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A child should first be exercised on a single lesson, until he can name all the words at sight, care being taken that he shall understand what he reads, and then he should be instructed to give the proper inflection and emphasis, (which, before bad habits are formed, he will readily do,)-and when this is accomplished, and not before, he may be permitted to pass on to another lesson.
But if a heavy and monotonous manner has become habitual, it can only be remedied by going somewhat to the other extreme, and reducing every thing to the standard of inflection and emphasis furnished by animated conversation. This must be patiently persevered in. Neither teacher nor pupil should be discouraged, if, at first, the attempt at increased propriety of articulation and inflection should result in a style of reading only a little less artificial than the one they are endeavoring to break up. Let them PERSEVERE, until a correct habit has been formed, and nature will show herself, and all stiffness and formality will ultimately disappear.
All that can be accomplished within the limits of a work like this, is to point out the errors and improprieties into which the pupil is most likely to fall, and to furnish the more important rules for his guidance, with illustrations and copious examples for his practice. The intelligent teacher will find new examples in every lesson, and by constantly referring his pupils to the prin ciples here laid down, and illustrating them in new and attractive ways, may render their application easy and habitual.
The subject of Elocution, so far as it is deemed applicable to a work of this kind, will be considered under the following heads, viz :
3. ACCENT AND EMPHASIS,
4. INSTRUCTIONS FOR READING VERSE,
5. DIRECTIONS FOR THE CULTIVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF THE VOICE.
QUESTIONS.-What is the first step to be taken in forming the habit of correct reading? How are faults in articulation generally contracted? How are these to be corrected? How is a monotonous style often formed? How is it to be avoided? After it has become habitual, how is it to be remedied? What is it designed to accomplish in the present work? Name the different heads under which the subject of Elocution is to be considered.
I. Faults to be remedied, and Exercises.
BEFORE passing on to the rules and exercises, by means of which it is hoped the pupil will be able to acquire a good articulation, it will be proper to point out a few of those improprieties, into which a careless or badly taught reader or speaker is most likely to fall.
The most common and objectionable are the following, viz:
1. Dropping, or sounding too slightly the unaccented vowels, and such as have only the secondary accent; thus, com-pa-ny is incorrectly pronounced comp❜ny.
2. Similar to the preceding fault is that of incorrectly sounding the unaccented vowel; thus, par-tic-u-lar is incorrectly pronounced per-tik-e-lur.
In the following sentences, the vowels most likely to be dropped or incorrectly sounded are put in italics.
He attended divine service regularly.
This is my particular request.
He graduated at one of the Eastern Universities.
She is universally esteemed.
George is sensible of his fault.
This calculation is incorrect.
His fears were justified by the event.
What a terrible calamity.
I will support the Constitution of the United States.
The whole nation lamented him.
His eye through vast immensity can pierce.
He is a formidable adversary.
I will go and be reconciled to my brother.
A tempest desolated the land.
His reputation is ruined.
He preferred death to servitude.
God is the author of all things visible and invisible.
He is a man of eminent merit.
Expect not my commendation.
He has contracted a bad habit.
Tell me the difference between articulation and utterance.
3. Another very common fault is that of suppressing the final consonants, or failing to give them sufficient distinctness.
John an' James are frien's o' my father.
Boun' han' an' foot.
Gi' me some bread.
Tuf's o' grass.
The want o' men is occasioned by the want o' money.
Beas' an' creepin' things were foun' there.
Thrus' thy sickle into the harves'.
Thou has' thousan' frien's on thy side.
He learned to write.
Did you find any birds' nests?
He made his meal of an apple and an egg.
He entered the lists at the head of his troops.
ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
I regard not the world's opinion.
He has three assistants.
Thou thoughtest that I was such a one as thyself.
She trusts too much to servants.
He halts between two opinions.
That race of animals is extinct.
He chanced to see a bee hovering over a flower.
4. A fourth impropriety consists in omitting or mispronouncing whole syllables. This generally occurs in long words, and in those syllables which are not under the accent.
He devoted his attention chiefly to literary pursuits.
He is a miserable creature.
He is a venerable man.
His faults were owing to the degeneracy of the times.
The manuscript was undecipherable.
The confederacy continued for many years.
His spirit was unconquerable.
It was a grand accompaniment.
Luther and Melancthon were cotemporaries.
Great industry was necessary for the performance of the task.
5. Another very great fault in articulation, is that of blending the end of one word with the beginning of the next.
I court thy gif sno more.
Bag sof gold.
Han d'me the slate.
The grove swere God sfiir stemples.
This worl dis all a fleeting show.
For man' sillusion given.
My hear twas a mirror, that show' devery treasure.
The magistrates ought to arrest the rogues speedily.
He went over the mountain.
Linked to thy side, through every chance I go.
But had he seen an actor in our days enacting Shakspeare.
What awful sounds assail my ears?
We caught a glimpse of her.
Crowded houses and new pieces.
Old age has on their temples shed her silver frost.
That beauty shall bind on the brow of the brave.
QUESTIONS.-What is the first source of defective articulation that is named? Give examples. What is the second? Give examples. Name the third, and give examples. What is the fourth? Give examples. Describe the fifth fault, and illustrate by examples.
II. Directions for acquiring a good articulation, and exercises. WE now pass to the consideration of those methods by which improprieties, like those already pointed out, may be avoided, and a distinct and forcible articulation acquired.
Articulation is defined by Webster to be, "The forming of words by the human voice." Words being made up of one or more sounds, represented in written language by letters, the first object of the student of elocution should be, to acquire the power of uttering all those elements with distinctness and force for if the elementary sounds are but imperfectly formed, the entire word must be indistinct. Practice upon these elementary sounds should be persevered in, until the learner has acquired a perfect control of his organs of speech. This exercise is one of great importance, especially to those who design becoming public speakers as, in addition to the habit of correct articulation thus formed, it imparts a strength and efficiency to the voice, which can not be acquired in any other way.