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ARTICULATION is defective when one or more elements of a word are omitted, or imperfectly formed; or when one element is substituted for another.
Defective articulation is exceedingly common: perhaps there is not one individual in ten thousand whose articulation is perfect. This arises from the neglect of a proper gymnastic training of the organs of speech in childhood. As soon as children are capable of imitating sounds, they should be taught the elements of vocal language; and, to facilitate their acquisition of this knowledge, they should be made to exercise before a mirror, so as to compare-the movements of their own lips with those of the lips of their instructor. By pursuing this course, a good foundation will be laid for a perfect and graceful articulation.
In that part of this work which consists of EXERCISES IN READING AND DECLAMATION, all, or nearly all, the letters representing sounds liable to be omitted, or imperfectly articulated, are italicised. Hence it is not necessary to furnish examples, and treat of the subject minutely, in this place. There are, however, some instances of defective articulation, which are not pointed out by the italic letters — these are so important that they deserve special notice. I allude to those cases in which one element is substituted for another. The remainder of this chapter will be devoted to their consideration.
Children are apt to substitute the sound of d for that of g in gay; and the sound of t for that of k, or c in cat. Thus, for gay, they say day; for cake, tate, &c.
To enable the pupil to correct these faults, I explain to him the manner in which the sounds of
and k are
produced — they are formed by pressing the root of the tongue against the soft palate, and not, like d and t, by pressing its tip against the gums of the upper incisors. I then direct him to pronounce,
the elements, d, g, and t, k, and the syllables da, ga, and ta, ka, thus:
d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g; d, g.
t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k; t, k.
ta, ka; tả, bả; ta, kả ; ta, ka; te, kề ; tẻ, kệ ; &c. The object of this exercise is to contrast the substituted sound with the correct one.
When this plan does not prove successful, I open my mouth as widely as possible, so that the tip of the tongue cannot touch the gums of the upper teeth, and request the pupil to open his in like manner. I then direct him to pronounce, after me, the following syllables :
gå, gå, gå, gå ; ge, ge; gl, gi; go, go, go; gů, gů, gů; gou. ka, kå, kå, kå; kė, kè; kl, ki ; ko, kỏ, kồ; ků, ků, ků; kou. åg, ég, ig, og, úg, oug; âk, ék, lk, ók, úk, ouk.
When neither of these schemes proves successful, I request the pupil to press his tongue downwards, and backwards, with his index finger, while I do the same, and pronounce, after me, the syllables in the preceding exercise. This I have never known to fail.
Some children omit the element 2, when it follows d, and the element sh when it follows t; for instance, they pronounce John, don, and Charles, tarles, &c.* My method of correcting these defects is to contrast the false pronunciation with the true one, as in the following exercise :
dà, džå; då, džả; då, džå; då, džå; dė, džè; &c.
* J is a compound of d and z in azure; and ch is equivalent to tsh.
The v and w are confounded by some perons; for instance, when they would say vine, they say wine, and vice versa. An attention to the proper postures of the mouth, in the production of these elements will soon enable the pupil to correct this fault.* (See postures of the mouth, page 28.) The following exercise, founded on the principle of contrast, should be frequently practised by the pupil, in the most energetic
va, wà ; vả, wả ; vả, wả ; vẫ, wã; ve, we; về, wẻ; &c. wà, và; wå, vå; wå, vå; wå, vå; wè, vè; wė, vė; &c.
In correcting faults in articulation, I often find it advantageous to exercise the pupil before a mirror, that he may observe the contrast between the movements of his own mouth, and those of mine.
Lisping is the substitution of the sound of th for that of some other letter, generally for that of s in sin. Thus the words, sale, send, sight, song, &c., are pronounced thale, thend, thight, thong, &c.
The lisper should be told, that, in forming the sound of th, the tip of the tongue is pressed gently against the inner surface of the upper incisor teeth; whereas, in forming that of s, it is placed, in like manner, against the gums
of the upper incisor teeth. Hence, to avoid making th for s, the tongue should be drawn back a little, and its point turned upward against the gums of the upper teeth. In the correction of lisping, the following exercise may be practised with advantage:
thà, sà ; thả, sả ; thả, sả ; thả, sâ; thè, sẽ ; thẻ, thề ; &c.
* A young gentleman recently entered my institution who had many faults in his utterance. Among others was the singular one of pronouncing vw for v: for vine, he said vwine; for vale, vwale, &c. This, as well as the other numerous faults with which his pronunciation was marred, arose from the want of proper instruction upon the use of the organs of speech.
The defects of articulation, in which one element is substituted for another, are numerous; but, as the method of treatment is similar in all, it is presumed enough has been said to enable the teacher to manage them successfully, particularly as appropriate exercises, for most of them, will be found in the practical part of this work.
STAMMERING is a functional derangement of the organs of speech, which renders them incapable, under certain circumstances, of promptly obeying the commands of the will.
In a majority of cases, the cause of this affection operates through the medium of the mind.
Stammering is cured by a regular course of hygienic elocution. But, as the disease exists under a variety of forms, it requires a variety of treatment. And, as the treatment is medico-elocutional, he who would apply it successfully, must unite the skill of the elocutionist with that of the physician. The idea that nonmedical men are capable of discharging the duties of applying the remedies to complicated complaints of the human body, is a sui generis in logic, and a bane in the practice of the healing art.
As a full consideration of the subject of stammering is not compatible with the design of this work; and, as I am preparing for publication another which will treat exclusively of impediments of speech, I shall conclude the present chapter with the following
Remarks on Stammering, from a Lecture on Elocution,
delivered before the American Lyceum, May 6, 1837, by Andrew Comstock, M.D.
For the last ten years the author of these REMARKS has been engaged in an investigation of the philosophy of the