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“ 4thly. I atterly dissuade you from the use of all Speakers,* as they are called, or those books containing specimens of the different styles of composition, such as didactic, vehement, mournful, animated, &c. The human feelings cannot thus change into so many varied and even opposite states in the course of a few pages. Your pupil cannot feel those different passages from different authors, he therefore cannot read them well. Finding this to be the case, were you to compel him to try, he would imitate feeling, and this would be to teach him a lesson in deception. He would succeed wretchedly after all; nothing being so frigid as forced feeling. Rather let him read to you some story or history continuously one day after another; then he will become interested in its details, and his voice and manner will, insensibly to himself, vary sufficiently to constitute good reading. The more he feels what he is reading with a genuine, unsophisticated emotion, the better he will read."
PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR BEGINNERS.
ARTICULATION. To habituate children to a clear, distinct, and easy ARTICULATION, the method practised by Pestalozzi will be found most effectual. This method has been described in page 17 of this Introduction. It is almost unnecessary to observe that it is the power of articulation which constitutes the great difference between the human voice and that of the lower
animals. They can only utter inarticulate or indistinct sounds; but man, as the poet Homer has long since described him, is “an articulately-speaking animal.” The great iniportance of a just and clear articulation is, therefore, obvious. In fact, it would be impossible for us either to read or speak well if our articulation be defective. In some cases, bad articulation arises from defects in some of the organs of speech. For example, if the tongue be too large or too small, the lips too thick or too thin, the teeth too closely set or too few in number, the articulation must, in any of these cases, be defective. In nine cases out of ten, however, it will be found that bad articulation arises from the careless and indistinct modes of utterance to which so many children are habituated in their early years. The plan of Pestalozzi was therefore an excellent one. In fact, it is only in youth, when the organs of speech are peculiarly pliant and imitative, that a just, and distinct, and natural articulation can be acquired. The difficulty which a grown-up person feels in learning to speak a foreign language is an illustration of this.
* We do not agree with’all the opinions expressed in this paragraph. It is only the artificial system of teaching to read we are opposed to. So far we disapprove of the use of Speakers.
It is in the consonant sounds that articulation essentially consists; and hence, the pupil should be well exercised in pra nouncing such sounds, particularly those which he finds diffi. cult to his organs.
But, as it must be irksome even to children to dwell upon unmeaning sounds, they should, after a few preparatory exercises, proceed to the pronunciation of such words and phrases as the teacher may think suitable for the purpose. All words of difficult or peculiar pronunciation should be brought before the pupils in this way. Short sentences, too, in which such words occur should be selected for the same purpose.
Such examples as the following will furnish the teacher with materials for practical exercises in articulation. The difficulty in such cases obviously arises, not from the pronunciation of the words themselves, but from their position in the sentence. + J. Wastes and deserts.
Waste sand deserts. 2. Look on this spot.
Look on this pot. 3, Goodness centres in the heart. Goodness enters in the heart. 4. Luxurious soil.
Luxurious oil. 5. Chaste stars.
Chased tars. 6. Such a notion exists.
Such an ocean exists. 7. To obtain either.
To obtain neither. 8. He discovered an egress there. He discovered a negress there. 9. His cry moved me.
His crime moved me. 10. The same arrow.
The same marrow. 11. A sad dangler.
A sad angler. 12. A languid dame.
A languid aim. In such combinations as the preceding (and they are of frequent occurrence) the sound of the final syllable of the word that precedes is the same as the initial sound of the word which follows, and hence arises a practical difficulty in pronunciation. For it is difficult to pronounce the same or similar sounds in succession, when no pause can be admitted between them for
* A good ARTICULATION consists in giving every letter in a syllable its due proportion of sound, according to the most approved custom of pronouncing it; and in making such a distinction between the syllables of which words are composed, that the ear shall, without difficulty, acknowledge their number, and perceive at once to which syllable each letter belongs. Where these points are not observed the articulation is proportionably defective. A good articulation is to the ear in speaking, what a fair and regular hand is to the eye in writing; and exactness in sounding the words rightly corresponds to propriety in spelling.– Sheridan.
the necessary re-adjustment of the organs. Hence, in such cases, we seldom hear more than one of the sounds which, as the preceding examples show, must often lead to a misapprehension of the meaning intended.
The compass and power of the voice may be greatly extended and increased by exercising it in giving a slow, distinct, and prolonged pronunciation to the vowel sounds, particularly the open vowels. The pupils should, therefore, be well exercised in the repetition of such sounds. Examples, such as the following, are well suited for the purpose. They are taken from the language of military command, or are orders addressed to persons supposed to be at some distance from the speaker. The words in italic contain the vowel sounds, which the pupils should accustom themselves to swell and prolong to the utmost pitch of their voice.
1. Then take defiance, death, and mortal war.
Attack the murderers of your lord.
Behold the foe at hand. 12. Hence! home, you idle creatures -get you home.
