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LOCUTION is vocal delivery. It may be said to comprise both a science, and an art. The science embraces the principles which constitute the basis of reading and speaking; the art, the practical application of these principles.
Elocution is naturally divided into two parts; namely, Vocal Gymnastics, and Gesture.
Vocal Gymnastics is the philosophy of the human voice, as well as the art of training the vocal organs in speech and song.
Gesture is the various postures, and motions, employed in vocal delivery.
ARTICULATION is the act of forming, with the organs
of speech, the elements of vocal language.
PITCH is the degree of the elevation of sounds.
FORCE is the degree of the loudness of sounds.
TIME is the measure of sounds in regard to thei duration.
RTICULATION is the act of forming, with the organs of speech, the elements of vocal language. These elements may be formed separately, as in the utterance of the letters of the alphabet, as well as conjunctively, as in the pronunciation of words.
By the utterance of the letters of the alphabet is not meant the pronunciation of the mere names of the letters, but the formation of the various sounds which the letters represent.
A good articulation is the perfect utterance of the elements of vocal language.
The first step towards becoming a good elocutionist, is a correct articulation. "A public speaker, possessed of only a moderate voice, if he articulates correctly, will be better understood, and heard with greater pleasure, than one who vociferates without judgment. The voice of the latter may indeed extend to a considerable distance, but the sound is dissipated in confusion. Of the former voice not the smallest vibration is wasted, every stroke is perceived at the utmost distance to which it reaches; and hence it has often the appearance of penetrating even farther than one which is loud, but badly articulated.
"In just articulation, the words are not to be hurried over, nor precipitated syllable over syllable; nor, as it were, melted together into a mass of confusion: they
should not be trailed, or drawled, nor permitted to slip out carelessly, so as to drop unfinished. They should be delivered from the lips as beautiful coins newly Issued from the mint, deeply and accurately impressed, neatly struck by the proper organs, distinct, in due succession, and of due weight."*
Without good articulation, it is impossible to be a correct reader, or speaker. Those who have been ac customed to pronounce their words in a careless or slovenly manner, will find it difficult, even with their best efforts, to utter them distinctly. The organs of articulation, for the want of proper exercise, become, as it were, paralyzed. The pupil, therefore, at the very commencement of his studies, should be conducted through a series of exercises, calculated to strengthen the muscles of articulation, and render them obedient to the will. The best method for effecting these purposes, is to exercise the voice on the elements of speech; first, on each element separately; † secondly, on various combinations.
Under the head, PRACTICAL ELOCUTION, will be found a variety of Exercises on the Elements of the English language, which are calculated to develope the voice, increase its compass, and give flexibility to the muscles of articulation. In that part of this work which consists of EXERCISES IN READING AND DECLAMATION, most of the sounds liable to be omitted or imperfectly articulated, are re presented by italic letters. Hence the reader, if he pay proper attention to the subject, will have no difficulty in correcting all ordinary defects in his utterance.
The value of vocal gymnastics cannot be duly appreciated by those who have not experienced, or witnessed, their beneficial results. But, I feel confident, the time is not far distant when these exercises will be considered, by all intelligent persons, an essential part of primary instruction.
AUSTIN'S CHIRONOMIA, p. 37, 38.
"When the elements are pronounced singly, they may re ceive a concentration of the organic effort, which gives them a clearness of sound and a definite outline, if I may so speak, at their extremes, that make a fine preparative for a distinct and forcible pronunciation in the compounds of speech."— Rush's Philosophy of the Human Voice.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
THE Elements of vocal language are the Sounds of which words are composed. These sounds are represented by graphic characters, called letters.
The number of letters in the English language, 18 twenty-six; but the number of elements is thirty-eight. Hence, as the number of elements exceeds the number of their literal signs, the same letter is employed, in different situations, to represent different sounds. Thus a represents four different sounds; e, two; i, two; o, three; u, three; z, two; and there are six sounds, each of which is represented by two letters-ou, ng, sh, wh, th in then, and th in thin. (See p. 19 and 20.) If we had a perfect alphabet, every elementary sound would be represented by its appropriate character.*
That men have accomplished much by furnishing the world with literature, art, and science, will be conceded by all. Nor will it be denied by any that there remains much to be done to carry all human institutions to their acme of excellence. Among the numerous proofs that our institutions have not attained their highest possible degree of perfection, is the fact that the world is now furnished with as much genius for contrivance, wisdom for invention, and judgment for application, as at any former period. He, therefore, who advocates the doctrine of present perfection in human productions, suggests, at least, the possibility that that amount of mind which is unnecessary to the successful application of the present principles, means, and inventions to their respective purposes, is rendered a redundancy by the want of appropriate subjects upon which to operate. The English language, though by no means far advanced in years, has already been the subject of much concurrent, and individual action; yet there is hardly one part of it which is not marred with defect, or deficiency. Even the English alpha. bet suffers from both these imperfections. To attain perfection in any thing, is, perhaps, beyond the power of man, especially in the medium of communicating his ideas. But although perfection in language can hardly be expected, yet, there is a degree of excellence which is not so difficult of attainment as to render all exertion una
The elements, as well as the letters by which they are represented, are usually divided into two classes, Vowels and Consonants. A more philosophical division, however, is into three classes, Vowels, Subvowels, and Aspirates.
The vowels are pure vocal sounds; their number is fifteen.
The subvowels have a vocality, but inferior to that of the vowels; their number is fourteen.
The aspirates are made with the whispering breath, and, consequently, have no vocality; they are nine in number.
Classification of the Elements.
vailing. There are thirty-eight elements in the English alphabet, and, to represent these elements by appropriate characters, we should have thirty-eight letters. There is, then, a deficiency in our alphabet of twelve letters - and he who shall supply this imperfection, will be one of the greatest benefactors of the human race. This work must be done before our orthography can be rendered consistent, our pronunciation natural and uniform, and our language easy of acquisition. Until this is accomplished, words must be spelled one way, and pronounced another-indeed, two languages must be learned, instead of one. Should the English language, as some confidently expect, become the language of the world, the advantages in which a complete alphabet would result, can be conceived by those only who have duly reflected upon the subject.