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known by the manner of his speech. One can never get far away from one's self in speech, whether the speaking be limited to one's own thoughts or to the thought of a poem or piece of prose. Effort to express what one does not feel, to appear to be what one is not, deceives no one so much as the speaker.
But in one respect, at least, the manner of speech has a mechanical basis, and depends upon mechanical processes, which in time, by dint of much practice and use, become automatic and habitual. The use and control of the voice as an instrument of expression is largely acquired by deliberate effort. It is something each individual must learn, from the easy management of breath to the formation of tone into words. A bad voice, with abnormal methods of using it, while perhaps not fatal to good speech, seriously impairs its effectiveness and is a handicap to the possessor. Crudities in pronunciation and faulty enunciation of consonants and vowels betray ignorance or carelessness on the part of the speaker. Pleasantness, ease, grace, and accuracy of speech result from right training, right example, good habits, and care. Fortunate is the person who, from the first, has heard careful and cultured speech and has been trained to speak the language correctly and gracefully.
But however great the need may be in the matter of use of the voice, and formation of tone into words, these things should not receive first consideration in expression work. They are but incidental to the main purpose, and may appropriately receive attention as the demands of reading may
indicate. In oral as well as written expression, thought, not style, is of prime consequence. We speak to get something said, not to show how well we can speak. The manner of speech, though important, is, after all, secondary to the matter spoken.
Nor is an effective manner of speech to be acquired from
without by imitation of others or by studious observation of rules. The laws of expressive speech take their rise from the nature of man. Likewise, the causes of weak, faulty, inexpressive speech are to be traced to the nature and mental habits of the individual. In a sense each person carries his own laws and rules of speech with him. Only untrained faculties, undisciplined latent powers, faulty habits and mannerisms, unresponsive and uncontrolled agents of expression, render expression inadequate, peculiar, ineffective. If the mind were perfectly trained to concentration and clear thinking, the imagination and emotions active, strong, and normal, and the voice perfect as an instrument and obedient to every shade of thought and feeling, there would be little need for the study of expression. But until this happy condition is attained the study of expressive speech will remain one of the most effective means of educating all the faculties of our nature.
It is to purposeful and spirited conversation, conversation in its widest range of expression as exemplified by the speech of people in general, that we must look for the principles that underlie expressive reading or effective speech of any kind. It is the most common, spontaneous, unpremeditated form of communication. In conversation the speaker presumably has something to say, without having given studious care to the way it is to be spoken; the desire to speak leads the thought out, and voice and body obey the impulse as best they may. Though they are often hampered by weaknesses, wrong habits, mannerisms, and misuse, the influence of thought and feeling tends to direct their action in the right way. From conversation we may learn the vocabulary of tone by which spoken language is given its peculiar significance and force.
Now, reading aloud is nothing more nor less than the application to written language of the natural laws of vocal expression, as revealed in conversation. Good reading is not to be acquired by following rules. It would be as reasonable to dictate to a writer what words he should use in setting down his thoughts, as to lay down awsolute rules of tone for expressing certain kinds of thought and emotion. The modulations of the voice are combined by different indi. viduals in infinite variety for the expression of thought. But without knowledge of what constitutes good reading and the elements of it, and without the skill to detect faults and mannerisms and weaknesses and attribute them to their causes, there can be little growth in the power to speak and read aloud.
Observation and analysis have shown that certain modula. tions of the voice — such, for example, as inflection and accentuation — are directly related to the mind and reveal the process of thinking, while others — like tone-quality and pitch-bear an intimate relation to the imagination and emotions. Every change of the voice means something and conveys some impression to others of the thought and feeling of the speaker. Now, the absence or weak use of any of these modulations in reading aloud, or in any form of speaking, may be attributed to mental or emotional causes. Faulty and inadequate expression is apt to be the result of lax and inadequate thinking. Correct the thought, arouse interest, awaken the mind to clear, vigorous action, and the speech will take care of itself pretty well. A well-trained voice is a valuable asset, but it is incidental to a well-trained mind and controlled feelings. All the examples and exercises found in the following pages should be practiced as exercises in thought-getting and thought-giving. In this way the study of vocal expression becomes a study, not of external mechanics of speech, but of the inner conditions of thought and life upon which all natural speech depends. The study of the principles of expressive speech will pro. vide criteria for judging the student's understanding and appreciation of what he reads, and his interest in communicating it to others; it will help the teacher to detect and to correct lax, careless, and faulty habits of thinking; it will make clear the intimate connection between thought, feeling, and voice; and it will make obvious the truth that excellent reading is the result of excellent thinking, clear understanding, and the vigorous play and exercise of the imagination and the emotions.