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Without being able to analyze the difference, any one can also distinguish between the delivery in the ordinary reading of a newspaper or book, and that of ordinary conversation; this, too, when the style of the composition does not betray the difference ; for it can be determined by the tones, even when the words and sentences are not distinguishable. What, then, constitutes the difference between these two styles of delivery? In reading, the delivery is more uniform.
The pitch, the degree of force, the length and place of the pauses, vary but little. It is popularly called "monotonous," "inexpressive;" and where great force or loudness is employed this delivery is characterized as “declamatory," "heavy," "noisy," as "spouting," "preaching." A single word, then, variety, describes the distinguishing characteristic of conversational or speaking delivery. In speaking, the pitch, the kind of voice, the rate, the pause, and all other elements of delivery, are continually changing. It has the variability of life.
The ground of this variability is the way the mind acts. In reading, there is little differentiation of the thoughts : the emotion is unvaried. It is indeed, mainly, the emotion connected with a kind of chant, and closely associated with the sense of rhythm. In this form of expression the mind is less alert, and it runs along “ the line of the least resistance."
On the other hand, in conversation we have the original function, and also the very essence of all language. As spoken language precedes written language, so also the delivery of the unwritten word precedes the delivery of the written word. Moreover, the function of language is a social one, and hence presupposes one mind communicating with another, – indeed, one person thinking with another ; for in real conversation, thought and word are one.
In conversation, the expression is more spontaneous, more
direct. The sub-processes (that is, the processes producing voice and gesture) are held in their subordinate places. Mind appears to act more immediately upon mind without being conscious of the media of communication. The thought and feeling are created in the act of delivery.
With that other use of the word “reading,” meaning the expressional delivery of what another has composed, we are not at present concerned. Our purpose is rather to contrast reading with speaking; and to show that the former is mechanical, and the latter creative, or expressive, delivery.
This distinction between reading and speaking is the popular one. The majority of people dislike sermons that are read in contrast to those that are spoken. In this treatise, “speaking” includes the delivery of all forms of written or unwritten matter that creates the thought in the act of delivery.
“Reading” (that is, word-delivery or statistical representation of facts), requires only distinct enunciation of words, and, hence, expressional discipline is unnecessary. The purpose of all elocutionary practice aims at speaking as its legitimate goal.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS CONVERSATIONAL AT BASIS. According to this analysis, speaking, conversation, and extemporaneous delivery, are essentially the same. Each has the same property of variety. In each the mind acts with the same spontaneity and directness. Each, too, creates or re-creates the ideas at the point of delivery.
As distinguished from these, Public Speaking, according to the most approved delivery, may be further characterized as the heightened conversational. At basis it is simple, direct, spontaneous, varied, creative; but heightened in pitch, force, and in the other elements, as determined by the emotional content of the discourse. Corresponding to this, it is to be observed that “declamatory,” or “orotund,” delivery is
heightened reading. This form of reading-delivery also is to be avoided.
PREDOMINANT AND SUBORDINATE PROCESSES.
One of the difficulties in Public Speaking arises from the great number and variety of the processes. Some of these processes are predominant, and others are subordinate. Now, in all speaking, good or bad, the predominant processes are the ones that express themselves. Hence the importance of making the ideas to be communicated the predominant processes, and the means to this end the subordinate ones. Frequently, however, through lack of skill, the processes that should be subordinate become predominant ones. The speaker obviously puzzles over the grammar, the rhetoric, or the gesture of his address. At one time the speaker gives his main effort to discerning the words of his manuscript ; at another (as in memoriter delivery) he is absorbed in the labor of recalling the language. Instead, all of those operations of mind and body that may be regarded as means, are to be held in their places as subprocesses. The thought and feeling, together with the volitional attitude which the speaker intends to produce in the mind of the hearer, are always to be regarded as the predominant process; and hence should form the leading content of the speaker's mind.
THE MAIN PROBLEM.
The main problem before the student is to secure the right mental action. When this is done, the body responds.
First, the thought and feeling intended as the predominant process, and constituting the speech proper, or the matter of the address, is clearly, from beginning to end, the result of mental activity. This mastery of the ideas of the discourse constitutes the primary aspect of the Main Problem.
In the second place, voice and its various modifications,
gesture in short, the use of all of the instruments or means of communication constituting the subordinate processes, or the manner of the address, vaguely regarded by some as physical changes, are also the result of mental activity. We mean to say, in brief, that no one can produce a sound, or change a pitch, or make a gesture, without the action of the mind. The proper use of the voice and other agents of expression depends, therefore, upon right mental action, as fully as does the mastery of the ideas. Such proper use of the means constitutes the secondary aspect of the Main Problem.
For the solution of this Main Problem, both the subjective and the objective treatment are employed. The subjective treatment deals directly with the content of the mind; that is, with the thought and feeling.
The thought and feeling are analyzed and dwelt upon. Related ideas are brought forward ; and thus, by dealing with the factors of the mind directly, we seek to promote right mental action with reference to the subject-matter and its expression. This treatment is more fully developed under the chapter on “The Content of Language.”
In the objective treatment, however, we call attention to the agents (the chest, the mouth, the hands, etc.), and to the elements (emphasis, pitch, etc.), expressive of the thought and feeling
The objective treatment is based upon the fact that bodily states affect mental states; hence, by assuming the physical attitude, the corresponding mental state is initiated and promoted. We not only entreat the angry man not be angry, but also coax him to sit down and not speak so loudly; that is, to assume the act and attitude of composure. Practically, an emotion and its expression are one and the same thing. The emotion of the sublime, for instance, is developed by assuming the low pitch, measured time, and approximate monotone expressive of this emotion, This treatment,
reaching the mind by calling attention to the physical states, is the shorthand method of every-day life. Just as the child is told to "quit whining," and to “straighten out” his face, so also, in elocutionary training, we say, “Speak louder,” “Pause more frequently,” “Speak on a lower pitch."
The objective treatment, therefore, promotes not only the proper use of the agents and elements of expression, but also a mastery of the subject-matter, or the ideas in process of delivery. For instance, the intention to lift the voice to a higher pitch with increased ictus, as a means of rendering it emphatic, makes that word prominent, and hence emphatic in the mind. The mind, in turn, reacts upon the voice, and promotes that intention. The effect is reciprocal. Thus it is seen that the subjective and objective treatment are the two ways of promoting right mental action.
The discipline here recommended develops the power to think at the point of delivery, or to think through delivery, and also to master the technique or to use the instruments of Expression.
At the risk of being tedious to some, we will further illustrate the subjective and objective treatment.
“ The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.”
The subjective treatment of this sentence requires that the student understand the history of the psalm of which it forms a part, the occasion and method of its use as an antiphonal psalm in the temple service; dwell upon each word; analyze the thought; especially, develop the emotional content of the sentence. The feeling is one of majesty, of triumph, and splendidly sublime. Notice, according to the method of Hebrew poetry, that the second clause repeats the idea of the first, and hence is not differentiated as a new thought. In short, apply the method of the chapter on “ The Content of Language.”