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things. 13. Revenge ! Revenge ! Timotheus cried. 14. Charge, Chester! Charge! On, Stanley! On! 15. Soldiers ! stand firm, exclaimed the British Chief. 16. The combat deepens, On, ye brave !
Who rush to glory or the grave.
* In such cases the sense forbids a pause between the words.
+ A man of indistinct utterance reads this sentence:-"The magistrates ought to prove a declaration so publicly made." When I perceive that his habit is to strike only the accented syllable clearly, sliding over others, I do not know whether it is meant, that they ought to prove the declaration, or to approve it, or reprove it, for in either case he would speak only the syllable prove. Nor do I know whether the magistrates ought to do it, or the magistrates sought to do it.Dr. Porter.
17. Angels! and ministers of Grace! defend us. 18. Wo, wo, wo, to the inhabitants of the earth! 19. Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be required of thee. 20. And he cried and said, Father Abraham! Have mercy upon me.
By such exercises as the preceding it is obvious that the articulation of young persons may be greatly improved, and, in fact, rendered perfect, if not organically defective. But in teaching children to form a habit of clear and correct articulation, great care should be taken to prevent them from falling into a measured and pedantic manner of speaking or reading, which an over distinctness in pronunciation would naturally and insensibly lead to. To avoid this (which would be the opposite, and scarcely a less fault) they should be accustomed to give every syllable in a word, and every word in a sentence, the degree of distinctness and force which each of them is naturally entitled to, and no more. To effect this, the pupil should be instructed in and made quite familiar with, the nature of ACCENT and EMPHASIS.--See page 32.
• To give every syllable in a word, and every word in a sentence, an equal degree of distinctness and force would be obviously and absurdly wrong. It would, also, be equally wrong to give a syllable or a word more or less distinctness or force than it ought to have. Any approach to such a habit of pronunciation, either in speaking or reading, savours of pedantry and affectation. And yet how often do we hear even learned personages committing such errors. For example, “You are the man of all the world whom I rejoice to behold.” In this sentence the unaccented syllables and unimportant words are pronounced with too much distinctness or force. Such a mode of pronunciation might be called the Sir-Forcible-Feeble style.
On this subject Sheridan observes :-“There are few who either read aloud or speak in public, that do not transgress this law of accent, by dwelling equally upon different syllables in the same word; such as, for-túne, ná-túre, 'con'-jec'-túre, en'-croach-ment', &c. But this is not uttering words but syllables, which, with us, are always tied together by an accent; as fortune, náture, conjecture, encroachment, &c. Any habit of this sort gives an unnatural, constrained air to speech, and should therefore be carefully avoided. This has been chiefly the vice of the Stage, and has principally given rise to the distinction of what is commonly called theatrical declamation, in opposition to that of the natural kind." In some it rises from a mistaken notion that words are rendered more distinct to a large assembly by dwelling longer upon the syllables which compose them; and in others, that it adds to the pomp and solemnity of public declamation, in which they think every thing ought to be different from private discourse."
SHORT DIRECTIONS FOR YOUNG READERS.
1. When you read, hold up your head and stand still, with your face towards the person who hears you.
2. Take great care to pronounce every word, and every syllable articulately, that is, fully and distinctly. In order to do this, you must open your mouth freely, and speak delibe
3. Let your voice be neither too high nor too low, but in that natural pitch which the subject and the occasion require.
4. Take your time, and mind your stops ;t and be sure to make no stops where the sense admits of none.
5. Pronounce the final syllables of words, and the closing words of sentences distinctly and audibly.
6. Let the tones of your voice in reading be the same as if you were speaking.
7. Slide your voice over the particles and less important words; such as, a, the, but, if, or, as, by, in, to, of, &c.; and give the other words the degree of force which their relative importance in the sentence demands.—See page 36.
8. As a general rule, begin your sentences with a comparatively low tone of voice; towards the middle the voice should gradually rise, and from that it should gradually fall till the sentence is completed. I To this rule, however, there are several exceptions. In fact, it depends, in every case, on the sense and construction of the sentence.—See page 51.
9. At the commencement of a new paragraph or section you should lower your voice and make some change in your tone.
10. Above all, UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU READ, AND READ IT AS IF YOU UNDERSTOOD IT.
*“I tell you truly and sincerely that I shall judge of your parts by your speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have parts, you will never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a habit of speaking gracefully; for I aver that is in your power. Take care to open your teeth when you speak; to articulate every word distinctly; and beg of any friend you speak to, to remind and stop you, if ever you fall into a rapid and unintelligible mutter.”—Lord Chesterfield.
+ A brief description of the stops, with short rules for their insertion in every case, will be found in the writer's “English Grammar."
I The gradual fall of the voice towards the end of a sentence is called CADENCE; and as there is no part of a sentence of more importance than the close of it, great care should be taken to pronounce it distinctly and audibly.