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in enunciating the vowels. Often they are spoken with slight regard for their quantity, either of vocality or of time, and frequently they are not spoken at all. Every vowel, having a share in the sound of a word, should receive a definite stroke of the voice, sometimes slight, to be sure, but nevertheless audible. If all syllables were accented, it is likely that we should bave little cause for saying much about the utterance of vowels. The unaccented vowels are the ones neglected.
When one speaks to a single individual, most of one's attention is given to that person, but, if others gather about to listen, the attention is directed to them also. While one member of the group may receive more attention than the rest, none is ignored. To turn one's back on one of the number would be rude and discourteous. Now, attention in the utterance of words is analogous in some respects to that given to a small group of people one is addressing. A word of one syllable, when standing alone, is usually treated with due respect, but when several syllables are combined to form a word, the less important ones receive relatively slight attention and sometimes, because of haste or thoughtlessness, none at all. No special effort to give the vowels their proper quantity is necessary in speaking such words as call. fall
note lay count balm
prove pose But when an unaccented syllable is prefixed to the word, some effort may be necessary, and the speech of many per. sons would be more distinct and intelligible if the effort were consistently made. Speak this next list of words with attention to the unaccented syllables, as well as to the accented.
Try the following words, in which two unaccented syllables precede the accented. Be careful to sound all the vowels.
disavow' disapprove contradict
misconstrue' disappear intervene Unaccented syllables following an accented are no less subject to neglect. Sound both syllables in voice'less low'ly count'ing coun'ty
ar'my right'ly city in'fant cop'ied fan'cied
for ty need'y need'ed slight'ed con'scious Unstressed syllables preceding and following the accented syllable afford a good test of one's accuracy and habits of enunciation. impor'ted deject'ed
unques'tionable reconcilia'tion intelligibil'ity intellectual'ity fortitu'dinous Practice the following list of words, being careful to sound all the vowels and to give to each its normal quantity. Go over the list often, until careful and accurate habits of enunciation are formed.
mal-ad-min-is-tra'-tion 7 2. The consonants. Consonants are the more closed elements of spoken language. The tone, instead of being allowed to pass out freely and with considerable resonance, as in making the vowels, is more or less obstructed or temporarily held in check by the action of tongue, teeth, or lips. The position of these organs in forming the different consonants need not be explained here. Such instruction is available in the best dictionaries. Ś Clear, accurate, and distinct utterance of the consonants> requires free and nimble action of tongue and lips. Any one may acquire this, as the pianist, by long practice, gains agile, responsive action of fingers and hands. Distinctness of speech is a matter of diligence and patient effort.
While a good deal of benefit may be derived, no doubt, from the repetition of difficult and more or less artificial, tongue-twisting combinations of consonants, such as “ Theophilus Thistle, the successful thistle sifter,” such practice is apt to result in labored and conscious effort. Since consonants are combined with vowels to form syllables, the realization of the importance of uttering all syllables,
whether stressed or unstressed, as illustrated in the list of words given above, will do much toward removing careless habits of enunciation. Tongue, teeth, and lips will be more ready to do their work when their duty is clear.
Combinations of different consonants and vowels, like ka-ta, ga-ga-ga, va-la, ta-la, fa-la, po-pa, practiced rapidly and with nimble action of tongue and lips, will be found helpful as exercises for control and agility of the organs of enunciation.
3. Pronunciation. In closing this brief consideration of some of the technical problems of speech, a word about pronunciation is not inappropriate. While the pronunciation of our language is continually undergoing change, there is, nevertheless, a certain usage or standard of utterance in accent, and sound, and quantity of the vowels, which passes as current and cultured speech everywhere. It is hardly necessary here to urge the importance of con- ! forming to the accepted manner of pronouncing the words of our language. That is self evident to all who have ears to hear. But it may not be amiss to offer a suggestion or two which, it may be, will prove helpful to the reader.
Persons accustomed to much silent reading are sometimes embarrassed to find, when called on to read aloud, that they are unable to pronounce certain words, familiar to their vision and clear to their understanding, but unfamiliar to the tongue or the ear. Those whose sight knowledge of language is more accurate than their ear and speech knowledge, may increase the latter and gain accuracy of pronunciation by following the practice of frequently reading aloud, and, while doing so, of taking note of all words about which doubt is felt. It is also helpful to carry a notebook in which unfamiliar words met in one's reading, as well as those pronunciations one hears during the day and is uncertain about, may be jotted down. The
pronunciation of words so listed should be looked up in the dictionary. Though authorities do not agree on the pronunciation of many common words, the dictionaries are the reliable records of current usages and should be freely con
sulted. About the best advice one can offer is, give atten+ tion to the language and pronunciation of agreeable speak
ers, watch your own speech, and when in doubt consult the dictionary.1
EXERCISES IN ENUNCIATION AND PRONUNCIATION The following selections offer good general practice for distinct and correct enunciation and pronunciation:
1. Nor ever yet had Arthur fought a fight
Like this last, dim, weird battle of the west.
Oaths, insult, filth, and monstrous blasphemies,