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distinct articulation in music; for the stream of voice, which te me 50 easily on the vowels and half vowels, is interrupted by the one currence of a harsh consonant; and not only the sound, but the breath, is entirely stopped by a mute. In singing, for example, any syllable which ends with p, k, d, or t, all the sound must be uttered on the preceding vowel ; for when the organs come to the proper position for speaking the mute, the voice instantly ceases. This explains what sometimes has been thought a mystery, that stammering persons find little difficulty in reading poetry, and none in singing ;* whereas they stop at once in speaking, when they come to certain conconants. Anyone who would practically understand this subject, should recollect that the distinction between human speech, and the inarticulate sounds of brutes, lies not in the vowels, but in the consonants ; and that in a defective utterance of these, bad articulation primarily consists.
A second difficulty arises from the immediate succession of the same or similar sounds: as in the recurrence of the aspirates;
Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone: or the collision of open vowels;
Tho' oft the car the open vowels tire. But a greater difficulty still is occasioned by the immediate recurrence of the same consonant sound, without the intervention of a vowel or a pause. The following are ex. amples: “For Christ's sake.” “The hosts still stood.” “ The battle lasts still.” The illustration will be more intelligible from examples in which bad articulation affects the sense.
Wastes and deserts ;-Waste sand deserto.
He could pay nobody ;-He could pain nobody... Two successive sounds are to be formet here, with the organs in the same position; so that, without a pause between, only one of the single sounds is spoken; and the difficulty is much increased when sense or grammatical relation forbids such a pause.
* This is partly owing also to a deliberate metrical movement.
A third difficulty arises from the influence of accent. The importance which this stress attaches to syllables 'on which it falls, requires them to be spoken in a more full and deliberate manner than others. Hence, if the recurrence of this stress is too close, it occasions heaviness in utterance; if too remote, indistinctness. In the example,
And ten low words of creep in one dull line, the poet compels us, in spite of metrical harmony, to lay an accent on each syllable.
But the remoteness of accent in other cases involves a greater difficulty still; because the intervening syllables are liable to be spoken with a rapidity inconsistent with distinctness, especially if they abound with jarring consonants. Combinations of this kind, we have in the words communicatively, authoritatively, terrestrial, reasonableness, disinterestedness. And the case is worse still where we preposterously throw back the accent so as to be followed by four or five syllables, as Walker directs in these words, rèceptacle, pèremptorily, ačceptableness. While these combinations almost defy the best organs of speech, no one finds any difficulty in uttering words combined with a due proportion of liquids, and a happy arrangement of vowels and accents.
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main. A fourth difficulty arises from a tendency of the organs to slide over unaccented vowels. There is a large class of words beginning with pre, and pro, in which this seldom fails to appear. In prevent, prevail, predict, a bad articulation sinks e of the first syllable so as to make pr-vent, pr-vail, pr-dict. The case is the same with o in proceed, profane, promote ; spoken pr-ceed, &c. So is e 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-e-lous, 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. 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.”
In some parts of our country, 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, Laťn. 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.
It should be remarked that vowels not under the accent, are often uttered slightly by good speakers, where affectation, by trying to give them prominence, runs into a very faulty pronunciation. Thus, in attempting to distinguish e from i in such words as wicked, gospel, many pronounce them wickud, gospul, wickudnuss, &c. Unaccented vowels are often necessarily indistinct, e in wicked, having the same sound as i in it. So all the vowels, a, e, i, o, u, y, must often be spoken so as to have the sound of short w; as in scholar, master, satirist, doctor, martyr, pronounced scholur, mastur, &c.
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 caution is,--ascertain your own defects of articulation, by the aid of some friend, and then devote a short time statedly and daily, to cor. rect them. Let the reader make a list of such words and combinations as he has found most difficult to his organs, and repeat them as a set ex ercise. If he has been accustomed to say om-nip-etent, pop-e-lous pr-mote, pr-vent, let him learn to speak the unaccented vowels prop erly.*
. On stammering and impediments, which fall under the head of ar ticulation, the reader may find my views in the Analysis of Rhetorica Delivery
Description of Inflections. The absolute modifications of the voice in speaking are four; namely, monotone, rising inflection, falling inflection, and circumflex. The first may be marked to the eye by a horizontal line, thus, (-) the second thus, (o) the third thus, (1) the fourth thus, (TM).
The monotone is a sameness of sound on successive syllables, which resenibles that produced by repeated strokes of a bell. Unseemly as this is, where varied inflections are required, it more or less belongs to grave delivery, especially in elevated description, or where emotions of sublimity or reverence are expressed'; as,
He rõde upon à chērub and did flý.- I săw a great white throne, and him that sāt on it. . .
The rising inflection turns the voice upward, or ends higher than it begins. It is heard invariably in the direct question; as, Will you go to-dáy ?
The falling inflection turns the voice downwards, or ends lower than it begins. It is heard in the answer to a question; as, Nò; I shall go to-mòrrow. .
As the whole doctrine of inflections depends on these two simple slides of the voice, one more explanation seems necessary, as to the degree in which each is applied, under different circumstances. In most cases where the rising slide is used, it is only a gentle turn of the voice upward, one or two notes. In cases of emotion, as in the spirited, direct question, the slide may pass through five or eight notes. The former may be called the common rising inflection, the latter the intensive. Just the same distinction exists in the falling inflection. In the question, uttered with surprise, “ Are you going to-dày?” the slide is intensive. But in the following case, it is common, “ fame is but breath, as riches are trànsitory, and life itself is uncertain, so we should seek a better portion." To carry the rising slide in the latter case, as far as in the former, is a' great fault, though not an uncommon one.
The circumflex is a union of the two inflections, sometimes on one syllable, and sometimes on several. It begins with the falling, and ends with the rising slide; as, I may go tomorrow, though I cannot go to-dày. “They tell ŭs to be moderate ; but thěy, thěy, are to revel in profusion.” On the words marked in these examples, there is a significant twisting of the voice downwards, and then upwards, without which the sense is not expressed..
Besides these absolute modifications of voice, there are others which may be called relative, and which may be classed under the four neads of pitch, quantity, rate, and quality. These may be presented thus: Pitch, Shigh; Quantity, Shigh; tit loud; Pate S quick; Quality s lively.. soft; Rate, slow; Q?
19, ( pathetic. As these relative modifications of voice assume almost an endless variety, according to sentiment and emotion in a speaker, they belong to the chapter on Modulation.
Classification of Inflections. wyn In order to render the new classification which I have
given intelligible, I have chosen examples chiefly from colloquial language ; because the tones of conversation ought to be the basis of delivery, and because these only are at once recognized by the ear. Being conformed to nature, they are instinctively right; so that scarcely a man in a million uses artificial tones in conversation. And this one fact, I remark in passing, furnishes a standing canon to the learner in elocution. In contending with any bad habit of voice, let him break up the sentence on which the difficulty occurs, and throw it, if possible, into the colloquial form. Let him observe in himself and others, the turns of voice which occur in speaking, familiarly and earnestly, on common occasions.
As the difficulty of the learner at first, is to distinguish the two chief inflections, and as the best method of doing this, is by comparing then together, the following classification begins with cases in which the two are statedly found in the same connection : and then extends te cases in which they are used separately; the whole being marked in a continued series of rules, for convenient reference.