance of the other, or others. The following words affard examples of accent:- A com' pound, to com-pound'
an ac'cent, to ac-cent'; blas'phe-mous, blas-phem'ing ; com-mand'er, com-mandant'; in'ter-dict, in-ter-dict'.
.$ 6. Pronunciation. By pronunciation, in its restricted sense, we understand the exact employment in utterance of the proper vowel and consonant sounds and accents, which custom has established. As leading authorities differ in their mode of expressing these sounds, and in the degree of importance they attach to nice shades of difference, great caro should be taken, in training the voice, to follow those models which the best usage has sanctioned.
§ 7. Unaccented Vowel Sounds. An easy utterance of the vowel sounds in unaccented syllables should be practiced. The e be. fore r in gov'ern, en'er-gy, lib'er-ty, in'ter-val, &c.; the unaccented i in ferivid, rul'bish, trop'ic, ec-cen'tric, &c., and the long u in pen'u-ry, cent'u-ry, reg'u-lar, ed'u-cate, &c., all marked, “obscure" by Worcester, must not be so regarded in practice if a correct enunciation is desired. “Those who wish to pronounce elegantly,” says Walker, “should be particularly attentive to the unaccented vowels, as a neat pronunciation of these forms one of the greatest beauties of speaking."*
ý 8. Errors of Pronunciation. Among the most common errors of pronunciation is the omission of one or more elements in a word; as sen's for sends, fuc's for facts, expec's for expects, ac's for acts, promp's for prompts, sof’ly for softly, his'try for history, int’rest for interest.
§ 9. It is a common error to substitute one vowel sound for another; as in saying set for sit, sence for since, jest for just, yis for yes, yit for yet, sullar for cellar, crik for creek; srill, sred, sriek, for shrill, shred, shriek; wen, wirl, wip, for when, whirl, whip; mornin', bringin', &c., for morning, bring. ing, &c.; piller, feller, &c., for pillow, fellow, &c.; heerd for heard (like herd); herth for hearth (as if harth); ware, tharefore, for were (wer), therefore (ther'fore); the short sound of 00, as in look, good, &c., for the long, – thus making the oo short in room, root, soon, &c., when it ought to be long, as in moon, proof, &c.
§ 10. Of words ending in el, -en, -il, -in, or -on, the cases where the anaccented vowel ought to be sounded, as in civ'il, sat'in, ros'in, as'pen, chick'en, kitch'en, trav'el, ten' don, &c., should be carefully discriminated from those in which it ought not to be sounded, as in ba'sin (ba'sn), rai'sin (ra'zn), cous'in (kuz'n), but'ton (but'n), c'vil (e'vl), ha'zel (ha'zl), often
* We subjoin a specimen of the reformed system of notation originally adopted in Sargent's New Pronouncing Spelling-Book, where those unaccented vowel sounds which have their quality essentially modified by the absence of accent, have the regular mark they would have if accented, but placed under instead of over the letter ; as, village, ri'val, nec'tar, en'e-my, fu'el, fer'vent, hér, o'ver, in'di-cate, di-rect', na'dïr, col'o-ny, i'vo-ry, word, vig'or, für, sul'phur, pen'ū-ry, nature. To indicate the modification caused by r after a long vowel, a slight alteration of the long mark is employed, as in färe, mère, tre, ore, cure.
(of'n), heavlen (her'n), elven (e'vn). For other words of this class, see Sargent's New Pronouncing Spelling-Book, pages 50, 51.
11. A common fault, because introduced by a defective notation in some of our dictionaries and spelling-books, is the separation of the long vowel sound before r (as in fare, mere, ire, ore, cure) into distinct parts, thus producing a dissyllabic effect. That separation of the vowel bound from the r, which we often hear in the first syllables of parent, Derious, wiry, porous, during, and the like (which are wrongly, though usuklly, referred in dictionaries to the same mode of pronunciation as the first syllables of valcant, secret, willy, ho'ly, cu'bic, &c.), was not common in this country until a misconception of Walker's intention in his notation. for the long vowel sounds brought it into vogue. The best speakers say pare'ent, sere'ious, pore'us, dureling, &c.
$ 12. A not uncommon fault is the attempt to give to certain letters or combinations their regular sound, although usage has introduced a modification to which all intelligent speakers conform. Thus we hear the ai in again pronounced as long a instead of short e, as it ought to be; the ee in been pronounced as long e instead of short i; the unaccented vowel sounded in even, heaven, evil, &c.; the u in minute (the noun) pronounced with its regular long sound instead of the sound of short i; apron, pronounced as written, instead of a'purn. These faults, as they exhibit either affectation or ignorance, ought to be shunned.
