the speaker's attempt to enunciate well, but rather from a fixed habit of choppy speech. With some people it is a matter of abrupt pronunciation of individual words, with little regard for their quantity, meaning, or position in the sentence; with others it is an abruptness occurring at the end of almost every phrase with a regularity that is decidedly detrimental to the thought.

The second fault is the result of a lazy use of the organs of articulation. There is no sharpness of contact of tongue, teeth, or lips, which is so essential to good articulation. Many individual sounds are unduly prolonged, and we hear for "liberty," "libert-e-e"; for "nation," "nation-n-n "; and sometimes it is a similar dragging of syllables and words, until the monotony becomes almost intolerable.

It would be difficult to say which of these faults is the more objectionable. Lazy speech is always tiresome, and choppy speech becomes after a time no less monotonous. It strikes the ear with a harsh regularity that is often harder to listen to than dragging tones, which have, at least, the virtue of a somewhat soothing effect.

A mode of enunciation that is overprecise or lax, choppy or slow, is usually a fixed habit that requires the same persistent effort to eradicate as does an improper habit of breathing or vocalization, and one to which nearly every student of speaking needs to give some attention. The beginner who employs thoroughly good enunciation is rare. There is usually a laxness, slowness, or “choppiness of speech that has to be overcome by careful practice of some kind. In the case of very bad habits that have been long fixed, hard work for weeks, and sometimes


for months, upon definite exercises is necessary. In other cases just the effort taken to enunciate distinctly, both in public speech and in conversation, is all that is needed. But every beginner should give the same careful attention to distinct enunciation that he would give to correct breathing, if necessary. It is altogether essential to effective speaking.

How to acquire good enunciation. The first step toward securing good enunciation is to learn to open the mouth. The utterance of sounds and syllables with stiff jaws gives little freedom, either to the organs with which the tone is produced or to those with which the tone is molded into syllables. They are more or less cramped, and the speaker labors under very apparent difficulty. All of this has to be obviated by getting the mouth open and giving the different organs an opportunity to act. Let the student attempt to speak with jaws tense and teeth close together and then with jaws free and the mouth well. open, and he will at once see the necessity of opening the mouth for speaking. If he has a noticeably stiff jaw definite exercises may be necessary. Then when there is freedom of all the organs that play a part in the articulating process, it is well to train them in producing the various individual sounds.

Exercises in the utterance of individual sounds are of much value in rounding out and giving a certain finish to one's enunciation. And then enunciation may be further improved by the practice of exercises in which all the sounds are employed. Careful enunciation of the vowel sounds and of the vowels and consonants in combination will accomplish this end.

The classification of vowel sounds made by Professor Alexander Melville Bell is the most authoritative and probably the best suited for the cultivation of enunciation by means of the free and open elements of our language.








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a- ask



e-eel Tense

i — ill Lax

a-ale Tense

ell Lax

a-air Tense

In order to gain an exact muscular impression of each vowel sound, there should be for each a definite formation of the articulatory organs and an attempt to observe just how each sound is formed, whether by the front, middle, or back of the tongue. Then the sounds may be practiced in combinations, thus:


ale aneel - pool - pull — pole — awl — ah Attention should be given in this practice to three things:

I. Practice in combinations of this kind should begin and end with a low-position vowel.

a-an Lax

2. An attempt should not be made to do the principal work of enunciation with the lower jaw.

3. There should always be good breath support for every tone.

The practice of individual sounds should include also the correct formation of the consonants; and it is usually advantageous to practice vowels and consonants in combination. Clear enunciation of consonant sounds depends upon the action of one articulating part against another. This should be done with precision and yet with delicacy of touch. In this the tongue is the determining factor, and particular attention should be given in practice of this kind to its cultivation. It should be rendered free and agile, so that in the enunciatory process there is none of the thick-tongued mode of utterance common with untrained and slovenly speakers. Let the student practice such combinations as "ah-ta-ta-ta," working for agility of the tongue and for that definiteness and yet delicacy of touch which is characteristic of good enunciation.


When a mastery has been gained over individual sounds, their use as they are combined into syllables should be given attention. All syllables have a certain individuality that cannot be disregarded in correct utterance. When they are jumbled together so that "statistics" becomes "st'istics"; correct," c'rect"; "generally," "gen'ly"; "really," "ree'ly," it is exceedingly annoying to a discriminating ear. Yet, while the syllables do have an individuality that makes it necessary to give to each a certain clear and definite touch with the voice, it is quite as important to remember that they have also a relationship that makes it necessary for them to be properly

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linked together, in order that they may not stand out in a way that makes the joints seem to be always protruding. It is the word as a whole, with all its parts clearly uttered yet carefully linked, that must always be the ideal of the cultivated speaker.

Then the larger groups, the words as they are combined into phrases and clauses, require the same careful practice in distinct utterance as do the individual sounds and syllables. Consecutive words must not be jumbled together in slovenly fashion. They must be properly related, while at the same time retaining their individuality just as do the syllables of which they are composed.

The speaker who is anxious to perfect his enunciation will do well to keep in mind the fact that clear speaking is a matter of habit more than anything else and that, if mastery is to be gained, good enunciation must be cultivated and employed at all times and not merely for special occasions. This is a matter of great importance to teachers in our public schools, inasmuch as the influence of the teacher over the pupils, in this respect, is very great. Pupils are likely to imitate the mode of utterance of their teachers, and often excellent enunciation is gained in the classroom merely by imitating a teacher who employs at all times clear and distinct speech.

The commercial importance of clear speaking. It is interesting to note the emphasis that is being placed upon clear speaking in the commercial world at the present time. Recently one of the largest business houses in the country issued a set of instructions to its employees. In these instructions one demand upon which great stress was laid was that all persons employed by that firm

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