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with a copious vocabulary of synonyms, so that if he finds himself unable to utter a particular word, he may substitute some other in its place, and above all, he should be encouraged to exert the energy of his own mind, and assume a courageous command over himself. Let him do this, and if the evil be not entirely eradicated, it will at least be palliated in a considerable degree. To avoid stammering or stuttering, a person should always speak with an expiring breath. To do this, he must speak deliberately, and with the mouth sufficiently open to prevent the suppression of those sounds which are made by the proper exercise of the organs of speech. By strictly following this rule, namely, to speak with an expiring breath, the most inveterate cases of stammering may be effectually cured.
Why is it that persons afflicted with stammering, always avoid it in singing? It is because they utter the words deliberately, with a full supply of breath, and with the mouth open.
Whenever one reads or speaks, he should commence with a sufficient supply of breath, which he should renew at the intervals of all the pauses. Persons are not so apt to stammer in reading poetry as prose, because they are under a kind of necessity of taking breath both at the cæsural pause and the pause at the end of the line.
One very disagreeable imperfection of articulation is the guttural sound of the letter r. This imperfection is best overcome by removing the articulation from the throat to the proper organs, the tongue and the palate; and by practicing to continue the sound in its proper place, or rather nearer the teeth. This may be effected by forcing the breath between the palate and the tip of the tongue, and by causing the tongue to vibrate rapidly.
The hissing of the letter s, that reproach to our language, is, as far as possible, to be moderated, both by attention to composition and enunciation, and should not be exaggerated as some are found to do.
The letters m and n are also subject to be imperfectly sounded. Instead of passing the sound of m, when produced by closing the lips, entirely through the nose, it is stopped or resisted, apparently between the bony and cartilaginous part of the nose, and does not issue freely. This defect is called by a contradictory appellation, speaking through the nose, and is seldom difficult to remove. The sound of the letter n, when formed by pressing the upper part of the tongue against the palate, should also pass entirely through the nose, but more gently than that of m.
In its general combinations, imperfect articulation is not so disagreeable as when combined with the letter g. The words ringing, singing, sound as if the n was omitted, and are uttered most disagreeably, as if they were riggig, siggig. The defective articulation of both these letters may be successfully got over by attention and practice, except in cases where nature or accident may have denied the sounds a passage through the proper organ,
Pronunciation and Accent.
Pronunciation is the mode of enouncing certain words and syllables. By accent is understood the stress laid on particular syllables, or in a more extended sense, the tone or expression of voice with which sentences are delivered. nunciation varies with the modes and fashions of the times, it is sometimes so fluctuating in particular words, and high authorities are often so much at variance, that the most correct mode is hard to be determined: hence to acquire a correct pronunciation, this irregularity, whatever be the cause, must be submitted to. Accent is also subject to the caprice of fashion. Its effect on our syllables is either to lengthen or shorten their quantity. When the accent is placed on the vowel, the syllable is uniformly long, as glory, father: when placed on the consonant, if it be a mute, the syllable will be short, as battle, habit; if it be a liquid, the syllable will be long.
Emphasis. Emphasis discharges, in sentences, the same kind of office that accent does in words, ennobling the word to which it belongs, and presenting it in a stronger light to the understand ing. The necessity of observing propriety of emphasis is so great, that the true meaning of words can not be conveyed without it. Great attention should therefore be paid by the student or speaker in the discrimination of those sentences which, referring to some predominant idea, require to be emphatically, rendered.
Pauses and Breathing. The common pauses necessary to be made according to the rules of punctuation are so obvious, that a reader or speaker must be very careless, who offends against them. The ordinary pauses which are marked in writing serve principally for grammatical discrimination; but in public speaking, pauses somewhat different are introduced. These are termed the torical pauses, and require to be adjusted by correct judgment and feeling. They are placed either before or after important matter, in order to introduce or leave it impressed upon the memory with stronger effect.
The reading of verse requires certain pauses, which differ, in some measure, from the pauses used in reading prose. The first has been named the pause of suspension, or final pause, which takes place at the end of each line; in this pause there is not to be any inflection of the voice. The second is the cæsural pause, which divides the verse into equal or unequal portions; upon the right management of which the melody and harmony of versification in a great measure
depend. Mr. Sheridan's rules for reciting verse following:
1. All words should be pronounced exactly in the same way as in prose.
2. The movement of the voice should be from accent to accent, laying no stress on the intermediate syllables.
3. There should be the same observation of emphasis, and the same change of notes on the emphatic syllables as in prose.
4. The pauses relative to the sense only, are to be observed in the same manner as in prose.
The usual fault of introducing sing-song notes, or a species of chanting, is disagreeable to every ear, and should be studiously avoided.
The voice in speaking, as in singing, is observed to move within a limited compass, above or below which it can not move without disagreeable straining. But the mode of moving within this compass is different in each: the musical tones are placed at considerable intervals, which are passed by complete leaps; the speaking tones are at very small intervals, through which the voice slides by ascending or descending inflections. Certain favorable stations within the limits of the excursions of both are preferred for the pitch or key note; from whence the intervals are calculated, and to which the modulations are referred. The middle tones are most advantageous for this purpose, as well because the voice has the command of the tones both above and below, as that these tones are generally used in common discourse; and the organs must therefore be strengthened in them by habitual exercise.
Upon the proper pitching of the voice depends much of the ease of the speaker. He who shouts at the top of his voice is almost sure to break it, become a mere brawler, and stun his audience; he who mutters below, soon wearies himself, becomes inaudible, and altogether oppresses his hearers.
In order that a speaker may succeed in choosing the proper key or pitch of his voice, he should begin low, and ascend gradually till he reaches the pitch that suits the place and his own power best.
Quantity. Loud and soft tones are altogether different from high and low. Piano and forte have no relation to pitch or key, but to force and quantity, and when applied to the voice, they relate to the body or volume which the speaker or singer can give out. This depends upon the power of the lungs, and not upon the adjustment of the organs of articulation. A voice is powerful according to the quantity it is able to issue, and is soft or loud according to the quantity which it actually does issue.
Modulation, Variety, and Rate of Utterance. The modulation of the voice is the proper management of its tones, so as to produce grateful melodies to the ear. Upon the modulation of the voice depends that variety which is so pleasing, and so necessary to relieve and refresh the ear. The opposite fault is monotony. To the variety, so grateful to the ear, not only change of tones is requisite, but also change of delivery. According to the subject the rapidity of the utterance varies, as the time of the different movements in music. Narration proceeds equably; the pathetic, slowly; instruction, authoritatively; determination, with vigor; and passion, with rapidity.
The vital principle of the voice consists in those tones which express the emotions of the mind. Without this