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As the vowels are the most prominent elements of all words, as well as the most easily uttered, it is proper that they should constitute the first lesson.
a as heard in fate, main, say, they, feint, weigh, break, &c. "mat, hat, partial, &c.
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"bar, car, ah, vaunt, heart, guard, &c.
"ball, hall, cause, saw, broad, groat, sought, gone, &c.
"mine, pine, lie, fly, hight, guise, aisle, rye, &c.
pit, pin, mountain, forfeit, guilt, been, seive, busy. "old, go, door, roam, toe, soul, hollow, bureau, yeoman, &c. "not, hot, blot, trot, &c.
what, was, swap, &c.
move, prove, moon, soup, shoe, &c.
muse, blue, juice, hew, view, lieu, feud, beauty, &c.
full, pull, push, bush, &c.
wool, good, book, could, &c. "but, hut, cull, &c.
EXPLOSION OF THE VOWEL SOUNDS.
Each of the preceding elements can be uttered with great suddenness and force, so as to give a distinct expression of its sound, although the voice is suddenly suspended, the moment the sound is produced. This is done by expelling each sound from the throat in the same manner that the syllable "ah!" is uttered in endeavoring to deter a child from something it is about to do; thus, a'-a-a-. Let the pupil be required to explode from the throat, in this manner, every one of the elements, in the preceding table, with all possible suddenness and percussive force, until he is able to do it with ease and accuracy. This must not be considered as accomplished, until he can give each sound with entire clearness, and with all the suddenness of the "crack" of a rifle. Care must be taken to avoid all aspiration, as the sound of the vowel alone should be heard.
*Although these are properly compound sounds, they are classed here for the convenience of practice.
This exploding of the vowel sounds is an exercise of great importance and value in strengthening and developing the voice, but it is one that must be resolutely persevered in, without regard to its seeming absurdity, by those who wish to reap any advantage from it.
NOTE. After the pupil has been faithfully exercised in the foregoing table, it will be well to require him to explode all the vowel elements in one or more sentences of every lesson he reads.
It may, at first view, seem impossible to give the sound of a consonant without the aid of a vowel sound; but a few attempts will show, that although it may be difficult to unpracticed organs, it is not impossible. It is true, they can not be exploded with the force which vowel sounds admit, yet they can all, except the mutes, k, t, and p, be pronounced without the aid of vowels, and their sounds prolonged so as to give them great distinctness. Let the syllable ba be taken for example; and in pronouncing it, let the voice be suddenly suspended, before it passes to the vowel. In this manner every consonant element should be practiced upon, until the pupil can give the sound forcibly and distinctly. Without such practice it will be found impossible to utter with distinctness such combinations of consonants as the following, viz: waftedst, slumber'dst, search'dst, lash'dst, &c. Articulation is more frequently defective from an indistinct or imperfect enunciation of the consonant sounds, than from any other cause; and as many syllables are composed chiefly of consonant sounds, it is of the utmost importance that the student should master them. And may here be remarked for the encouragement of the pupil, that in reading or speaking to a large audience, he who explodes the consonants with accuracy and precision, will be heard and understood, even though his voice be weak; while the speaker who mumbles or slurs them, may put forth his utmost power of vociferation, and yet fail in his efforts to become distinctly audible. The following are the consonant elements susceptible of explosive force in a greater or less degree:
The mutes, k, t, and p, are omitted, because they produce an entire occlusion of the voice, and can not be sounded without the aid of a vowel. Q and w are also omitted, as the former has the same sound as k; and the latter is in fact a vowel, having the sound of oo.
When the pupil has acquired some facility in exploding the foregoing consonant elements, it will be found profitable to require him to combine with each of them, one of the vowel elements, giving the utmost prolongation to the consonant sound; thus, ab—b; eb—b; ib-b; ad-d; ed-d; id-d; &c., &c. Then let him go over the same exercise, placing the consonant first; thus, b-be; d-de; g―ga; m—mo; &c., &c.
If the foregoing elementary exercises be but faithfully and perseveringly practiced, the result-a well developed voice, and perfect control of the organs of speech,—will amply repay the labor.
IN THE COMBINATIONS OF THE CONSONANT ELEMENTS.
* He is a man of great sensibility and susceptibility.
The swallow twittered at the eaves.
Canst thou not be satisfied?
He begged to be permitted to stay.
They dragged the ruffian to prison.
Bursting his bonds, he sprang upon the foe.
He can not tolerate a papist.
Shot madly from its sphere.
When will the landscape tire the view?
The lightnings flashed.
The thunders roared.
The hail rattled.
His hand in mine was fondly clasped.
Stand your ground, my braves.
He gasped for breath.
I'll grapple with my country's foes.
His limbs were strengthened by exercise.
He has marshaled his hosts.
He selected his texts with great care.
The unsearched mine hath not such gems.
His lips grow restless, and his smile is curled half into scorn.
It will be seen that some of these sentences are selected with reference to the correction of the habit of dropping, or improperly sounding the unaccented
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
He has singed his hair.
What further wait'st thou for?
She milked six cows.
Give me a yard and three eighths.
Ha! laugh'st thou, Lochiel, my vision to scorn?
Vaunt'st thou thyself of thy strength?
Thou boast'st of what should be thy shame.
Thou pluck'dst a bitter fruit.
Disabl'dst, strangl'dst, burn'dst.
From depths unknown, unsearchable, profound,
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labors and the words move slow.
One blast upon his bugle-horn were worth ten thousand men.
Life's* fitful fever over, he rests well.
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Thou that dost scare the world with tempests set on fire,
Canst thou fill his* skin with barbed irons ?
* Beware of running words together.
The goings forth of Him whose potent arm
God journeyeth* in the heavens. Refulgent stars
QUESTIONS.-What is Webster's definition of Articulation? Of what are words made up? How are sounds represented in written language? What should be the first object of the student of elocution? What is said of the advantage of practice upon elementary sounds? Which are the vowels elements? Give examples of each. (Let the pupil explode them as directed.) What are the advantages of thus exploding the elementary sounds? Can the consonants be exploded? Which can not, and why? What is said of uttering the consonants distinctly? Repeat the consonant elements, and give an example of each. (Let the pupil explode them as directed.) What will be the result of faithful practice in these exercises?
I. Definitions and Examples.
INFLECTION is a bending, or sliding of the voice either upward or downward.
The upward, or rising inflection is marked by the acute accent, thus,
you call and in this case the voice is to slide upward; as, Did
Is he sick'?
The downward, or falling inflection is marked by the grave accent, thus, (\); and indicates that the voice is to slide downward; as, Where is London'? Where have you been'? Who has come'?
Sometimes both the rising and falling inflection are given to the same sound. Such sounds are designated by the circumflex, thus, (~), or (A). The former is called the rising circumflex; the latter, the falling circumflex.
When several successive syllables are uttered without either the upward or downward slide, they are said to be uttered in a monotone, which is marked thus, (-).
Beware of running words together.