$ 13. The proper accentuation of words must be learnt from the dictionary. The tendency is to place the accent so that the word may be most rapidly enunciated. Some derivative words are frequently mispronounced on account of not being accented like their primitives; as chas'. tisement, main'tenance, com'parable, dis' putable, lam'entable. The secondary accent (here marked ") is sometimes placed upon a syllable which should properly have no accent, as in terri-to'ry; and sometimes it is improperly made to change places with the primary, as in all a-bas'ter, in'ter-est'ing (properly al'abaster, in'teresting).
$ 14. The vowel u, or the digraph ew, when it follows the sound of r or of sh is sometimes erroneously pronounced with the sound of long u instead of long 09. Do not say tr-yoo, dr-yoo (true, drew), but troo, droo.
$ 15. The sound of short 4 should not be interposed between that o a final m and that of l, s, or th which precedes it; as in saying hellum for helm, chaz'um for chasm, rhyth'um for rhythm.
6.16. The smooth r should not be trilled, as in saying faw-rm for form, wuh-rld for world ; nor should it be suppressed, as in saying faw for for, nus for nurse, fust for first, wus for worse ; nor sounded where it does not properly belong, as in saying lawr for law.
$ 17. Those words in which s has the sound of z should be carefully discriminated; as in disarm (diz-), flim'sy (-zy), greas'y (-2), na'sal (-zal), pos-sess (poz-zes'). See the Rules in Sargent's New Pronouncing Speller, pages 72, 73.
i 18. Words in which x has the vocal sound of gz should be discrimidated from those in which it has the aspirate sound of ks. X has its
sound of gx when it ends an unaccented syllable, and the next syllable, having the accent, begins with a vowel or the letter k; as in ex-act', em hort'. But ex'emplary (egz'-) and ex-ude (eks.) are exceptions.
$ 19. Words in which the digraph th has its aspirate sound, as in thin, should be discriminated from those where it has its vocal sound, as in breathe, beneath, with, underneath, lithe, paths. But truth retains its aspirate sound in the plural.
$ 20. Derivative words that have a short vowel in one syllable answering to a long one in the primitive are apt to be mispronounced ; as in saying hēlro-ine, hē'ro-ism for herlo-ine, hěrlo-ism; zealot for z_alot, &e.
§ 21. The sound of e long is sometimes wrongly interposed after one of the guttural consonants, k (or c hard) and g, preceding the sound of i; as in saying ke-ind for kind, skee-i for sky, gee-ide for guide.
In regard to the sound of long or diphthongal i (i), Cooley remarks : “When it occurs in the same syllable after g hard, k, or c hard, the faint sound, as of e, indicated in our notation by ('), is of necessity interposed between them during the separation of the organs in distinct utterance; as in guide (g'ide), guile (g'ile), disguise (-g'ize), kind (k'ind); but great care must be taken not to lengthen this sound into a separate e, as ke-ind, ge-ide, &c., a monster of pronunciation heard only on the stage or among affected and illiterate speakers. A similar interposed sound, but one very much fainter, occurs between ch and i, as in child (ch'ild), chime (ch'ime), &c., of which, however, the slightest exaggeration becomes vulgar and intolerable."
§ 22. Sound of a, as in ask, fast, &c. There is a class of syllables and words ending in af, aff, ant, as, ass, ast, ask, asp, with a few ending in ance and ant, in which a has a disputed sound. Among these words we quote the following : after, alas, bask, casket, castle, chaff, chance, clasp, class, contrast, dance, dastard, disaster, enchant, fust, gasp, glance, glass, grant, lance, mask, mastiff, nasty, pant, pass, pastor, pasture, olaster, quaff, rafter, repast, shaft, slander, slant, task, trance, vast, waft.
Both English and American authorities are at variance in respect to the sound of the a in these words. Among the former, Smart and Cooley maintain that well-educated people give the a its short sound as in and. Cooley (1862) says: The long Italian sound of a (as in father, far) “was formerly much used instead of ă (as in and), before the liquid n, particu. larly when followed by c, t, or d, in such words as dance, glance, lance, chant, grant, plant, slander, command, &c.; and before f and s, as in ask, class, glass, grasp, craft, graft, &c.; a practice now regarded, except in a very few words, as vulgar or provincial." * Cooley admits, however, that in command, demand, remand, &c., usage is divided, the Italian a (a in fur) · being "even now used in these words by many good speakers."
* Cooley remarks in a note : “ This sound (a in far), derived from our ancestors, is still retained in America, in many words in which it has long been obsolete or vulgar among ourselves. Thus, we have often been unable to discover, except by the context, whether an American speaker alluded to his aunt or to an ant."